Most of us Real Women like to think we can be spontaneous. To us, spontaneity means fun, carefree, happy, no stress. We don’t have to weigh ourselves down with pesky and arduous planning and processing, we can just get up and go and do. I know there are a few of you out there who really can do this, and I commend you. As for me, I tend to believe I have not one spontaneous bone in my body. I am a planner through and through, and my hunch is I’ve got a lot of R.W. soul mates.
My family and I are about to depart for a vacation. A real, honest to goodness, get away from it all, seven days of virtually no responsibilities and relaxation, vacation. This is something we have not done in a very long time, and I’d be embarrassed to admit how long we’ve been planning it. Even more glorious is the fact that a family member is arriving to house-sit and dog-sit for us, so we will have the amazing peace of mind that all will be fine at home while we are gone. All that is left is to grab our swimsuits and flip-flops and head out the door, right? Not so fast.
At times, the preparations to depart have felt almost overwhelming, and my mind is swirling with “I have to do all these things before we leave”. In reality, very few of the items on my “getting ready to relax” list truly, absolutely need to be done. However, I know me, and if I can take care of everything, set everything in order, I will enjoy myself that much more.
Some of the preparations, in hindsight, are really kind of unnecessary, and possibly border on the ridiculous. But I’m fairly certain most of us R.W.’s go through similar procedures:
- Personal grooming. My husband, my son, and I have all recently had haircuts, I did my color touch-up this morning (also known as the 60-90 Day Grey Hiding Process), and tonight I will get my nails done. We even plan to bathe the dog, who is staying home. I can understand this sort of primping when travelling to visit family or friends. After all, we don’t want them to see us in our worn out and scraggly forms, we want to look good. But this vacation is our first-ever cruise. Which means we will be spending time with thousands of complete strangers, whom we will likely never see again. So why do we care? If anything, this is probably the perfect opportunity to look as slovenly as we want.
- Shopping. I have participated in a flurry of pre-trip retail excursions to buy things I usually don’t purchase. Travel-size toiletries, extra swim trunks for my son who outgrew the ones he had last year, new pairs of flip-flops, and just yesterday I remembered I want to stop and get some Dramamine. Just in case. Could we buy all these items during the trip? Certainly. But then I won’t feel prepared.
- Home Cleaning. For as long as I can remember, before going on any trip away from home, no matter the length or distance, I have felt the need to clean. I simply don’t want to come home to a dirty house. Besides, if God forbid someone broke in, or an Emergency Crew had to enter, I can’t have them seeing dirty dishes in the sink. This time, since we have a house-sitter coming, I especially want it to be clean. Would she really care if it wasn’t? Probably not. But I want her to be comfortable. Not horrified.
- Lists. Oh, my, the lists. I’ve had lists at work of projects to wrap up before departure, lists of errands to be accomplished, and lists of what needs to be done each evening leading up to the big day. I even have separate lists for my husband and son. There is pure satisfaction in crossing things off. I am assuming my boys will not allow me to bring pen and paper on the trip.
- Food. One would think that when preparing to be away, there is no need to plan for, or purchase, food. However, tomorrow is my son’s birthday. Gotta have fun food and cake. We have family members coming through town the day before we leave. Can’t let them go hungry. And there must be SOMETHING edible in the house so our houseguest doesn’t have to go grocery shopping right away – although I’m sure she plans to do just that. Then, what about road trip food? We will be on a bus for a couple of hours to get to the departure dock. I have a teen son. Snacks need to come with us, lest he perish – or, start chewing on my arm.
- Packing. Oh yes, and then there’s this. When it all boils down, the actual packing seems to be the easiest thing. Especially for a summer vacation. Yet, as a true R.W., I will lay out far too much clothing and shoes then start the art of reducing the quantity. I always strive to pack lightly – yet end up over-packing still. Today I saw a forecast for rain, at least on our first day. Oh boy, time to rethink a few things.
I have had a few wise R.W.’s try to talk me off the ledge of over-preparation and the resulting exhaustion by convincing me to slow down long enough to consider what really does NOT need to be done. So I have taken a few things off my list. Really, I have. Like I’m not going to get any ironing done. Wrinkles can wait. My son’s birthday gifts may or may not get all wrapped. The house will be “no-longer-filthy” clean, not “guests-are-coming” clean. May not seem like much, but to me each of these is a fairly major concession.
Each night, as I crawl into bed worn out, I think to myself that I’m one day closer. One day closer to saying “good enough” and finally, truly, relaxing. Who knows, maybe each day of vacation I’ll let lose and be a bit spontaneous. One thing is for sure. I will certainly be prepared for it.