Lisa's Lines

My crew of four headed north to a family cabin over the weekend.

Fun, right? Spending time with family at a beautiful lake in the summertime is always good. I enjoy being there, but getting there is a different issue.

First, comes the packing.

I hate packing. Hate. It.

My stomach lurches and my blood pressure rises just thinking about it.

I haven’t always been this way. I lived out of a backpack for six months while I lived abroad during college and never even paused to consider the time and effort packing requires.

When I got married, there was the usual question of who packed the toothpaste? But, it was still easy.

Two kids later…. It is not easy. Especially when your family likes to camp—in a tent—and your husband is a packing fanatic. Every. Single. Thing. Has. To. Be. Perfectly. Placed. In. The. Vehicle. Or. Trailer.

Then, of course he proudly steps back and admires his packing mastery.

If looks could kill, my family would never go on vacation. My husband would be flat out in the driveway next to the perfectly packed trailer with his oh-so-smug look of “gosh, that was a big job” look on his face.

Seriously? Putting the stuff IN the vehicle / trailer is the big job? Oh, hell, no.

The planning, the packing, the washing, the strategic negotiations with little ones regarding how many stuffed animals and favorite toys can make the trip, the shopping, the finding, the hauling, the piling, and the communicating with other family/friend travelers is the true WORK of packing. And, in my family, that has all fallen to me—the mom.

I know, I should feel happy and blessed to be able to give this gift of packing to my family… I should be. But, I’m not. I truly hate it.

It’s a time consuming, thankless job.

And you know that once the family arrives at the destination, something will be missing from the strategically packed heap of stuff. And, the whine of “Moooooom…. Why didn’t you bring ____?!” will rise and so will my blood pressure.

I get it. I’m mom. Someone has to do the planning, organizing, washing, and packing. I am capable, and I will do it. But, I don’t have to like it.

Thankfully, my girls (ages 9 and 6) now recognize that mom gets cranky the day before we leave for an adventure and know they need to help. They are getting good at helping me make lists, packing their own bags, and helping me gather all the other items necessary for our trips.

I’ve talked with my husband about my packing stress and he offers to help, but he doesn’t get it. He just throws stuff in bags and the cooler and boxes—no thought to if we’ll have ketchup for our hotdogs or a brush and hair binders for our girls’ long locks.

It’s a Mars vs. Venus drama—one that has played out for years and years.

One evening, before a recent camping trip, I was in the kitchen dicing onions and other items for our up-coming campfire meals, when John sauntered in and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was preparing our family’s taco-in-a-bag meal for our camping trip and he kind of laughed and walked to the fridge to grab a beer.

“What? Do you think I shouldn’t be doing this?” I questioned.

With a shrug, he looked at me with big eyes and a sly grin, knowing the conversation would not end well.

“Well, tell me,” I pushed. “Your family camped all the time when you were little. What am I doing wrong? Why is this so much work? Why is it so hard for me?”

He set his beer down, and looked at me sweetly and said: “We just threw stuff in. There was no planning.”

I laughed so hard that I had to sit down on the kitchen floor to steady myself. His mother is one of the most organized people I know, and she always serves top-notch meals—in the kitchen or by a campfire.

After I stopped crying tears of hilarity, I called my mother-in-law and told her about her son’s comment. We laughed and laughed.

Obviously, my mother-in-law managed to make planning and packing for her family’s camping trips look easy (so easy that her son didn’t know it happened). I’m not that talented.

The good news is, my husband is an efficient un-packer. The moment after we pull into the driveway and park, he starts unloading everything – and starts the laundry.

So, in reality, we do make a good team.

But, let's be honest, the actual work is the pre-trip planning and essentials packing. (Just kidding... Kind of.)

Cheers to family camping trips, fun, and making memories!

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