It was a hot, sweaty morning in Houston, Texas, during the summer of ’99, and my sister and I were preparing ourselves for a guest. See, this guest never lived with us in our home, but she always showed up around vacation time – usually the morning of or the night before our departure.
Her name? Vacation Mom. She would appear clutching a clipboard that contained a multi-page packing list, a nylon fanny pack saddled around her waist filled with bottles of Dramamine, a visor pushed up on her forehead and glasses roped around her neck with one of those floating straps.
I have many fond memories of her. Like that one time she threatened to throw our Nintendo 64 out of the car window (we had it connected to what we thought was the coolest TV ever: a 15-inch block that took up half of our Ford Excursion) if my sister and I kept fighting over who got to play Peach in Mario Kart. And that other time when she told us it was either eat ham sandwiches and potato chips or starve as we passed the fifth McDonald’s on our way to Disney World.
Vacation Mom made sure we all arrived on time to shows, applied sunscreen, wore sensible shoes, ate real food, didn’t get lost, and had fun, darn it, because we paid all this money to go to the Happiest Place on Earth, so we had better put a smile on our faces or we would all turn around and go home.
I know Vacation Mom was a necessary substitution on our family trips. I also know that in time I, too, will become my own version of Vacation Mom (and she will probably be similar to Vacation Wife, because Vacation Husband can’t seem get to airports on time) to make sure family vacations run smoothly and everyone has the appropriate amount of fun.
Carrie Taylor is a native Texan, freelance writer and mother of one precious baby boy.