I will admit that I did terrible job packing for my family’s week-long Thanksgiving vacation to Southern California. As the designated momager to four small children and a husband, I am in charge of wardrobe planning and activity bag packing. Along with clothes and shoes, there are medications, special blankies and outdoor activity gear.

If you are a mom, you know this packing job sucks.

I was utterly uninspired for the packing tasks that lie ahead for this trip. I shoved long-sleeved clothes in for everyone. I packed those imitation Uggs. There were winter coats, sweaters and jeans included. I even packed myself these ridiculous flannel leggings and a wool sweater instead of my bathing suit.

The problem was, we weren’t going to Minnesota for Thanksgiving – we were going to Los Angeles. The weather was supposed to be in the 80s all week. The sad part is that I was privy to the weather report for the week and I still chose to pack like an idiot.

My poor packing had burdened us along the way, but we had made it work. Boots and long pants on the beach was definitely a bummer.   We looked like the Griswolds vacationing in Southern California, but it was working OK for a while.

Fast forward to our last day of our Thanksgiving break vacation. We drove to Huntington Beach to visit my brother-n-law and his family.

The day was so incredibly beautiful and the beach so pristine and vast with its white sand and perfectly shaped waves, so we decided for an impromptu beach stop.

My husband doesn’t always do impromptu well. He is very timely and he likes everything to be planned out perfectly. In other words, if he were the momager in charge of packing, there would be flip-flops instead of Uggs and shorts instead of pants on the beach.

Nobody had their bathing suits on so we piled into the disgusting beach bathroom with our too small beach bag that was shoved with towels, bathing suits and sunscreen. The bathroom had just been hosed down by maintenance so it was disgustingly sopping wet from floor to ceiling. No one wanted to stand on that floor without shoes. We couldn’t get to the bathing suits because they were at the bottom of the too small beach bag. We couldn’t put the beach bag on the ground because the ground was wet.

My husband stood in the bathroom loaded from head to toe with beach paraphernalia, my purse, kids shoes and socks and various other shit.

He was fuming. I could almost see the steam escaping in full force out of his ears in fury. In the past, my husband has had a few vacation meltdowns prompted by the stress of schlepping four small children around everywhere. It is no small feat catering to the demands and moods of six-year-old triplets and a high maintenance 10 year old for a week away from home.

“I cannot believe we don’t have beach shoes!” was his first outburst.

“Do we not have a single other beach bag other than this one?”

“I can’t stand how we never bring enough beach towels! There are four towels for six of us!”

“This whole vacation the kids haven’t had a single pair of shorts!”

“This is the worst packing job I have ever seen!”

Now I was fuming. I had already admitted earlier in the week that my packing sucked, and now at a low point in our lives he was throwing it in my face.

I responded like every wife in her right mind would and shouted “THEN YOU SHOULD’VE PACKED ALL THESE KIDS YOURSELF!” Do you think it is easy packing for five people for an entire week of vacation?”

Then he said what NO husband should ever say, “well I would’ve done a better job.”

Then I called him an asshole.

Then we walked to our beach spot and ignored each other for an hour while we watched our children run and jump in the waves and enjoy that very moment of the perfect day despite their crappy mother who can’t plan or pack properly.

My husband went into the ocean to swim. As I watched him, throwing daggers at him with my eyeballs, I suddenly noticed him grab his foot and almost fall.

He probably stepped on a rock. Big baby.

A few minutes later he walked up to me and said he thought a jellyfish stung his big toe. We walked over to the lifeguard station and that is when he learned that he was really stung by a Stingray. A Stingray? You mean the same animal that pierced its poisonous tail through Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter and killed him instantly?

Suddenly all our anger and hostility over my poor packing faded away. I loved my husband. He is the best husband and father in the world, he just doesn’t handle poorly planned impromptu situations well. My husband spent the next hour in pain with his foot in a bag of hot water. The kids came by to ask if they could take his Stingray First Aid bag that his foot was soaking in so they could use it for sand play because “they reallllyyyy need it.” We reminded them that the warm water was the only thing helping subdue the pain from getting stung.

That pretty much summarized the ups and downs of the family vacation.

Just a little story of the day a Stingray saved our last day of vacation, and maybe even our marriage.


Until next time, the mothership is signing off.


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How A Stingray Saved My Vacation
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5 thoughts on “How A Stingray Saved My Vacation

  • November 30, 2014 at 8:03 am

    This is the worse case of putting ones foot in their mouth.

  • November 30, 2014 at 8:10 am

    That is hysterical, Meg. Thank goodness for the sting ray–sorry, Chris.

  • November 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    If it makes you feel better about packing Meg,both Bette & I thought we were the worst. Every visit we have made to the California (nine times) we have brought back unused clothes. Unlike you Meg, we have never learnt to pack light. So glad the Stingray was a baby one & helped to keep the family together.

  • November 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Don’t give up Megan. Someday you will be vindicated. I had 3 boys who were 2 years apart…almost like triplets. I live in So. Calif. but one year we were going to San Diego. It was 103 in San Dimas when we left. I insisted we all take jackets. My husband made my life miserable as he kidded me the whole way down about the jackets. Guess what, when we got to San Diego the weather was windy and in the 60’s. If I hadn’t taken the jackets we never could have gone to any of the places we wanted or would have had to buy clothing. Just smile and some day you can get even.


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