Friday, October 27, 2006

Relaxing? Vacation

by Meryl Neiman

I'm posting from San Diego. My children are quiet, asleep in their beds. My husband is also asleep (although decidedly not quiet -- he snores!). For the first time in days, I have a moment to myself.

I'm on vacation. Or am I?

I'm in San Diego -- land of sun, water, and postcard perfect vistas. Since we arrived late day Monday, my kids and I have done it all.

We went to Sea World and marvelled at Shamu's athletic process. We fed fish to dolphins and patted their smooth heads (they feel like hot dogs, one child announced).

The next day it was on to the San Diego zoo. The polar bear amused us as he played with a traffic cone. The pandas endeared us (until momma panda had a non photographic moment -- a biological event that happens about 25 times a day now that pandas are vegetarians). One of the giraffes amazed us as she wrapped her snakelike tongue around a leaf.

This morning we took the trolley to Old Town. We visited San Diego's first public school and my children saw their very first dunce cap. They got to dip their own candles and learned about chamber pots! After returning to the hotel, we caught the water taxi to Coronado where we lunched at the beautiful Hotel Del Coronado and frolicked on the expansive beach. And don't forget the daily late afternoon swim in the resort's pool.

My husband's here for a conference. It's the American Academy of Child Psychiatrists. He's busy most of the time with meetings and presentations. So I've been doing a lot of single parenting. Trying not to raise my voice too loud when my son pushes extra buttons on the elevator. After all, I'm single parenting in front of a hotel full of child psychiatrists! They might not find my threats of lost dessert up to par with the latest child development research.

In the midst of this single parenting, I'm also juggling a variety of social expectations. My father in law is also a child psychiatrist and so he and my mother in law are here for the conference as well. Although my in-laws live in Pittsburgh they live in the South Hills, and rarely venture into the city. They want some quality time with their grandchildren. Friends of ours who recently moved to Ohio are here for the conference. Their daughter and my son grew up together and all four kids are very close. Clearly, we want time with them. And my sister who lives in San Francisco happens to be in San Diego for her law firm's annual partner retreat. She's single, without kids, and for the day she had free she wanted the undivided attention of her niece and nephew.

And, of course, none of these people want the kids without me. They don't want to parent. They don't want to remind my seven year old that utensils were created for a purpose. They don't want to be the one to tell my kids that it is time to leave the pool. Or that sightseeing is not about accumulating souvernirs, but enjoying the experience. They certainly don't want to be the one nagging my son about the pile of school work that he hasn't touched.

The parent job is left to moi. And so I'm tired. I'm in beautiful San Diego and I'm tired.

But yet, I got to see my children touch a dolphin for the very first time. I got to watch my son try out his spanish on Dr. Boris and my five year old daughter crack her first crab and proudly wear her bib as a superhero cape. And so it's a good kind of tired.

I can get some rest when I'm back in cold and dreary Pittsburgh, my kids have returned to school, and my butt is back in my chair where it belongs.

7 comments:

Joyce said...

Nice post, Meryl. The trip sounds great, despite everyone else!

Being a mom is worth every minute of rest that you lose. And just think, if you were paid for what you do, you'd be making about 130,000 a year!

Cathy said...

Pittsburgh is especially cold, dreary, and sunless today, so San Diego sounds lovely. But the single parenting part reminds me of gritted teeth. Can't you run away for the afternoon? Maybe escape through a bathroom window? What would your protagonist do?

Hope your stay is enjoyable in spite of the thorns.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oh, I've been there, Meryl... many, many times. Probably many more to come.

Focus on the fact that you learned that dolphins feel like hot dogs. And that you get to be there to experience all this with them -- I don't know about you, but when I hear of this sort of stuff that I've missed out on, I'm sad!

Working Stiffs said...

Thanks everyone. Right now my kids are lobbying for cookies for breakfast. But the view of the bay out my window if beautiful and the sun is shining bright.

Susan, you are so right. I feel bad that their father missed all of these things. The funny thing is that it doesn't seem to affect him. He's here on business and he is able to focus on that. If I were him, I would enjoy the adult time but it would kill me to miss all those important moments with the kids.

Maybe that's the difference between moms and dads.

Any dads want to weigh in?

Working Stiffs said...

Thanks everyone. Right now my kids are lobbying for cookies for breakfast. But the view of the bay out my window if beautiful and the sun is shining bright.

Susan, you are so right. I feel bad that their father missed all of these things. The funny thing is that it doesn't seem to affect him. He's here on business and he is able to focus on that. If I were him, I would enjoy the adult time but it would kill me to miss all those important moments with the kids.

Maybe that's the difference between moms and dads.

Any dads want to weigh in?

merylneiman said...

Oops. Sorry. That was me as working stiffs.

Rebecca Drake said...

Can't comment for their dad, but Joe seems to enjoy his one-on-one time with the kids, too.
Today, however, he happily dashed off to work while I became playdate organizer, chef and laundress for two usually delightful and sometimes annoying kids who are off school. Something called a "clerical day."
And it's gray, here, and fairly cold and I'd rather be in writing in warm and sunny San Diego!
I'm with you on the exhaustion, Meryl, but you're right that it's the best of times, too!