Monday, July 31, 2006

Dismaying Stories #18 and #19: Genes On Vacation

This post is a follow-up to Vacations and Families and Couples, Oh My! Two readers were kind enough to send in vacation stories. These submissions happen to illustrate similar issues so I thought I would present them together.

Dear Andrew,

I am a thirty year old married mom of an eighteen month old toddler. On our vacation we drove to my brother's house six hours away. It was more of a vacation for my husband than for me, I'm sure. When traveling with a baby, I have the same jobs / responsibilities as I do at home, and actually it's a little less convenient. It was a good bonding time for our family I think. However we visited my brother who is the ultimate bachelor and at times it felt like I was taking care of three children. My husband and brother would take frequent swims, meanwhile I would be giving the bath, putting the baby to sleep. One night however I rebelled and drank a little too much wine. My husband had to put the baby to bed and we announced to my mortified brother that we would be having sex in one of his guestrooms. I think he got over it and I merely told him that when he is married he'll know that you have to take the opportunities when they come.

Driving with a baby was fun as well. My husband thought we would be alternating but didn't realize that the passenger has the responsibility of navigating and keeping the baby entertained. So he ended up driving most of the time.

Signed, Traveling Mom

This response was followed by:

Dear Andrew,

Friends of ours owned a summer cottage while their three children were growing up, and spent virtually every summer weekend there. One day I was talking alone with the husband when he told me, "I work such long hours through the week that I really need a break by the time we get to the cottage. All I do while I'm there is sleep and golf."

I just stared at him. I was thinking, "Sure, YOU get a break but who's looking after those three kids?" And if he was such a workaholic, who was left with the kids all through the week? I'm sure his wife could have used a break too but apparently never got one.

This couple ended up getting divorced years later. I don't know whether his apparent lack of supportiveness was a factor but it certainly makes you wonder.

Signed, Shaking My Head

Dear Traveling and Shaking,

Thank you for contributing your vacation stories. I think they illustrate that your habitual family patterns can end up traveling with you. More than that, because you are away from the comforts of home, feeding, entertaining and caring for children can be more difficult. If the vacuum cleaner gene is recessive (or even missing) in your family, this fact can be even more apparent when you're on the road.

In my books, mutual supportiveness is a critical characteristic of a healthy marriage, one from which you should never take a vacation.

All the best,

Do any of the Dismaying Stories on this site strike a chord with you? Could you use some advice? Take a few minutes today to email your question. You can also enter a comment using the link below. Answers are provided in a compact, digital form that you can take with you while traveling.


  1. Must be hard that, both parents should be allowed to relax a bit on holiday I think. Very much agree with what you said.

  2. What is this "vacation" thing you speak of? ;) Please don't tell my children.

  3. Oh yeah... Vacation? What's that? ;)

  4. very good idea for a blog! bravo!

  5. well, thanks... relationships are a very important thing in life... as u say in your intro part...

    will ask for advice some day...

    btw, i dont know if you read much or not ... but try Alain De Botton 'Essays in love' (review on my blog) its relevent to your area of interest..