It's been four days since my vacation ended, and I've never been more relaxed.  Not because of the vacation, but because I'm enjoying peace & quiet at home AFTER the vacation.  Believe me, I was on the edge of a nervous breakdown when I dumped my family in San Antonio on the way home.  Don't misunderstand me, I didn't ditch them in S.A., I dropped them off.  Big difference, with the biggest difference being they plan on coming home.  After a few weeks driving around the country to see family (hers, not mine) they'll be home... and my vacation will officially be over.

To see my boys smiles almost makes it worth all the stress of a vacation. Photo by Erica Garrett

It's sad that this isn't the first time I've had to mention this in my writings, but I really do love my family.  Anybody that tells you they love their family 24/7/365 is either a liar, or they're your spouse trying to make you feel like you don't really love them.  That being said, I finish up a family vacation and I'm in need of a vacation from my vacation.  Maybe I should take Bill Murray's advice and take a "vacation from my problems".

By the time a family vacation is done, I'm stressed.  From the very moment the vacation is planned I hear nothing about it for the next six months.  "Can we afford to go?"  "Can we stay an extra day this year?".  "What car should we take?"   "Can we STILL afford to go?"  These questions permeate my being for weeks & months leading up to the actual vacation.  The problem, of course, is that my wife (a teacher) begins her vacation in early June, and my vacation time doesn't come until July.  She's sort of stuck in a vacation purgatory that only she and the kids understand.  I'm still trudging along, with May & June being my two busiest non-football months.

Answering a few questions about the vacation pails in comparison to the stress of the actual vacation.  This year I took one for the team.  Even though my truck is newer, more costly, & worse on gas mileage, my wife's minivan stayed home.  That was a preemptive strike against her freak-out that would have come every time we got in the van from the time we left home until several months after returning home.  The beach gets your vehicle filthy.  I know this.  My wife knows this.  I suffer silently.  My wife does not.  I sacrificed Rihanna, my baby, so I wouldn't have to deal with the eventual meltdown that would've come at the first sight of sand in the van.  That stressed me out.

They'll never admit to it, but I think it's tough for the boys to keep up with mom & dad on vacation. Look at those tired boys! Photo by Jamie Garrett

The drive to and from the beach is the tale of two trips.  The kids are completely obnoxious with their uncontrollable excitement on the way to the beach, and they're inconsolable on the return trip, begging to move to the beach forever (sorry, actually that last part is what the adults are saying).  It's the biggest cliche your kids could ever ruin your day with, but yes, "Are we there yet" is still a thing.  You can't just cast off with, "We'll get there when we get there".  Ohhh no, the kids want to know exactly where we are, when we'll be there, and when the next pit stop will be.  You can't lie to them that you're almost there because they can see the GPS same as you.

The meat of the vacation is generally relaxing, but being that I'm the ocean rat & my wife is the beach bum... I'm on kid-duty 90% of the time.  The other 10% of the time is spent traveling back and forth to the hotel to pick up stuff we forgot & refill the beer.  I truly believe my two boys think I'm physically capable of being in two places at once. I boogie board with my older son while my younger son sits close to shore yelling at me to hurry & come get him.  I "snurf" with my younger son while my older son complains that I never play with him.  I just can't win.  My wife?  Oh, she's getting her Kindle on up on the shore.

The canopy from hell. If anyone comments on Facebook that, "That canopy is so easy to set up", I will hunt you down. Photo by a very humiliated Jamie Garrett

The stressful highlight of this beach journey was the moment my wife permanently removed my manhood & placed it out of my reach.  Allow me to explain... My wife's parents got her a pop-up canopy for the ballfield/beach that is supposed to set up instantly with one hand.  Apparently that instant set-up is mainly designed for a wind-free environment because after about 30 minutes of struggling with this canopy I'd given up.  There was no way in hell this canopy was going up... until my wife's cries of frustration attracted a do-gooder from the next spot that had been watching my troubles with (I'm quite sure) a lot of joy.

This young man (probably 16-17) was quick to hop in to help the hottie with the idiot husband that couldn't provide his wife with basic shelter.  It's the most crucial element of survival, and my pride & manhood took a major hit when someone volunteered to help me perform this most basic need for survival.  Right before his arrival I'd told my wife the canopy wasn't going up.  She should have picked up on my unwillingness to accept help and just relied on her SPF 4500 to keep the sun at bay.  But noooooooooooooooo, she said, "He'd love your help".  Tell me guys, am I overreacting to this?  No?  Didn't think so.

Look at my baby, Rihanna. At least I know no matter how bad I treat her, she'll still love me. Photo by a very depressed Jamie Garrett

You'll see in the pictures that the canopy was a lost cause.  Yet Mr. Helper decided to press on and did manage (with my supervisory skills at play) to get the canopy set up.  My wife just raved about what a great young man he was to help.  Maybe Mrs. Robinson should just go on vacation with our "friend" next year.  I am happy to say that, after a few hours of staying upright, the canopy crashed with flying colors when the wind kicked up that afternoon.  Not only did it crash.  It burned (figuratively speaking).  That canopy never left the beach.  It found a new home in a dumpster at the exit, and I'm sure it is now located at its permanent residence at some South Texas landfill.

All this leading to my point:  Vacations are stressful!!  Everybody wants something from you to make their trip more enjoyable and, as a result, everybody BUT YOU has a great vacation.  That's alright... I knew I had my ace-up-the-sleeve.  I knew I had 10+ days at home with no breakfast to make, so baths to coordinate & no extra dishes/laundry to suck up my free time.  I love my family.  I love my family vacations.  But I love my vacation-from-my-family-vacation just as much.  Sorry.