It used to be easy to relax. All I needed was to be near a body of water with a towel and my Sony Walkman.

As a mom to three children, this scenario is no longer possible. During a recent trip to the beach a woman actually said to me that I looked like I was pushing a circus cart due to the multitude of bags and other items hanging off my beach buggy.

It seriously took me a half an hour to pack all the food and drinks, a collection that could rival most doomsday prepper’s basement survival stash. Then I had to pack the toys, towels, chairs, sunscreen, and an umbrella into my massive mobile wagon.

In an effort to reclaim some sanity I booked a family vacation to a tropical paradise. I dreamed of this trip while helping my kids with homework, driving them to their various after school activities, and arbitrating the latest disagreement between siblings. Anytime I felt stressed, I would envision myself basking in the sun with my music.

The day arrived. The kids wanted to go to the pool and I was determined to unwind. I grabbed three towels to make sure my chair was properly cushioned. The fact I wouldn’t need to launder it later, made me reach for another one. No laundry for a full week! Oh, the thought brought a smile to my face and caused my hand to extend for yet one more.

The kids ran into the water. I carefully positioned all five towels on the chair. And then the moment was finally here: I laid down, closed my eyes, and inhaled the sweet humid air. The hot sun covered me like a warm blanket.

Then, something was blocking the sun. Was it a cloud? Water drops tapped my arm. Was it rain? No. It wasn’t rain. But it was definitely a storm, some might even liken it to a hurricane. My children were hovering by my side, blocking my sun, and dripping pool water all over me and my five towels.

Panic set in. I thought to myself, “They didn’t last in the pool for long. Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so much time setting up my chair with all those towels. Please don’t ask me to go in the pool. I don’t want to get wet. Please. No.”

My daughters asked in unison, “Mom do you want to ride on The Relaxa 100? You relax on the raft while we push you around!”

I was skeptical. This actually sounded relaxing. But it’s an oxymoron – children and relaxing. I reluctantly agreed. I turned to my husband and said, “Quick, get the camera.” This was an unnatural event occurring and it needed to be captured on film. Sort of like seeing Big Foot or the Loch Ness monster. No one would believe you if you just told them about it.

We posed for a picture by the stairs. Me, sitting uncomfortably on the raft, wondering if I’d fall into the pool, and my darling daughters, smiling and standing on both sides, excited for their upcoming endeavor.

“Mom you have to lie down and relax,” my daughter said.

Succumbing to the instructions, I leaned back against the raft, nervous of what might happen next.

The arguing began immediately.

“No, this way. I want to go this way!”

My older daughter, of course, ignored her little sister, and went in the exact opposite direction. Since she’s stronger, the raft went towards her chosen path. I couldn’t see her face, but I could tell there was a smirk on it.

Louder now and in my ear, “You are going the wrong way!”

“Um. . . this is not relaxing,” I said.

She continued to go the wrong way.

“You need to go over here!” my youngest daughter demanded.

Water splashed in my face as she forcefully attempted to steer the sinking ship…I mean, raft.

“I thought this was called The Relaxa 100, there is nothing relaxing about this!” I said louder.

“We need to show her the other side of the pool.”

“Does it really matter which side we go to? The pool is shaped like a square. Isn’t the definition of a square mean that all sides are the same?” I asked, trying to defuse the situation.

“No, this side is better over here.”

“Whatever, this is boring.” said my older daughter as she swam away.

For maybe one brief, precious minute I actually floated in the pool, sun pouring over me, hearing and feeling a cool breeze. Until, suddenly, the silence was broken with, “Ride’s over!”

My daughter pushed the raft to the stairs with such force I rolled off into the cold water. Where was this massive muscle when her sister was at the helm? Of course I got completely wet – did I really think I’d stay dry in a pool filled with children?

At least I didn’t have to wash all those towels. I thought to myself, searching for the bright side. With a week still ahead of me, maybe just maybe I’d be able to relax, uninterrupted in the sun, for five minutes.

It’s a vacation, right? A mom can dream.