Sigh. I’ve been absent for several days, and it hasn’t been pretty!
About a month ago we planned a quick trip to Lake Powell with our friends the Christensen’s and the Sorensen’s. We were really looking forward to the trip because both families are so fun to be with and have kids the same ages as ours. Besides, it’s Lake Powell, and it was to be our last boating trip of the year.
We very rarely vacation with other families simply because there are so many of us and it is so hard to coordinate schedules. The kids had the day off Friday so the plan was to drive down Thursday afternoon, play all day Friday and Saturday and drive home Saturday night. We knew it would be a quick, crazy trip but our primary reason for going was to spend time with these two families.
As the trip approached I became more and more anxious. Event after event piled up for the weekend– soccer games, weddings, birthday parties, recitals etc…– until at final count we were missing 22 events in order to go to Lake Powell for two days.
I’m not a great vacationer. I have trouble leaving the responsibilities of life behind. I like work. I like getting things done. I constantly calculate how much work I can get done in a given amount of time. I do like to play but I like to play hard. If we are boating I want to be water skiing or teaching someone else to water ski. If I’m hiking I want to reach the mountain peak. If we are at the beach I like to be in the waves or building a sandcastle. I’m just not an armchair sort of girl.
And last week I really wanted to work, to get kids to their soccer games and off to their recitals and birthday parties. With Erik gone Sunday through Wednesday my stress level was high. I felt like no work would get done unless I did it myself. I felt like a full glass of water ready to spill over at the slightest tremor.
So when Thursday rolled along I was pretty anxious. The tube we pull behind the boat had popped(the main entertainment for the younger kids), Erik had left his cell phone at the DMV and the boat trailer needed a new tire. After getting the work done around the house and in my store I took the 3 littlest kids to the grocery store to stock up for the trip. The shopping went quickly and we stood in the checkout line with 15 minutes to spare before I had to pick up the dreaded Jr. High carpool. Unluckily, we stood in line behind a woman who had a coupon for every item, demanded a price check on several items and ever made the checker rebag half her order. I checked the time anxiously, debating if I should simply abandon all my groceries on the conveyor belt and race up to the Jr. High. I called Ben at home and he assured me he would give dad the message to pick up the carpool across the street from the school.
Yep, he didn’t give Erik the message.
When I pulled into the driveway 15 minutes later and found that ONCE AGAIN I had failed carpool duty and that we were supposed to be going on vacation in an hour, I hit freakout level: MOM. “MOM” is the ultimate level of anger in our house. Erik is more the disciplinarian so he asked Ben once, “What’s worse freakout level: MOM or freakout level: DAD?”
“Oh, MOM is far, far worse.”
I don’t get angry often. I’m not a yeller. Kids spill milk and orange juice all day long and I smile and say, “Let’s clean it up.” But when I lose it; I lose it. I yelled at Ben, I threw the keys, I slammed doors.
A few minutes later we held a family meeting and decided to abandon the trip. My relief was huge and the kids were perfectly happy just to get away from me. They raced off to soccer practices and tennis and playing with friends.
But Erik was furious with me. He was tired of my lists, my work and my exaggerated stress superseding time with our family. We all need more friends and this trip was a great opportunity to build friendships with two really nice families.
So the next morning while Erik was out running I dragged the kids out of bed and we packed the boat to go to Powell. Sure, we would be late but we would go. Erik was shocked when he came home but agreed to the craziness. We were on the road by 9.
We stopped in Scipio 3 hours later for gas. Gabriel got out to go to the bathroom and said, “Hey, I didn’t know we brought the boat with us! Where are we going?”
The closer we got to the lake the more excited I became. Lake Powell is so beautiful. The water is so warm, our friends are so much fun and we would really have plenty of time to play. We were in the lake by 3 and drove quite confidently to where our friends said they would be camping. And we drove and we drove and we searched every tiny cove in that section of lake. Every boat looked like theirs; we approached dozens of campsites only to see strangers staring at us. Finally, the sun dipped a little too close to the horizon and we were forced to find a campsite. Just us. Alone.
We set up the tent and I gathered everything for dinner. I had no lighter for the campstove. The kids gathered round to assess the problem. Slowly, one-by-one the days failures dawned on them. We’d spent most of the day driving, they’d missed everything at home, we couldn’t find our friends and now we were facing the prospect of cold cereal for dinner. Tears slid down my cheeks.
Then, in a fit of ingenuity Ben lit the stove with his potato cannon. Everyone cheered, I put the soup on the stove and the mood completely changed. See, those potato cannons really do come in handy.
This is the part where I wish I’d had my camera with me. It was left at home in the hurried packing. Our campsite was simply beautiful. We had our own little cove and beach and sandstone bluffs to climb on.
The kids ate, climbed the bluffs, shot off the potato cannon, laughed and played. Just as I finished cleaning the soup pot we turned around and witnessed a spectacular Lake Powell sunset.
We went to bed early– there was nothing else to do– and finally went to sleep after lots of yelling and joking. Kids love sleeping in a tent. The drive was probably worth it just for that.
Saturday dawned windy and cloudy. Hans and I pulled Erik out of the tent for early morning water skiing but the water was so choppy it was like skiing on the ocean. So we played at the campsite. The kids made up all sorts of games, Mary and Gabe gathered up a fabulous shell collection, Hans dug in the sand and I actually sat in the armchair and simply watched.
Xander came to me for first aid on a bleeding toe and said, “Ben and Stefan are older; but they are so much fun to play with!”
By early afternoon the wind really picked up and we feared being able to get the boat out of the water. We packed up and left. And getting the boat on the trailer was quite a task– I was terrified trying to guide it onto the trailer with winds of 40 mph.
Less than 24 hours after arriving we were on the road home. We hit snow 2 hours into our journey. Snow.
We finally arrived home, unpacked and sighed with relief. In a flash Ben was showered and saying, “Can I call my friends?”
“Ah, just stay home tonight.” Erik teased him. “We love your company.”
“Love you too, Dad.” Ben replied. “But I’ve had enough for one weekend– I’m at freakout level: MOM.”