We're in the middle of vacation (but my home is under the watchful eye of the folks I swapped with), and I'm starting to understand why my mother was the least nuts of all of us about traveling. As it turns out, when you're the mom on vacation, you have to smile - a lot. Because each day offers a new day full of adventure, and unknown food, and u-turns, and at least one child in the backseat falling asleep on her shoulder. This is more tiring than you might imagine.
You have to be the one who keeps it together when everyone else is melting down because they've had too many days of being out of their routine. You have to absorb a lot of negative energy, rather than sending it back out in the universe. This might cause you to snap, once. And if you do, in the morning, you have to pull it back together and rally for a new day.
The mom on the vacation is the one that remembers to put hats on each of her children, grab her own hat, and grab the camera bag. She also carries her water bottle and every time she has access to ice, she pops the top and adds more ice because one of her children prefers ICE COLD WATER!
If you are the mom on vacation, you have to know when to walk slowly, when to race everyone to the next destination, and when to let things slide. You have to figure out when your children should be put into separate bedrooms so bedtime can be salvaged for half the crew.
You have to figure out when to jump out of bed in the morning because the other adults need sleep more than you. And, just like at home, you have to be ready to provide middle-of-the-night assistance.
But when you are the mom on vacation, you must also remember that the reason your children whine to you, at times, is because you're their touchstone. You're the person who rights their ship, as needed.
And even when your hips are hurting so bad you can hardly sit down because the bed you are sleeping on is too soft, you have to figure out a way to right those ships. Because you never know what vacation memory your children will keep with them when they're old, and you really hope it's the one you're smiling in.