Va­ca­tion house too small to fit all

The News & Observer (Sunday) - - Weather - BY CAROLYN HAX

Dear Carolyn:

Af­ter sav­ing up for decades, my hus­band and I were able to buy a small va­ca­tion house. The house can com­fort­ably sleep six peo­ple, give or take some shared beds.

We have two young adult kids, and my hus­band has a daugh­ter from a pre­vi­ous mar­riage. “Lily” is mar­ried and has three small chil­dren and is ex­pect­ing a fourth. We have tried to do an all-fam­ily va­ca­tion, and it just didn’t work. Lily & co. crammed into one bed­room but were un­com­fort­able, so my daugh­ter had to give up her bed­room and sleep on the couch. It made a po­ten­tially lovely va­ca­tion very un­com­fort­able.

We are try­ing to plan our sum­mer va­ca­tion. I would like my kids to be able to come and stay in the home, but I don’t think it makes sense for Lily & co. to come. Nor do I want to have to forgo a fun va­ca­tion with my kids for fear of mak­ing Lily feel ex­cluded — which is of­ten a thing with her.

I need help with this. I want to en­joy the house without con­stant feel­ings of guilt. Any ideas?

— Anony­mous

I’m with you, a pox on Lily and her too-many chil­dren for mak­ing “my” child sleep on a couch!

You as­signed five (of

“his”) peo­ple to one bed­room so one (of “yours”) could have a bed­room to her­self, and now im­ply it’s Lily’s fault that didn’t work? This is the type of rea­son­ing that en­riches the emo­tional soil from which one even­tu­ally har­vests “a thing.”

Lily “& co.” wouldn’t feel ex­cluded, they would be ex­cluded. And to feel ex­cluded when ex­cluded is not “a thing,” but in­stead a nor­mal emo­tional re­sponse.

Guilt is also a nor­mal emo­tional re­sponse, to do­ing some­thing you know is self-in­ter­ested and un­kind.

Your Lily dis­dain is ob­vi­ous. Rein it in.

Here’s the en­tirety of your prob­lem: Your house is too small to fit ev­ery­one com­fort­ably.

So, with in­clu­sion in mind in­vite your whole fam­ily to weigh in on this com­mon square-footage prob­lem. “Hi every­body, look­ing for­ward to an­other all­fam­ily va­ca­tion. Ob­vi­ously we don’t fit in the house com­fort­ably; any ideas for this year?”

Some fam­i­lies ul­ti­mately agree to pile in un­com­fort­ably, de­cid­ing to­geth­er­ness is worth it; some book an­other home or ho­tel rooms nearby for spillover guests; some stag­ger their stays; some pitch tents in the yard. You and your hus­band can even be the ones to sleep off-site. Cre­ativ­ity counts.

That’s be­cause where you fit ev­ery­one is less im­por­tant than your in­ten­tion, ea­ger­ness, de­ter­mi­na­tion to wel­come ev­ery­one who can come. Send that mes­sage; see what the uni­verse says in re­sponse.

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