I don’t know why, but I always freak out a little (okay, a lot) when I have to pack for a trip. It happens much more frequently now that I have children. I suspect the problem is that if I forget something, it’s not just me who suffers, but my kids. It’s always easier to deal with your own mistakes if you’re the only one affected by them; when your kids come up short, that’s when the real guilt kicks in.
Even so, I don’t know why it’s such an issue. It’s not like I’m going to be somewhere without Walmarts and Targets and CVSes. It’s not like I’m going to Zimbabwe for three months. (Actually, I did that once, and I packed a single suitcase and was just fine.) Whatever it is I forgot, even if it’s something relatively crucial like prescription medication or feminine supplies or clean underwear, there will be a store somewhere nearby where I can replace it.
And yet, I freak out.
Maybe it’s because I know that my kids rely on me and I hate to let them down, even temporarily. More likely, it’s because that unexpected trip to Walmart or Target or CVS is not in my plans and therefore puts my planned schedule all out of whack. After all, I don’t generally deal well with last-minute changes of plans. I like structure, and schedules, and advance planning. I don’t like having to carve an extra hour or two out of my schedule so I can go buy toothpaste.
The really weird thing is that I’m such an organized packer that I very rarely forget anything. I save lists after every trip so I can note things I wish I’d brought and things I didn’t need. I check off every item as I pack it, and I highlight things that will need to be packed at the last minute, so I don’t generally forget things.
But still, I worry. What if this is the time I forget something critical? What if we run out of clean clothes? What if I didn’t pack enough underwear for every member of the family? What if someone has to re-wear a pair of socks?!?? OH, THE HORROR!!!! I know that it’s ridiculous, even as I’m doing it. And yet, I freak out.
So what can I do to not freak out so much? I could say that I should make lists, except that I already do that. I could say that I should remind myself that I can buy anything I’m missing wherever I’m going, but I already know that. I could say that my kids would be perfectly content to wear the same articles of clothing for an entire week, but that doesn’t calm me, either.
Maybe I just need to remind myself that it’s not all about me. Maybe I just need to remind myself that what’s important about this trip is having fun, spending time with my family, visiting new places, and exploring somewhere I’ve never been. Maybe I just need to loosen up and relax.
Maybe I just need to check my packing list one last time…