My Stupid / Stupendous Stay-cation

4 Apr

Staying home for vacation is one of those win / lose situations. At the end of it, I felt like I had been some exaggerated caricature of a manic depressive person. One second I was overjoyed, skipping around, singing about how happy I am and knowing it, with a smile plastered on, and it wasn’t even that semi-hysterical, will-this-get-the-baby-to-calm-the-hell-down smile and singing that I often do. The next second I was stretched out in bed, still in my pajamas at noon, refusing to concern myself about the baby scavenging those Cheerios he threw on the floor earlier, telling the 3 year old that sure, she could watch a 700th video in one day. I was ecstatic, energetic, blues-out, relaxed, stressed, busy, lazy, content, overwhelmed- sometimes all in the same day. It was my first-ever stay-home vacation.


Here’s a little breakdown of my ups and downs in this premier stay-vacation.


Good News: I get a paid vacation five whole weeks a year! Plus other federal holidays give me frequent three-day weekends. FIVE WEEKS! I’d never had any paid vacation before this year. This is astounding! Revolutionary! I’m the luckiest person alive!


Bad News: My vacation time is precisely the same time as the vacation time for every single other person in the entire country of Mexico.


This is part of the reason we’re on stay-cation in the first place. I had planned an exciting trip to Oaxaca City, to see a friend, go to museums, relax, and get the kids’ Mexican passports renewed. Y’all know how I love to combine work and pleasure like that. But of course, since it was holy week, nobody in any bureaucracy works either, so I couldn’t get an appointment for their passports. I fared better than a friend of mine, though, who had an appointment to get her son’s U.S. passport renewed and the consulate cancelled on the day of her appointment– after 7 hours of travel. Oh, Semana Santa, how bitter-sweet.


Bad News: The ubiquitous retén (police roadblock)

We also had plans to take a day trip or two to nearby places, to have adventures we never seem to have time for on the weekend. But with the influx of both national and international tourists, police are busy keeping people safe and getting bonus bribes by putting up road blocks all over the place. We are not up to date on our car’s registration, and Conan’s license is expired. Now, in the U.S. I never would have let this happen. But here it’s very common to not have your registration paid, because it’s too expensive and it’s totally meaningless. Just like licenses are meaningless. There’s not even a driving test for licenses, as witnessed by the driving that goes on around here! The only requirement is to have money and an electric bill as proof of residence. The electric bill doesn’t even have to be your own! The lady at the license office told me could bring a friend’s when I told her we didn’t have electricity. But I digress. We didn’t have money for fines or bribes, so we stayed close to home instead.


Bad News: Car being held together by a coat hanger

We were going to at least go to Juquila for a couple days, but our car did not get fixed in time. There’s some part that’s currently rigged together with some spare wire or something, and Conan didn’t want to risk it falling apart on a road trip to the mountains. We tried to get it fixed, but it was too late in the week- by Thursday we couldn’t get the right part sent down from Oaxaca City because everyone was already on vacation.


Good News: No trips means more relaxing! Not spending time in a vehicle with a baby-turned-toddler who doesn’t understand the purpose of sitting down. Not having to spend an entire day packing a bag, planning all the necessities for three people. (Conan packs his own stuff: he puts a pair of underwear in my bag and then wonders aloud why I’m not finished packing yet.)


“This will be awesome!” I told Conan. “I’m going to spend time with you guys and catch up on housework!” I envisioned us sitting down together playing games in a fabulously organized and relatively clean house.


Bad News: Getting caught up on housework is a cruel impossibility if you are currently living in said house.

I now suspect that people really go on vacation just so they can clean the house, go somewhere else, and have that fleeting joy of coming home to a totally clean house- because no one has been there in a week. (Gosh, I think I used to think differently about travel, once upon a time. Perhaps I will again someday?)


I called my mom about day 5 of my vacation. “I need a pep talk,” I whined into the phone. “I’ve been home for 5 days and I still don’t have the clean clothes put away. I haven’t seen an empty sink the whole time! How is it possible that I can be off work and my house be the same as if I were working?”


“Well,” started my wise and witty mama, “Are there still people in your household wearing clothes while on vacation?” She asked. “Are people eating and dirtying up dishes? Is somebody cooking?” Yes, yes, yes. But…. “And is half of your household unable to do their own laundry and wash their own dishes?” Oh. Right. Yeah. That.


It’s easy to blame it on the small creatures, and I’m sure the housework situation will improve once we can enslave them in household tasks as well. But regardless, this stuff really is a bottomless pit of essentially unfulfilling activities.


Good News: I invented a new song to keep myself from freaking out about housework.

You guys remember “The Song That Never Ends”? My adaptation goes: “This is the job that never ends. Yes it goes on and on, my friends. Some people started doing it not knowing what it was. But they’ll continue doing it forever just because this is the job that doesn’t end!”  You can do it with any household job. “These are the dishes that never end! Yes they get dirty and dirtier my friend! Some people started washing them not know how it was, and they’ll continue washing them forever just because these are the dishes that never end!” Pretty great, right? Don’t worry, I have no copy write issues; you guys go ahead and sing it in your own houses. You know you want to.








Good News: We really did make time to do some things that we don’t normally have time for.

We went to the library together. We ate most of our meals together. I tried to say yes every time Lucia asked me to read her a book, instead of telling her we could read it that night at bedtime. I sat down and played with Khalil, who’s suddenly not a baby anymore. (Geez, did I just now have time to notice?) Lucia was thrilled to wake up from her nap to find me there and not at work. I soaked up every minute of watching these two sweet siblings interact, giggling hysterically, chasing each other around the house, stealing each other’s toys.

Lucia and I had an outing, just the two of us. I carried her part of the way to the bus stop (I never get to carry her anymore, thanks to her little brother). We rode the bus, which pleases her half to death for whatever reason. We sang “The Wheels on the Bus” song while on the bus. We went to the playground and I let her play for more than 15 minutes. We went to “the big store,” the only department store in town, where she loves to check out and play with the toys, and she shocked the hell out of me by not asking to buy a single thing. (Thanks to a conversation with her Papi, apparently. Plus it helps that they don’t have a space ship, the only toy her heart desperately desires currently.)

I took time for myself, too. I did a little personal writing not just for my blog. I finished a book in the middle of the day. I watched a movie with Conan. We had a date night. Lots of wondrous things.


Stinker #1 and #2, playing beautifully together. It’s not all the time so it’s nice to have a chance to enjoy it while it’s happening!

Good News: No alarm clock!

Okay, that Monday I still got up at 5, because I forgot to turn off my alarm. But most of the other days I slept till like SEVEN AM! I even lowered my coffee consumption because I wasn’t living on a sleep deficit!


Bad News: Vacation means getting out of my healthy routine.

I got lots more sleep. But not getting up till the baby gets up meant I was on-the-job immediately, struggling to drink my coffee before changing the first poopy diaper. There’s no time to exercise when you have to be constantly vigilant, getting food in little bellies, preventing consumption of toilet paper, etc.


I also ate more than normal, because I was home more and had time to prepare food and snacks. Which leads us to….


Good News: Being home means time to cook slightly more than normal.

We made popsicles. I made elaborate casseroles. I made enough to freeze a couple things, although it wasn’t as much as I’d hoped, because goodness, four people eat a lot of food. Plus I remembered what it was like when I was a stay-at-home mom in Juquila. It’s all too easy to spend all your waking hours just keeping people fed and clothed and clean. So I didn’t even cook all of our meals because it was too overwhelming. But we did have french toast, and oatmeal (haha, yes this is a beloved food for Lucia), and other exciting meals that are only for weekends.


Bad News: Everyone being off in the same week means that going to the beach is impossible because 2 out of 3 residents of Mexico City are also on vacation on our beaches on the same day. Going out to eat involves a wait. A wait! Here in tiny little Puerto, population 45,000.


Good News: We live here, so we know about places to eat that tourists don’t know about. One of our best meals was from a tiny three-table restaurant that ended up being cheap and delicious, with no wait.



Conclusion: Staycation is a lot like regular life if you’re a stay-at-home parent. (If you’re not a parent of small children, I no longer have any idea what life is like for you. My memories of such things have been wiped clean during all the butt-wiping.) If you’re not a stay-at-home parent, count your blessings that you have a job to escape back to so you can appreciate your family and your messy house again.


If you are a stay-at-home parent, count your blessings that you’re your own boss, and you get to spend all this time with your awesome family. It won’t last forever. From my experience / memory, it’s great as long as you can keep in mind that there is a whole universe outside your door, and that you must get out into it! Abandon the dishes! Let them eat cheese and crackers today! Finish that chapter of your book! My stay-catation was  still just like when I’m working, in terms of trying to balance it all- some basic necessity things, some pleasure things for the kids, a little time for me. It’s a balancing act whether you have an outside job or not. It’s full of ups and downs no matter what.


Conclusion, take two: Count your blessings, period. You only get this day, once, on vacation or not. Might as well attempt to enjoy it for the good, the bad, and the dishes, too. When you’re too bummed by last week’s laundry to enjoy it, call me up and I’ll give us both a pep talk. Or we can cry into the dishes together.

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