Jim Gaffigan is no stranger to keeping it real when it comes to parenting. And that’s no big surprise — the man has five kids, and a wicked sense of humor. He’s easily one of the most relatable celeb dads around, known for doling out sage parenting advice and other witticisms like, “Failing and laughing at your own shortcomings are the hallmark of a sane parent.”
The man just gets it — and I was reminded of that fact yet again this week when he posted a picture of his adorable brood in a picturesque tropical location, along with the caption: “Going on vacation with my children remains the most exhausting, expensive thing I’ve ever been grateful to do.”
Amen to that! Any parent that has traveled with children (especially young children) quickly learns the difference between a trip and a “vacation.” And that difference is stark.
Returning home from a trip with kids means that you need a vacation from your vacation. But instead, you have a monstrous pile of laundry to sort through, overly-tired and grumpy children to deal with, and a mountain of make-up homework from your child’s teacher that may bring you and your kid to tears.
Fortunately, you also have memories. Memories you hope that your kids will look back on fondly after all the money you spent that could have gone towards their college.
I was fortunate enough to accompany my mom on a trip to Hawaii last year, sans kids. It was a first for both of us and although I enjoyed it immensely, I also felt guilty and kept wishing I could share the experiences I was having with my husband and sons.
As we were leaving Maui, I noticed a family at the airport; a young couple with two young children. They looked the same way I’m sure I would have in their situation; tired and stressed out. When it was time to board the plane, I was pleased to see that we were going to sit in front of them. I mentioned to the mother as I went to take my seat how adorable her baby was. In return, she told me she wasn’t sure how this flight was going to go, and apologized in advance.
But how sad is it that we always feel inclined to do that as parents? We apologize for our babies when they act like babies, and kids for being kids, practically everywhere we go. I was sure to tell her no apologizes were necessary and that I would be more than happy to assist her in any way I could. (After all, I’ve been in her shoes more than once myself.)
We later had a conversation where they told me that they had traveled to Hawaii as a couple before, but that this was their first time bringing kids along. They had always talked about how fun it would be to have their little ones with them the next time they went, they said, but had since learned that it maybe hadn’t been worth all of the trouble and expense.
“Maybe when they are older and will actually remember and appreciate it,” they told me.
Honestly, I feel the same way. We haven’t taken our young children on many large trips so far, but now that they’re getting a little older, I want to spend more money on experiences and less money on things. Yes, it’s exhausting; but just like Jim Gaffigan, I too will be grateful to do it.
I know that my kids won’t remember all of the gifts they received as birthday or Christmas presents, but I sure hope they’ll remember the time that we spent together. And hopefully, I can choose to forget the chores that will await me upon my return.