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vacation frame of mind

Coming home from the airport, the kids in their car seats and the trunk stuffed to capacity with bags and travel car seats, it would not be immediately clear to the casual observer which one of us had just returned from a two-week vacation. S, coming off an all-day flight alone with two kids, did not project the picture-perfect image of relaxation. D, meanwhile, looked liked he had gotten some sun and leisure during his family’s absence.

S had taken advantage of an extra R&R ticket to celebrate Thanksgiving with her parents, spending a week and a half with them in Tuscany and a few days in Amsterdam. She caught up with a couple of good friends, did some sightseeing, savored home-cooked Italian cuisine, and enjoyed watching the kids interact with their grandparents. On the other hand, as anyone who has young children can attest, one never quite feels off duty when traveling with little ones. Munchkin would spend hours at a time with his nana, ignoring S’s existence, but Junebug afforded S no such respite.

D, meanwhile, returned from his UK getaway to a mountain of work, but discovered – as he had when he came back alone to Kigali after paternity leave – that even long days at the office are not as cumulatively exhausting when one does not have parental responsibilities waiting at home at the end of the workday. D watched some good movies, hosted several game nights, and caught up on sleep.

On Saturday – his last day of de facto bachelorhood – D played in the expat world cup, a local soccer tournament that featured 11 teams loosely organized along national lines. All things considered, the US team exceeded D’s expectations, surviving what proved to be “the group of death” and making it to the semifinals – along with two other teams from the same group. By the time the team lost its semifinal match to Uganda, three players were out with injury and the rest could barely move, having played all day under the blistering Rwandan sun. With a 2-1-2 record and a +3 goal differential on the day, the team acquitted itself much better than the men’s national team.

Typically when we travel, we try to stretch our vacations out to the last possible day, not infrequently returning Sunday night with the knowledge that work awaits early the next morning. This time S returned on Saturday, hoping to have a day to recuperate from the return flight while D, who for all his freedom missed the kids terribly, helped take care of the children.

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