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“Landslide” (Eulogizing The Most Important Person In The World)

I came across this line in a novel recently and it struck me profoundly, like a premonition of sorts…

From the novel “Faithful,” by Alice Hoffman:

“She doesn’t have a mother anymore. There is no one to whom she’s the most important person in the world.”

And, isn’t that really the essence of what a mother truly is? That very person for whom we are the MOST important person in the world.

My mom had a way of making people feel that way.  She truly believed in us and said as much to anyone who’d listen.

Even when  it was  a bit unrealistic.

I remember when my daughter Emilie was 8, she won a local Junior tennis tournament in our neighborhood. When I was sharing this with her overly-exuberant grandmother, I off-handedly remarked,

“Mom, calm down, it’s not like she’s going to Wimbledon!”

“What do you mean she’s not going to Wimbledon?” Grandma asked, entirely incredulous.

“Well – I kind’ve don’t think so,” I responded. What followed was a very long lecture that lasted the rest of the afternoon about not believing in my kids…

Honestly, mom was like that about everything. We often teased her about it. If you played football, she looked into getting a suite at the Super Bowl, if you painted, she framed your art, if you started a business, she tried to invest in it, if you wrote an article, she submitted it to Ellen.

In her eyes, we were all the very best of everything and the most important people in the world.

The truth is – when it came to relationships, love and believing in people- My mother was simply a FORCE.

She was born in 1939 in Mobile, Alabama. Her parents divorced shortly after. She was sent to live with second-cousins in Forest County, Mississippi for reasons that were never quite clear. They were happy to take the little one in for the $12 per month  the arrangement provided.

However, as the story goes, my mom’s maternal grandparents, Grandma and Granddaddy Hunter would go to visit their little granddaughter every single weekend.

One Sunday afternoon after their usual visit, 3 year old Doris chased her grandparents car as they departed down a dirt road. The valiancy of this effort tugged so hard at her grandparents’ heartstrings that they abruptly stopped the car, backed up and sent her after her two little dresses and meager belongings. That very day two empty nesters (well into their 60s) committed to raise their daughter’s daughter as their own child…

They were the most important people in the world…

She met our dad on the day he was kicked out of the local Catholic boys high school and sent to the public school. It was March of his Senior year. There was Doris sitting primly at her mother’s (the school secretary) desk eating her lunch. Our mom always claimed she certainly wasn’t interested in the “stereotypical bad boy” type. In fact, she was even “pinned” to a preacher’s son at the time.

But dad was persistent. He kept asking her to go out and insisting each time that it “wasn’t a date” just a group of people all going to the beach or a parade or out to dinner. But these outings – they were definitely not dates. My dad could really “turn a phrase,” but this is mom’s eulogy and if she were here, she would tell me to stay on point. So I guess the point is that dad fought for and eventually won her heart and they went on to marry in August of 1960.

He worshipped his girl his entire life. My siblings and I were discussing the other day how we never heard him say one negative word against her. Nor would he tolerate such from anyone else. Of course as kids we would occasionally attempt to complain about her for the times she locked us outside on a hot summer’s day forcing us to drink from a garden hose, or if she burnt our grilled cheese and scraped the black into the sink, if she confiscated our car keys when we were teens. He would have none of it. She was perfect. She was his princess.

Although mom was raised humbly and modestly by her grandparents, she stepped into the role of a military officer’s wife quite adeptly. I don’t know if she researched the role or just had a knack for it, but she entertained other officers and General’s wives like she was the original Martha Stewart. I remember as a young girl sitting in the kitchen oohing and ahhhing as she made a topiary Christmas tree out of crudité vegetables long before Martha or Pinterest.  All she really wanted was for dad to be proud of her and he was. The Bible describes the perfect wife in Proverbs 31. It says “And she did him well all the days of her life…”

And she did.

 He was the most important person in the world.

Indeed, Family was our mother’s entire world…

You could tell by the way she single-handedly held us all together during the most frightening days when my dad was deployed to Vietnam. Nothing speaks to gritty resolve like the role of a military wife and mother during wartime.

I particularly remember the month of July in 1969. My mother sent me and my sister outside with a pencil and paper to sketch Colonel Armstrong walking on the moon. I realized many years later that she had simply created a diversion for us.

That same week she turned 30 and let me go with her to Gayfers to buy some wrinkle cream my Aunt Rosie had recommended. I remember at the time thinking that 30 was ancient and perhaps her window had passed. But my mom was determined that her soldier wasn’t going to come home disappointed that he left behind a 29 year-old-girl and returned to find a 30 year-old-woman.

(Just between us – I don’t think it was her 30th birthday milestone that made a woman out of our mom that year.)

A year or so later, while my parents were stationed in Germany, our father had a heart attack that forever altered the course of our lives. I remember the day she received that phone call from the hospital. My mom was 31 and there was a doctor on the other line telling her that her 33 year old husband had suffered a massive coronary. I recall sitting beside her on the bed- she was in shock and kept asking the doctor, “what about my children?”

Even as her own future crumbled around her, her children were the most important people in the world…

She returned to the United States crossing the ocean alone with 3 young children in tow while dad was medically evacuated. She settled us into a new home and new schools. And then she went back to college to acquire some secretarial skills. She gave up her life as a stay-at-home mom and her dream of having another child to ensure our family security in the event our dad never fully recovered.

But that decision to forgo having another child had her literally chomping at the bit a decade or so later to have some grandchildren. She trailed me and my groom around our wedding reception asking just how long we planned to make her wait to get a baby in her arms.

I’ve often said, if there’s another woman out there that relished the role of being a grandmother more than my mom, I want to meet her (and then possibly arrange to be her grandchild).

There simply aren’t words to express my mother’s joy and personal pride over each and every one of her grandchildren’s existence. In the earlier years, we often worried that maybe she needed to “pace herself” after the first few were born, because it was a daunting job to keep up with all the love and attention she lavished on our kids.

But honestly, there was no pacing Grandma…

Yet I do believe all 9 grandkids would say she managed to pull it off. She created an opportunity to speak and spend time privately with each one of them in the final few weeks before she passed away.

Her grandchildren were the most important people in the world…

As many of you know, the rapid progression of my mom’s disease collided headlong into her euphoria over her first great-grandchild’s conception and due date. But she never let her own despair overshadow her anticipation of this baby’s birth. In fact, she made it her personal goal to stay alive until he arrived. And she succeeded. I will for the rest of my days remain forever awed, mystified and grateful that my newborn grandson drew his very first breath the day before his Great-grandmother drew her very last.

That baby was the most important person in the world.

Of course I knew my mother had a million friends. Why wouldn’t she? She was colorful. She had panache. She was magnetic, charismatic, charming, a giver and a doer. I heard stories about her friends; I listened to the plans she made around them; I saw pictures of them and occasionally met them if I was in town.

But nothing (literally nothing) prepared me for the sheer number of friends coupled with the outpouring of love and devotion we received from each and every one of you during our mother’s illness.

(As a side note, when a group of Texans decide to shower you with support during a difficult time, you should plan to gain a few pounds, because they’re going to pour some sugar on you. We’ve been eating our grief for weeks now…)

My mother’s friends are, without a doubt, the most important people in the world…

Our mother knew how to do things right… And the right way was the Doris way.  When she wasn’t bragging on us, she was dispensing advice on how to avoid our many and endless foibles.

She told me once, when we were driving around running some errands in Oklahoma, “Now, In Texas, we are required to actually stop at all of those stop signs you just whizzed through!”

She loved to share the “Doris Way.”  She would happily share her recipe for Cheeseburger Macaroni or explain a few hacks for diapering a baby.

The other day I was diapering tiny baby Luke and I made a quick mental note to mention to mom later that I was “really slathering on the Desitin!” (Mom loved the word “slather.” If a product was worth using, it was certainly worth “slathering.”) It took a split second before I realized that I would not be bragging to my mom or impressing her ever again with my generous abuse of diaper ointment.

It kicked me straight in my approval seeking heart to know that she was gone forever.

One of her favorite “Dorisisms” was to tell you to make yourself a note so you don’t forget. I was in charge of bringing the dress she was to be buried in to the funeral home. I did not write myself a note. It’s not like I was actually going to forget.

When we arrived at the funeral home last week, I realized I had indeed remembered to bring the dress, but had left it in my car. If mom had been sitting at that table, she would’ve admonished me to get up “right this minute” and go get it NOW while it was “fresh on my mind.” But I didn’t do that. And again, I didn’t write myself a note.

I’m sure by now you’ve all figured out exactly what I did – yes, I drove that dress all the way back to Oklahoma, where it could do no one any good.

Y’all should’ve heard the sobs pouring out of me as I reached into the backseat of my car to grab my overnight bag, saw the dress hanging there and realized that I had let my own mother down the very day she died. I could just see her shaking her head and saying, “I asked you to do one thing….just one little thing for me when I passed away…what on Earth is the matter with you?”

Mom, honestly I wish I knew what on Earth was the matter with me, but no one can say you didn’t try…

Our mother was endlessly creative, an incredible hostess, a fashion plate and a homemaker extraordinaire. She was a loyal daughter, a devoted wife, an amazing mother, a doting grandmother and a loyal friend.

But most importantly, if we were listening, if we were watching, if we were making notes and taking notes, if we were paying really close attention – we realize she simply loved us.

Hard.

And her legacy will forever be realized as we, each and every one of us, in turn, love those that come after us – making sure they know that THEY’RE the most important people in the world.

“I Guess You’re Just What I Needed” (Everyone Can Use A Little Undiluted Adoration…)

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I’ve always loved being a mother.

My own mother insisted I would, and she was right.

I loved that my babies were mine and I was theirs. I loved how they looked at me with the purity of undiluted adoration.  I loved being the center of their universe.

Like most parents, there were certainly stages I liked better than others. I loved the baby years, and the toddler years hardly fazed me.  I rather enjoyed the little-kid years too.

And you may have noticed, there were times I barely tolerated the inevitability of teenagers.

But, all in all, there’s been beauty in the journey.

Less than a year ago, I found out my daughter was going to be a mother. I was delighted for her – that she was going to experience this abundant joy. But, it wasn’t long before I put two and two together and realized this meant I was going to be a grandmother.

(And, even more inexplicable – the hunk of burning love I call a husband was going to be a Papa? What?)

When people heard the news, everyone started raving about how utterly amazing it was going to be to become grandparents. As though everyone had eaten at a top-notch restaurant or seen an award-winning Broadway play that we had yet to experience.

While I was enamored with the idea of my daughter becoming a mother, I wondered if there was any way this thing could happen without essentially changing who I am.

Because I identify as “Mom.”

It seems like my babies were in my arms just the other day. Toddling around my coffee table grabbing objects as fast as I could move them higher, finger painting on the window of my car with a packet of McDonalds ketchup, mispronouncing words, asking for help with homework, tying their shoes, making free throws, dressing for prom.

It’s not that I didn’t want grand-babies, it’s just that I wanted my own babies back.

Whenever I expressed this reticence, it was immediately waved off and dismissed with promises of euphoria from friends and family. Everyone insisted that there was NOTHING better than being a grandparent.

If we heard it once, we heard it a million times, “you get to love them, enjoy them, spoil them and then when you’re done – you give them back to their parents!”

I’ve never quite understood why that arrangement is widely considered ideal. I liked ruining my own children and then keeping them for myself.  I’m possessive that way.

Irrespective and independent of all these self-actualized musings, my daughter delivered our first grandchild yesterday – right on time – as promised.

We couldn’t knock each other down fast enough to get into the hospital room after his birth. After all, we knew nothing about the little stranger. We didn’t even know his name. We began the process of making preliminary introductions all around.

Things slowly calmed down as the day proceeded and eventually all the friends, aunts, uncles and grandfathers made their way back to schools, farms and restaurants…to so-called “regular life.” But I stayed a while longer on the couch basking in the limelight of a miracle.

And I held him.

When it was time to go, I did what they say grandparents are supposed to do. I gave him back to his parents. As I gingerly passed him from my arms, I discerned a flicker of something I recognized.  I peered a bit closer…

And there it was – lo and behold – a wave of familiarity.  Every one of my babies accumulated in this one tiny face. And I’m pretty sure I saw my parents too.

And then, essentially changed, I thought, ‘you might be just what I needed.’

 

 

“Reminiscing” (Living Our Lives Through Our Mother’s Lens…)

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The night I was engaged. Who’s happier – Me or Mom?

My mother has always been my Go-to Girl.  My Chief Advisor.  My One-tell. For as long as I can remember, almost everything I’ve ever experienced in my life was viewed and evaluated through the prism of my mother’s perspective.

Everything.

Remember those elastic bracelets people wore years ago that said “WWJD?” (What would Jesus do?) I spent a lifetime wondering “WWMD?” What would Mom do? (Or think or say?)

This might be a good time to admit to my closest friends that every time they told me a secret and I promised to keep it, “cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” I never actually stuck that needle in my eye, even though I always went straight to my mom with their confidence.

Any time anything happened, no matter how minor or mundane, I always began a running narrative in my head telling mom all about it. And that’s assuming I didn’t call and fill her in immediately.

-Whether I bought something on sale (“Remember that blouse we saw in Nordstrom…”)
-Whether I ran into someone (“You’ll never believe who I saw today…”)
-Anything and everything her grandchildren said or did (“Tommy said the cutest thing, we were sitting at the dinner table and…”)

Nothing was too insignificant to mention:
“I ordered the chicken!”
“The hotel was gorgeous!”
“I had the worst headache!”

Our mothers are our very first listeners.

And I was blessed to tell mine so many wonderful things like, “We’re engaged!” “I’m pregnant!” “We bought a house!” “I’m published!” and a few not-so-good things, the most awful was, “He said you’ve got Leukemia” and a few months later, “They said there’s nothing left they can do…”

Like all matriarchs, my Mama loves our family lore:

Remember the time Dad parked the Winnebago on the beach at Padre Island and the tide came in while we were asleep? We woke up the next morning to the serene sounds of waves lapping tires and realized we were surrounded by ocean…”

“Remember traveling back to the U.S. from the Army base in Germany, after Dad had his heart attack and we couldn’t get a taxi to make our connection in Philadelphia? (No one seemed excited to transport an Army Wife traveling alone with her 3 “Brats.”) As you tossed our luggage on top of an unsuspecting cab, you shouted at us kids to jump in, leaving the cabbie no choice but to take us!”

“What about the time I threw a paper airplane in class which my teacher intercepted, unfolded and wrote a note on – requesting your signature?  You took my plane, unfolded it again, inserted it in your IBM Selectric and proceeded to type your own note informing the teacher how proud you were that I was preparing for a career in Aeronautical Engineering!”

My mom is a sassy one, but she had it a little bit wrong that time. The paper airplane episode didn’t indicate that I was destined to become an Aeronautical Engineer, just that I was destined to be a mischief-maker who acted up, talked too much and would stop at nothing to make people laugh.

I did, however, follow in her footsteps to become a sassy mother.

These days my mother and I have entered a new phase of talking, listening, laughing and crying. Her tiny body is indeed spent from the fight, yet still she yearns for a few more significant insignificant days to give her children her undivided attention.

And we will fill this time with tales of hilarity, courage and that inexplicable powerful force called motherlove. The wonderful and the trivial, peppered here and there with a story about someone else’s drama or something fabulous we bought on sale.

It is, after all, what Mom would do.

“Bringing Sexy Back!” (How To Know If That’s A Loud Cliche You’re Hearing)

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Circa 1982

We’ve all heard of the dreaded “Mid-life Crisis.” Many of us have wondered if it’s coming our way. Some of us have even seen signs.

A few of us might’ve witnessed the phenomenon second-hand, when our own parents grappled with their versions in the 70s and 80s. That’s when a bottle of Grecian Formula showed up on Dad’s side of the vanity. Or maybe our mothers splurged on a pair of “Candies.”

When WE were teens, we considered everyone over the age 40 “ancient,” but our parents sure didn’t see it that way. They were too busy blaring their Commodores  8-track and sucking down Geritol.

Nowadays we find ourselves scanning the horizon for even a tell-tale whiff of a mid-life cliche – in ourselves or, even worse, in our spouse. As a result, every purchase we make is under high-level scrutiny.

But, how does one actually KNOW for sure if a purchase is “classic mid-life crisis,” or if it’s simply an item we genuinely needed or legit always wanted? What if there really is no hidden-agenda or deep rooted psychological meaning? How can one tell?

I believe the best thing we can ever give our spouse is the benefit of the doubt, so I refuse to overthink my hubby’s recent purchase of a motorcycle.

Sometimes Candies are just shoes…so it’s entirely possible that a motorcycle is just a vehicle.

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After all, when I met my husband, he was 18 and rode a motorcycle. It was a silver Kawasaki that my parents forbade me to ever ride on. I obeyed them for a quick minute before I clambered on the back. But in my defense, he did have two helmets and I didn’t want to come across high-maintenance, stuck-up or persnickety.

What halcyon days those were. We had tons of fun and made endless memories…all up until the day the day that bike was stolen.

Which might be the only time I’ve seen the man cry in 35 years.

By and by, we bought a car, recited our vows, installed some car seats and literally got down the road to raising a family. We never looked back. At least I thought we didn’t, until the other day, when he found the exact same bike and bought it.

I don’t know why I was so surprised when he called me outside to take a look.  He told me he was going to buy another one someday. I guess he and that bike had unfinished business.

When I sighed and rolled my eyes, he said, “What??? You used to love my bike!”

“I did…when we were teenagers!”

But now we are adults, mere weeks away from becoming actual grandparents.

I’m bringing sexy back,” he quipped.

To further reassure me, he yelled over the insane loudness of the engine, “DON’T WORRY, I’M NOT GOING TO RIDE IT!”

Apparently, he’s just going to park it in the garage and rev the engine from time to time.  Which would be such a relief if I believed him.  (And I would believe him if I reserved clunking around in loud dangerous shoes for our house only.)

What I believe is that our grand-baby’s gonna hear sexy coming from a mile away…

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Circle of Advice” (You Gotta Boss Like a Boss Y’all!)

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My mom has been telling me what to do my entire life. I mostly take her advice.

In college, I majored in what she told me to major in.

You’re a good writer,” she said. “You should major in Journalism.”

Done.

I married who she told me to marry.

You should marry him,” she said. “He’s the best!”

Done.

I had a bunch of kids because she told me I should.

You should have a bunch of kids,” she said. “You’d be a good mother.”

Done. Done. Done. Done and Done.

The woman is a visionary.  And, what’s more, there is absolutely nothing too minor to advise on. Every year when allergy season starts, I get a full tutorial on how to use Flonase:

It goes without saying, there have been a few things she has recommended that I have stubbornly refused to do through the years:

-Cut my hair (the length keeps it weighted down and arguably less frizzy)
-Eat seafood (gag me)
-Invest in a really good bra (why?)
-Wear sensible shoes (I need the extra inches to balance out my hair)

I’m probably never going to take ALL of her suggestions, but Mom remains undaunted. She continues to advise with enthusiasm. And why wouldn’t she? Her success rate is about 97%. After all, I’m out there stopping at stop signs (mostly) and taking a multi-vitamin daily.

It doesn’t matter how many times I tell her that I’m 54 years old, I’ve been married 33 years, I’ve raised 5 kids of my own and I know what I’m doing.  I know how to be a person. My mom is unconvinced. I’ll always be a rookie in her eyes. Just one screw-up short of disaster.

The only thing that vindicates me is that my mom feels this way about everyone.

Yesterday, she was getting a medical procedure at the hospital by a locally renowned doctor that presumably had medical degrees out the wazoo. That didn’t matter to mom. The last thing she told this guy, before they conked her out, was “take someone in there with you to keep an eye on my breathing and blood pressure while I’m under!”

(Like maybe he was going to move a dresser and might want to ask a buddy to give him a hand.)

This doctor’s mature response mystified me. He didn’t jump up and down and start touting how many times he has performed a biopsy.  He didn’t develop an eye twitch. He just agreed with her. Like it was a capital idea. And then he introduced his medical team.

Thank goodness for the circle of life. Because now I have daughters who clearly need my help and guidance as they attempt to meander through life. Why just yesterday I received this text from my youngest girl. She was out-of-town and needed help knowing what to order for breakfast…

I looked over the menu she screen shotted and texted her a TO-GO order for myself…

A few hours later, I had to dash over to another daughter’s house to render a decorating opinion…

I guess that old adage is true.

“A son’s a son ’til he takes a wife, but a daughter’s a daughter all her life!”

It occurred to me that my boys never called or texted me this weekend to ask my opinion. NOT ONCE.  About anything. And the dudes aren’t even married.  It rankles me to think of them bumbling around out there in the world with an utter lack of guidance.

Or maybe…they’re bypassing me and straight-up texting Grandma.   After all she does totally outrank me in the chain of command.

 

My mother on the importance of wearing clean underwear.

“If You’re Willing To Play The Game, It Will Be Coming Around Again” (The Revolving Door of Child-Rearing)

What does what does your cart say about you?

You can tell a lot about a person’s stage of life by examining their grocery cart. One glance at mine and you can plainly see the revolving door of the American Family.

The stated goal of every parent is to raise your kids to grow up and fly away on their own. But, it seems like as soon as the mission is accomplished, we start wishing they were home again.

We pine for the days when they were small, adoring and entirely dependent.  We yearn to have our babies back.

In the checkout line of the grocery store this morning I was overcome with melancholy as I philosophized about my purchases. My basket was definitely a “Tell All” story of children coming and children going.

Starting with the fact that sitting right on top was an enormous box of Huggies…

I wonder if the cashier at Target was confused by the diapers and wondered if YOU were actually having a baby?!” my daughter pondered aloud as she unloaded bags.

I must admit that stung a bit.

I don’t look that old!” I snapped, “I could still have another baby if I wanted to!”

I realized it was the first box of diapers I’d bought in 15 years. When my First-born’s First-born arrives next month, it’ll be “all hands on deck” and I was thinking it might be wise to have a case or two of nappies lying around. (Sort’ve the grandmother version of a Hope Chest.)

One of the reasons my youngest daughter was even helping unload groceries was to supervise the hiding of the healthy food. The healthy food purchases are indicative of the fact that she is moving back in with us for her last year of college.

I’m so happy about this that I’m willing to accommodate her need for expensive organic food items – which we are compelled to hide from our menfolk.

But, the guys weren’t entirely forgotten. There was also an abundance of going-back-to-college supplies in my cart. A shower caddy, a blanket, a laundry hamper and some Tide pods, among other things.

The summer really flew by. It seems like my oldest son just got home and now he’s leaving again.

He told me the other day that he needed to talk to me when I got home. I worried as I drove home, wondering what was up. But it turned out he just wanted to give me a list of items he needed before he departs for College Town and also to thank me for letting him live with us this summer.

He added that it was an awesome time…

…proving that although our kids are large, they are still adoring and somewhat dependent.

It occurs to me, with a tinge of sadness, that this may have been his last summer to live at home. Maybe – maybe not. Who even knows anymore?

I guess I’m glad, for now, that our door swings in both directions and it certainly appears The Wee One is arriving just in time.

“Vacation – All I Ever Wanted!” (Peep My Family Vacation For What To Do And Not Do On Yours…)

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We just returned from our much-needed, long-awaited, highly-anticipated beach vacation. As with many families, our vacations always look better in the planning stages, than they do from the metaphorical Rear View Mirror of Real Life…

Every year I arrive home a poorer, slightly wiser version of myself. I’m no fancy Travel Blogger, but I did compile a short list of guidelines to refer to when planning next year’s vacation. You might find these tips helpful as well.

Don’t bring your kids…

We love our kids, we really do, but they’ve been known to rain on our parade. They simply introduce a different element to the “travel experience” with their likes/dislikes, high standards, unsolicited opinions and general disdain for anyone over the age of 35.

The only thing worse than listening to them snipe at one another, is when they join forces against their parents. Indeed, there were brief glimpses of sibling solidarity when united against a common foe – us.

They mocked our music, barely smirked at our jokes, spoke a slanguage we didn’t understand and then rolled their eyes when we asked for clarification or a definition. The Millennial Wordofthe-Week was “peep.” Once we looked it up in the Urban Dictionary and understood it contextually, we tried to use it as casually and often as possible.

(Example: “Peep your favorite Ginger as she stars in her kids’ Snap Chat Stories all week!”)

Honestly, leave your children at home. They’ll just cost you money and make you wait longer at restaurants for a table.

If you Do bring your kids, don’t let them bring friends…

You might read this and assume that maybe we didn’t like the kids our kids brought along on the trip. Au Contraire! In fact, we liked them more than we liked our own offspring.

It’s just that it didn’t take long before we remembered that NO FAMILY can withstand the intense level of scrutiny that comes from 7 straight days in a Condo with non-family members.

It’s like being under a microscope!

When tension inevitably erupted (every 5-6 minutes or so) I couldn’t help but obsess over what our young guests would be reporting back to their folks about us.

If I wanted our family drama peeped that closely, I would try to book us on our own Reality TV series and generate a little income. We had more than a few dicey vacation moments that would’ve made the Kardashians look downright “peace” in comparison.

If you do let your kids bring guests, do treat them as if they were your very own…

Mid way through our week, my daughter’s friend twisted her ankle walking out of a restaurant. I want to stress that I neglected this child as if she were my very own flesh and blood – which is to say that I barely peeped the situation.

Imagine my chagrin when she ended up in a boot a few days after our trip was over. Apparently her parents insisted upon an X-ray when she hobbled back through their front door. And, I am pretty sure that’s when they imposed their own “travel ban.”

3 more Do’s and another Don’t

Do consider giving the kids a modest stipend…It might feel like you’re paying them to hang out with you, but you’re really paying them to not hang out with you

Don’t opt for a lump sum at the beginning of the trip…It’s best to divide the funds out “per diem style.” Otherwise, you’ll be back on your bank app doing money transfers – anything to buy them off for for the last few days of peace that would be had at a hefty price.

Do remember they’re called the “friendly skies” for a reason…  Not to say the 15 hour drive down with our kids wasn’t an absolute joy, but when we spontaneously decided to fly ourselves home and let our kids drive the car back, we high-fived ourselves all the way home from the airport. Trust me – You won’t miss another round of the car game, “20 Questions!”

Do snap as many pictures as possible the first few days…Young people get less photogenic and far less cooperative after limbs are fractured and the money stream has dried up.