Leave for Family Vacation = NASA Launch

For all the time spent planning and anticipating family vacations, you’d think it would be simple to unplug from the routine and hit the road. Not so. 

We can empathize with all those anticipated but delayed space shuttle launches, knowing such exasperation firsthand. Haven’t you threatened to scrub your whole vacation because it’s too much effort to pack and pull away from the driveway?

Is the difficulty in 1) packing like a nomad for a whole family or 2) suspending normal household activities? How do you jump off the merry-go-round for a week? Cancel music lessons, send regrets to birthday parties and reschedule the dental appointments that sounded good six months ago. 

The day before departure, force everyone to eat whatever perishables are in the fridge. Water the plants, board the dog, recheck your packing list.

That evening, stay up all night finishing laundry. Wash the last dish after the very last snack,take the garbage out, and still there will somehow be one banana peel left to rot beneath a garbage can liner.

That’s all before you’ve strapped anyone into a car seat or loaded a DVD. If this is what it takes to get a family of four to a shared overnight destination, it’s truly a wonder that manned space flight ever became a reality. (Here’s a comforting true story: Astronaut Alan Shephard was stuck on the Freedom 7 launching pad for so long he finally just had to pee on himself. There was no urine collection system in his suit, proof of how sorely we needed mom engineers in 1961. Also, it’s a handy story for coping with kids wriggling ”gotta go” between exits).

Let the countdown begin.