It was with some measure of trepidation that I allowed my parents to leave today to gallivant around Europe for the next six weeks.
Yes, I know they’re adults.
Yes, I know they’re technically allowed to make their own choices without my input, permission or excellent advice.
Yes, I know I repeatedly pressured them to “take a break,” “go on a trip,” and “make retirement look appealing rather than exhausting so I have something to look forward to post-child-rearing.”
But they managed to ignore me so well and for so long, I wasn’t sure they would ever leave.
“No, no,” they’d protest. “We want to be here to help with our grandkids, to run the karate schedule, to plant your garden and take care of your yard.”
Um, yes, please.
It was all working out so well. I would nobly suggest they take a more leisurely approach to retirement. They would slog away growing my tomatoes.
And then it happened. The unthinkable.
They booked a vacation.
And not a two-weeker. A six-weeker.
This will be good for me, I tell myself. This will make me self-reliant. This will make me learn about tomatoes.
But my Dad made one serious error in his planning. ‘Cause, while I’m supposed to miss them achingly and realize how much they do for our kids and us, he made me an offer. An offer I couldn’t refuse.
See, Greg and I own two cars; the glamorous car and the minivan. We used to own two minivans, but I couldn’t take it. So I bought the glamorous car. It’s a used Pontiac Vibe. ‘Cause Pontiacs are so sleek and so sexy, and they make people SO jealous. It has cloth seats.
I know. Try to hold yerself back.
My Pontiac is completely impractical for family life. Glamorous cars always are. It seats 5. That means our whole family can’t fit in it, and I’m all, “Whatever. Hauling more than 4 kids anyway is totally unsexy.”
The uber-hip, extra cool Pontiac is probably the reason why my dad wasn’t certain what my response would be when he made his offer.
Last week, as we were going over important details for my parents’ departure – things like our #1 family rule, “No dying” – my dad said, “So, I’m not going to be here to drive it. Do you want keys to my convertible while we’re gone?”
Maybe diving across the dinner table to get at the keys, squealing like a 16-year-old with her first car, and then jumping up and down and yelling, “YES! YES! DO I WANT THE KEYS TO THE CONVERTIBLE?! YES!” was a little over the top. But I think he got my point.
It’s just that the opportunities for a mother of 5 to be cool are, well, rather scarce. Even if she owns her very own Pontiac.
So I’m trying to be sad about the family time we’ll miss with Nana and Papa this summer. The BBQ’s. The sleepovers. The last-minute babysitting. The sitting on the patio with my dad and a beer.
I’m trying to think about whether my tomatoes are getting too much water. And whether the soaker hose is working. And whether my 4-year-old can teach me how to reset the water timer if it’s not.
I’m trying to send my parents off with wishes for a memorable and relaxing trip. To remind them to take pictures. To reassure them that updating Facebook isn’t hard, and that publicizing their vacay won’t result in their condo being robbed.
I’m trying to miss them terribly like a good, dutiful daughter.
But my inner 16-year-old has taken over my mind. CON. VERT. Ih. BULL.
I’m picking up my summer car this afternoon!
Bon Voyage, Mom and Dad! Have a great trip. Send postcards. We’ll miss you!
(THIS AFTERNOON! Hee hee hee.)