The hardest part about going on vacation is getting going. The energy and effort required to plan and pack can leave you weary and in need of a vacation - especially if you fulfill the role of predominant packer for your pack.
At my house, vacation preparation involves approximately 2,537 unique tasks. My husband is responsible for a number of them - filling the vehicle's gas tank, mapping our course on the atlas, carrying the cooler up from the basement and bringing the luggage out to the car. For those who are counting, that makes four. Those good at math realize that leaves me with the other 2,533.
Ignore my bitterness. It's unfounded. Most families divide duties in a way that works for them. My husband does many things to make sure our house runs smoothly. He cooks. He vacuums. He empties. He restocks. He loads and unloads numerous appliances. He flushes things that need flushing. He even makes me coffee each morning.
When it comes to packing, however, I am queen rat. Thing is, occasionally I take on more than I should and then harbor secret stress over my workload - like every time we plan a trip. Our latest foray into vacationland proved no different. We'd decided to leave the kids for a few days and venture out on our own for a drive across the country. My husband was eager to get an early start. We talked about being on the road by 10:00 a.m.
Trouble is, at 8:00 that morning I still had 218 items on my to-do list. This was compounded when I drove our son to school and discovered he hadn't yet lined up a ride home in the afternoon; my list grew to 219.
I returned from dropping him off and mailing bills (bringing me down to 217) to find my husband sitting on the couch. He looked up expectantly.
"Almost ready?" he asked.
"Just a few things to do," I lied.
I hustled over to the computer to make a dog-feeding schedule for the kids to use during our trip. You might be asking yourself what kind of person makes a dog-feeding schedule. A gal with 217 items on her to-do list, that's who.
As the schedule printed, I looked over at my husband. He was no longer sitting on the couch. He was lying on the couch. His eyes were closed.
I silently considered violent acts, but since violence would likely put an end to our vacation plans, I decided to yell him awake instead.
"This is no time for a nap! We have over 200 things to do. The cooler needs ice. I am stressed beyond belief at the thought of leaving the kids. I still have to pack the toiletries. Have you counted your underwear? Our son needs a ride home from school. What if the dog starves to death while we are gone?"
He sat up with a start and was incredulous. He said he understood my increased stress. He knew I had lots to do. He was trying to be helpful by giving me space.
Space. How about giving me a hand?
My husband was happy to help. He hadn't realized we had so much on our list. He left to buy ice for the cooler. His task tally - now at five - was growing by the minute.
Meanwhile, I engaged in packing pandemonium, checking 97 items off my list in just as many seconds. Well, not really, but you get the gist.
He returned and began putting ice in the cooler - a direct violation of preferred packing protocol. Everyone (except my husband, apparently) knows you put in the pop before the ice. It involves some sort of scientific theory, or something. I think.
I got the toiletries together and cleaned a couple toilets. We each packed enough socks and underwear to align with the length of our trip. I optimistically threw in sunscreen. After much consideration, I packed four pairs of shoes. As an afterthought, my husband tossed in one. We found all the various chargers needed to keep us plugged in during our journey. He stocked the cats up on their favorite nip and I put the dog's feeding schedule on the kitchen table. We left the kids a note with a bunch of X's and O's on the bottom.
We got on the road at 9:20, and as my husband backed the car down the driveway, he lamented, "Too bad we didn't get an earlier start."
I silently considered various acts of violence, but honestly was too exhausted to carry through with any of them. Besides, this wasn't the time for anything like that. We were on vacation.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.