Vacation was upon us before I knew it. The bags were packed, the car was filled to the brim and I was at the wheel. We needed two cars based on the fact that we brought not only four teenage girls, but maybe our whole house. Food, clothing, fishing poles, blankets, linens, pillows, you name it, it was in the car. We started out on the very long drive to what I was hoping would be an oasis. We would lose ourselves in the sun and sand with friends and family with smiles and laughter. That is not exactly how it went. There was more whining and complaining then I thought humanly possible. Me included. The day was hot and the kids were sleeping and it was quiet. That drive in that car, filled with our lives for a fun and relaxing time got me thinking. I’m not sure I can really do this anymore. I was tired. I was so very tired. My soul was tired, my bones were tired, my mind, body and spirit were all tired. I was finding it hard to put on a smile. Faking it just isn’t my thing. I don’t do it well. I do a lot of things really well, that was not one of them. I clinged to the hope that we would be able to reinvent ourselves while on vacation. I dreamt of walks on the beach and toes in the sand and cocktail in hand. I played out scenarios where the kids giggled and made up inside jokes and where life became just a little easier. That was a long drive and lots of thinking went on. There is nothing like the hum of a car with music playing and an open road to get your brain working. It was nostalgic for a time when life wasn’t so hard. When parenting wasn’t a combat sport. When loving someone wasn’t so difficult. When trusting your instincts were an every day event and the twists and turns of life were more about what to make for dinner then how I would break up the next argument. I was concerned about money, I was concerned about not working. I felt as if I was losing myself, losing my identity and it began to feel crippling. I felt my insides begin to turn as we approached the beach exit. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I was ignoring it as I had done so many times before. I would push through it and tell it to leave me alone. I was here and now I would make the best of it. I would try to relax, I would read my book and let the rays of the sun shine on me and give me strength. I would let things slide and not get worked up about the small stuff. I would be me. I would try desperately to be me. Whoever that was. I didn’t recognize me anymore. I looked in the rearview mirror and the woman looking back at me and she looked like a stranger. I would not put all my hopes on this vacation, but I would put my trust in it that it would be just as Jolly Guy said it would be “A time for us all to get away and enjoy each other.” That’s what we all wanted anyway right? To no longer function in the chaos, but to surpass it. To enjoy each other’s similarities and differences and operate as a family. Apparently Jolly Guy and I had very different ideas on how a family relaxes together. Very very different ideas.