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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Why “Family Vacation” Is an Oxymoron

By Cheryl Maguire

It used to be easy to relax. All I needed was to be near a body of water with a towel and my Sony Walkman. As a mom to three children, this scenario is no longer possible. So to reclaim some sanity I booked a family vacation to a tropical paradise. I spent weeks dreaming of the trip. Anytime I felt stressed, I would envision myself basking in the sun with my music.

Ah, hope springs eternal.

When the day finally arrived, I was determined to unwind. The kids wanted to go to the hotel pool, so I grabbed three towels to make sure my deck chair was properly cushioned.

No laundry for a week! I took two more.

I carefully positioned all five towels on the chair. And then the moment finally came: I lay down, closed my eyes, and let the sun cover me like a warm blanket.

Then something blocked those glorious rays. Was it a cloud? Wet drops hit my arm. Was it rain?

No, but there was a storm brewing. Some might even say a hurricane.

My children were hovering next to me, dripping pool water all over my five towels and me.

“Do you want to ride on the Relaxa 100? You relax on the raft while we push you around!” my daughters chimed in unison.

Panic set in. Please don’t ask me to go into the pool. I don’t want to get wet.

“Please.” Their eyes stayed glued to me.

It was clear I was either going to have to try out the Relaxa or be dripped on for an undetermined amount of time.

“Mom you have to lay down and relax,” my older daughter instructed.

I leaned back onto the floating craft, nervous about what might happen next.

Then the arguing began.

“No, this way. I want to go this way,” my younger daughter asserted.

My older daughter ignored her and went in the exact opposite direction.

“You are going the wrong way,” the younger insisted, her voice piercing my ear.

Water splashed on my face as she forcefully attempted to steer the sinking ship, I mean raft.

“I thought this was called the Relaxa 100. There is nothing relaxing about this!” My voice grew loud.

“We need to show her the other side of the pool,” the older pressed.

“Does it really matter which side we go to?” I asked, trying to defuse the situation.

“No, this side is better over here.” The younger would not give in.

“Whatever, this is boring,” the older huffed before swimming away.

For maybe one minute I floated, sun pouring over me, a cool breeze the only sound.

Then my vessel jerked and twisted as the younger tired to drag it to the pool’s edge.


I was completely submerged.

At least I don’t have to wash all those towels. 

Find Cheryl Maguire on Twitter @CherylMaguire05.