I’ve been on an extended holiday.

I love that word, “holiday.”  When I use it I immediately imagine myself as Bridget Jones, riding down the road in the passenger seat of a convertible being driven by Hugh Grant (I prefer Colin Firth but that’s not the scene in the movie), my luxurious hair blowing perfectly in the wind.  Then we arrive at our hotel in the English countryside and spend a week being pampered, enjoying delicious food and taking romantic walks along the shore and canoe rides in the lake.  (Real me would never ride a canoe in a lake unless the lake were frozen, but Bridget Jones me is a wild and crazy gal.)

My holidays only look like that in my imagination.  In real life, I’m in the passenger seat of a minivan that is packed to the gills with beach crap;  my greasy, unwashed hair is plastered to my face; my children are in the back seat three feet apart and yet still fully capable of beating the crap out of each other; and then when we get to our roadside hotel, I make Virginia Slims Man find a local convenience store to purchase a case of Bud Light Lime-a-ritas so that I can get through the night without illegal drugs.

We went to North Carolina for a week at the beach with my family.  There were 20 (10 adults, 10 kids) of us in one house. It was a nice week — if you enjoy chaos. If you do not enjoy chaos I suggest you avoid my family.

The Beast exhausted himself in the ocean every day and slept like a rock most nights.  Then he’d wake promptly at 5:30 every morning and say, “The sun is up!  Let’s got to the beach.”  VSM or I would give him one of our iPhones and tell him to watch a show until it wasn’t such an ungodly hour, and then one of us, the one I’d describe as the loser, would take him upstairs and pump him full of Fruit Loops and get him ready for a day at the beach.

Good parenting, I know.

Every year my family takes this beach trip and every year I go through the same process.  About one month before the trip I tell myself that I’m going to get into great shape so that I can wear a bikini to the beach.  I start working out consistently and eating super healthy and do that successfully for about a week.

Then something will interfere with my resolve — say, a hangnail or an overwhelming desire to consume all of the Swiss Cake Rolls in the world — and I’ll quit working out and will adjust my goal from being able to wear a bikini to simply being able to go the beach without being mistaken for a beached sea lion.

I’ve never worn a bikini to the beach.  Likely never will.

So about three weeks before our vacation, I stopped working out, started eating whatever I wanted and said things like, “There’s always next year.”  And, “Maybe I’ll go no-carb the week before we leave.”  I did not go no-carb.  I didn’t even go low-carb.  I went high-wine, low-fiber.

So we drove across the whole freaking country for our vacation.  About an hour into the 18-hour drive The Beast decided that this road trip was just not at all pleasing him, and he figured that if he was miserable, then the whole van was going to be miserable.

He succeeded in spades.  He started screaming and crying and when we tried to console him, he’d scream “Ne-vah!”  A while back I started putting him in timeout whenever he told me “no.”  So, being the evil genius that he is, and since I let him watch way too much Jake and the Neverland Pirates, he picked up on the fact that Captain Hook says “Never!” all the time and it seems to have a similar meaning to “no.”  So now, whenever we say anything that he generally finds disagreeable, he screams “Ne-vah!” with an adorably evil British accent.

It actually would have been funny if we weren’t so irritated and ready to drive the whole family off of a cliff.

Then, by the grace of God, we arrived at our hotel.  I hooked up my carbon monoxide detector, ordered a pizza and made VSM find some alcohol.  I tried to let go of my concerns about bed bugs and God knows what else on the hotel sheets and get some sleep.

We finished our drive on day two and spent the week at the beach.

Now, I have a college friend who is also a Facebook friend and she’s beautiful. She posts pictures of her beach vacations and they’re amazing.  She’s always dressed in a classy bathing suit or a beach dress of some sort and a cute hat.  Her long blonde hair is always perfectly beachy and not at all gross.  She’ll take a picture of her perfectly painted toes dipped gently in the ocean or the adorable beach drinks she’s drinking and the Tupperware full of orange slices she’s eating.

I am not a thing like my Facebook friend.  I always tell myself that I’m going to be cute at the beach, but instead I wear a pair of gray running shorts and a ratty tank top over my bathing suit and a ball cap on my head to hide the fact that I haven’t showered in three days and my hair is holding enough grease to prepare a cookie sheet.  I wake up every morning with every intention of packing my cooler with fruit and water, but instead I pack it with Little Debbie’s and a Bubba Keg full of margaritas.

Like my friend, we take family photos every year at the beach.  My friend’s photos look like something from a magazine photo shoot.  My photos look like something from the cover of Mistakes in Photography Magazine. This year we attempted to take family photos on the beach in what I would describe as hurricane force winds.  So my salt water-, sand- and grease-encased hair combined with a case of acne courtesy of a week’s worth of natural sunscreen buildup gave me just the drunken mugshot look I was going for.

This week The Beast and I had this conversation:

Beast:  Mom, what happened to you?

Me:  What do you mean?  Nothing happened to me.  I’ve been right here.

Beast:  No, what are the spots on your face?

Me:  Oh, you mean “What happened to you?” as in “Why do you look that way?”  I have a lovely case of beach acne.  Thanks for bringing it up.

Anyway, I’ve been on holiday.  I’m actually still on holiday, but don’t try robbing my house because Virginia Slims Man is there while I travel all over the eastern half of the country visiting family.

Next year I’m going to eat really healthy and exercise so I can wear a bikini to the beach.

Or maybe I’ll just eat whatever the hell I want, accept my body for what it is and wear something like this.

You’re welcome.