Packing Woes

I know John Denver's Leaving on a Jet Plane is meant to be a sad song, but I admit I find the lines, "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go," strangely satisfying. In fact, I would find the song more heartbreaking if the lover decided to stay because all his packing would have been for naught. Can you imagine him unzipping those bags and stuffing his clothes back into the dresser? That'd be the real tragedy.

I really hate packing.

I'd rather put on clean socks and accidentally step in a puddle of milk on the kitchen floor than pack for a trip. The planning, the finding, the remembering, the folding, the gathering, the tugging before zipping, it's all worse than a mosquito bite on the tip of your elbow.

And then add kids to the mix and it's like stepping in a puddle of milk with a mosquito-bitten elbow while listening to "I'm a Gummy Bear" on repeat.

Part of why I hate packing so much is we have always had the dumbest suitcases. Something

about using a thrift store man bag to pack my clothes does not enthuse me. I finally upgraded not long ago, though. I have this odd pattern of putting off spending money on something for a ridiculous amount of time until I suddenly urgently want to buy the absolute best version of that product. On one trip, I literally packed my stuff in a garbage bag before getting fed up and impulse-buying a Vera Bradley. I have to say, Vera has helped me through my packing woes, but there's only so much she can do.

I should just let my kids pack themselves. My 5-year-old daughter begs me to let her pack her own bags but visions of our SUV drooping under the weight of her stuffed animals, coloring books, Barbies, shoes, and zero outfits despite her wearing at least 4 per day at home, usually discourage me from allowing it.

I mean, to be honest, I don't even like my husband to pack for himself. I think they call that being a control freak or something, but he forgets crazy things every time! Like we'll be going to a wedding and he'll forget dress clothes or to a beach and he'll forget a swimsuit so he'll just have to stay back and nap while I take the kids and...wait a second. I've married an evil genius.

But, really, though. I once asked him to pack a week's worth of clothes for our son on a summer trip and arrived with 2 passable outfits, a pair of pants he'd outgrown, no pajamas or socks, and a sweater. This is the same guy who dressed our newborn in a "I passed my hearing test" hospital onesie and thought I was being silly for insisting the baby change clothes before meeting our friends for the first time. So, am I really a control freak or just--- smart?

Anyways, back to packing. On our most recent trip, I relinquished control for the first time and allowed my children to pack themselves. My 8-year-old son packed like he was running from the F.B.I., ransacking his closet and throwing everything into a backpack in under 4 minutes. My 5-year-old daughter was much more deliberate and thorough though she did get stuck on sorting her stuffed animals into amiable vs. naughty to determine which was well-behaved enough to stay home without her. Let me tell you, I was not thrilled with her packing the naughty's with us.

But, in the end, I couldn't do it. Wondering what on earth they'd deemed worthy of packing was making my eye twitch, so I changed the rules. Instead of packing independently, we turned it into a game of Supermarket Sweep where I shouted out "7 pairs of underwear" and they ran them to me and I counted them before placing them in my ostentatious, fake marble plastic Juicy Couture suitcase (I'm telling you, it's a real problem!).

It was a stroke of brilliance, I must say. In fact, it's probably the first time ever I had been packed earlier than moments before we left. With everything ready to go, I had to wear my 4th of July American flag fingers in a peace sign shirt the rest of the day, but it was worth getting on the road by 8:00 the next morning. Just kidding. It really just gave us a false sense of preparedness and we were as late getting on the road as we always are.


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