And that's how I learned we are all terrible people.

We did it. We made it. We are home.

The thing with travel is that the trip that starts with leaving your own front door is fabulous. It is headed toward relaxation and toward people you really want to see and toward… who cares. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter. Because it is vacation. It is the Not Normal. And the Not Normal is good.

On our way toward vacation, we loaded the kids into the car at 8:30pm and headed off into the dying sunlight. Like we were some kind of living, breathing Kerouac novel. Or… Willie Nelson song. Either way. It is exciting and it is fabulous.
It's all the same, really. I'm pretty much exactly Kerouac.
We drove through the night, taking turns with almost no sleep, driving on excitement alone, because vacation lives on the other end of that car trip gal-dang it. We are on an adventure. Through the mountains. Across the plains. Through cities, through wilderness, dodging baby jackrabbits all the way. Like Lewis in Clarke in reverse, we trudged our way East*, without even functional GPS to guide us. We gas station-coffeed our way, onward and upward, until VACATION.

But then, inevitably, and always far too soon, comes the requisite END of vacation. Can you even imagine? It is cruel. It is THE WORST. Run the laundry. Pack the clothes. Check under all the couches for toys left behind. Real life awaits us, my friends. And real life stands armed with an overflowing cat box and a TO DO list longer than your arm waiting to greet you.

So yeah, pardon me if I don’t sound cheery or well-rested. I have barely fracking survived the last two days. You are super welcome I showed up at all.

Now, I think I have pretty decently well behaved kids.** I mean, I’m not crazy, and they aren’t any kind of saints, but generally speaking, they’re …. good. They’re pretty nice, I think. They follow most directions. They don’t bite other children or run maniacally into traffic. They very seldom set fire to anything at all. I’m not saying it’s a high bar, but all things considered, I am generally pleased with the persons my tiny humans are turning out to be.

Then we drove home from vacation.

I don’t think that way anymore.

A lot of stuff happened, and I can now write you a starter list of the people who do NOT share my positive opinion of my children:
  1. The waitress at Olive Garden in Reno who was there to witness my 3-year-old dumping his full cup of Sprite all over the floor. And then after I cleaned it up, dumping it imediately all over the table.
  2. The kind family who sat behind us when the same 3-year-old couldn’t manage to “chair” properly, threw himself off his seat and whacked his head onto one of theirs.***
  3. Whoever stayed in Legacy Vacation Club room 307 last night, and called TWICE (at 9pm and again at 7:30am) to complain about the “heard of unsupervised children interrupting their sleep.”****
  4. The front desk lady at LVC. Who said the kids were cute, until I apologized, and informed her that these were the unwashed miscreants who she’d been fielding angry phone calls about since we’d arrived. “ooooh,” she says. “oooooooooh yeah. Those people were mad. It’s a good thing you’re checking out today.”
  5. Everyone at the Denny’s in south Stockton. Sorry, everyone at the Denny’s in south Stockton.
As we drove away from our last stop before home (Sorry again, Stockton) I took a look at my kids. They were obviously exhausted. Exhausted, but also very stir crazy. They were one hundred thousand percent done with being in a car and then getting out for a minute and being told not to bug whoever the heck, and then getting back in the car. They couldn’t take it any more. Heck, I couldn’t take it anymore. My kids are NOT good, I told myself.  They are NOT good people, I was WRONG and I am NOT succeeding as a parent.
We do not ever feel judged at the Winnemucca McDonalds. It is IMPOSSIBLE to feel judged at the Winnemucca Mcdonalds.
But as they hopped back toward the car and gleefully called out for another movie, it occurred to me: maybe it’s just the nature of childhood to be an annoyance. Children do not walk. They run, and they skip, and they jump off of the furniture. I could threaten and shake my finger and spank their booties, but what I couldn’t do was teach them to walk quietly. I could feel like I was losing my noodle, take away crayons and scold them in very angry whispers, but I couldn’t manage to get them to sit on their behinds through a meal. They were done. They had lost it. And fun story? So had I.

But it made me think: maybe we shouldn’t always be judged for our worst moments in the world. And maybe my kids aren’t the worst kids in the world. And maybe, maybe I’m not even a spectacularly terrible mother. We’re just having a day.

Also? People should know about us, us people with our terrible days and our just-about-to-curl-up-and-cry states of being. So I made us a badge. It is a weird colored blob because today, I was a weird colored blob. Please feel free to take it and use as necessary. Wear it when you need it, just be sure to take it off some times too, please.

Well, it’s late, and the kids are whining and yelling and YOU'RE MEAN, YOU’RE MEAN! While they get out of the bath. Because turns out, vacation is done now. Uh oh. Husband has joined in on the yelling. Sounds like someone needs his badge!

Adios friends, welcome back to real life!

*AKA: Reverse West
***I appreciate you, family at Olive Garden in Reno.

****I passed on a humbled apology to you via the front desk. I hope you are less unhappy now. But also, I really need to know: What kind of dastardly maniac is trying to sleep at both 9pm and 7:30am?  Because I really don’t understand your life. Also? Because I may just be outrageously jealous of your life.

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