For many married men vacation is usually a nightmare; whiny kids, puking, lack of naps (for us and the kids), lack of sex, and lack of drinks. I rediscovered this for myself just this month with a trip to Disney World with my wife and our two-year old daughter.
Men want two things on vacation: sex and scenery. The scenery is the less important of the two.
I spent the month of March front-loading my work to make room for the week vacation. Then my wife got the stomach flu, threatening our trip. It turned out, but I did have to balance work, school work, the baby, the packing, and everything else for the four days prior to going. I was tired. When we finally arrived in Disney after twelve hours in the car I was at my wit’s end. Adventures awaited, or they had damn well better.
Little did I know that adventure was staying up the first night with a terrified toddler, a sick wife, a puked up breakfast, missing most of the first day due to said puking, and then having my parents show up late only to crawl through the parks at a snail’s pace (literally 0.5 mph) and having to cart my egotistical, stubborn-as-a-mule dad through the parks because he waited to get an electric chair and his heart can’t handle a quarter-mile walk.
Run-on sentence rant done.
Vacation was not relaxing for me, obviously. I was not alone. There was an unspoken agreement among the dads at Disney. We would shoot each other a consoling look to communicate this one simple message—we wouldn’t do this for a million bucks, but we’d do it for our kids. This suffering usually went unappreciated.
So why the hell do we do this? We could say, “Wife, kids: I am taking my well-earned vacation to a mountain cabin, alone, where I will eat chili and drink beer. Wife: you may come if you’re dtf.”
We don’t do it because selfishness does not breed. I don’t mean we don’t get laid if we’re selfish; I mean that selfishness produces nothing. Selfishness gets us exactly what I described—sitting alone, eating meat, and dying young. Even that mountain cabin required cooperation, and therefore selflessness, at some point.
We can’t be selfish and expect a return on the investment of family, or any personal investment for that matter. (Don’t confuse selfishness for self-interest here). Selflessness, which is morally superior, is necessary to produce anything of quality. It does mean short-term sacrifice, but so does every worthwhile thing.
I am still planning on having grandma come to take care of the baby while my wife and I cruise. I’ve earned it. But my wife, daughter, parents, and even myself all were able to have fun and fond memories because I was willing to bear a burden. Their happiness is good, even if my happiness sometimes needs to take a back-seat.
*(Note: My wife was a real trooper on this trip. I don’t want to exclude her from being fantastic.)