The Vacation That Wasn't

In this week?s episode, the Mental Health Mamas follow up on their recent travel episode to share about their personal experiences while traveling over the break. Tune in to hear Tina and Serena chat about expectations vs reality and share the good, the bad, and the smelly of The Vacation That Wasn?t.

Notes and Mentions

The Expectations vs Reality Trap from

Like us on Facebook!
Find us on Instagram @noneedtoexplainpodcast
Follow us on Twitter @mhmamas
We love to hear from you! Email us:


Tina: Hey everyone, I'm Tina

Serena: And I'm Serena, and we are the Mental Health Mamas.


Tina: Welcome to No Need to Explain. We are so glad you're here.

Serena: First as always a quick disclaimer.

Tina: We come to you not as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as parents with lived experience who are on a mission to normalize the conversation around mental health.

Serena: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You'll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website

Tina: So right before the holiday break for schools a few weeks ago, we dropped an episode about the challenges of travel 

Serena: We did. And while we hope that we're putting things out there to the world that is useful to others, the thing we don't often talk about is how useful doing this is for us.

Tina: Yes, a little therapy for us, right? So we often pick topics that resonate personally with us as you might have guessed. Serena and I were both, you guessed it, traveling over the break.

Serena: And everything went perfectly.

Tina: No, no, not for me, and I'm pretty sure it didn't happen for you either.

Serena: Yeah, no. And what I want to do with today's episode is provide some validation for anyone else out there who did not have the most magical experience. And I would say that based on what I see in my social media feeds, Tina, you and I are not alone in this.

Tina: Definitely not alone. So for anyone out there who's travel or holiday times spent with your family did not meet your expectations. We are here to tell you that we see you and that you are allowed to feel all the feels right here with us.

Serena: That's right. And I think we have such big expectations about what the holidays are going to look like and reality rarely compares. There's a great article on that talks about this very thing and it's called the Expectations Versus Reality Trap. The article explains it like this, ?Expectations are what we think will happen while reality is what actually transpires. While we hope these two will match up, they often don't. This disparity of expectations versus reality can often lead to feelings of discontentment and unhappiness.?

Tina: So in our travel episode, we talked about managing our expectations, but I'm not sure that we really talked about how to manage those expectations, right?

Serena: No I don't think we did. So, you know, I suggest this article there?s a lot of great ideas in it but one of the suggestions I'll share with you is to simply be aware of your expectations. It sounds so simple, but I think that especially around the holidays, we have this picture in our mind of what we think it's supposed to be like, what's going to be sort of the perfect holiday. So taking the time to acknowledge what that picture is, what we're imagining and, you know, is it reasonable, that expectation? And if it's not, we might be setting ourselves up for some disappointment.

Tina: Yeah, that makes a ton of sense and we have experienced travel before that we could reflect on, right?

Serena: Right.

Tina: And I'm just going to say one thing here, Serena. Our audience will hear us laugh a lot in this episode and what you won't hear is all the crying that happened before this episode.

Serena: Yeah we got that over with and now we're? 

Tina: Or the incessant texting that you and I did the whole time.

Serena: Right, right.

Tina: So anyway. So another suggestion is to not make comparisons to others and our brain totally goes there, right? It is so hard. So hard when everyone posts their beautiful pictures on social media and, you know, we all do this because we want to embrace those happy moments and it can be really hard to share our vulnerability with the world. So let's just put it out there. Let's talk a little bit about our travels, what they were like, and then we'll circle back to this idea. So buckle your seatbelts, everyone. Serena, tell us about your perfect trip. Another Wardventure? 

Serena: Oh yeah, one for the books. I was telling another friend about everything that happened and she said, well, that's just how you celebrate as a family, right? 

Tina: And she's not wrong, is she?

Serena: She is not. Like every time. 

Tina: It?s nice when people know you.

Serena: Yes, I know. I know. So this trip was mainly to visit my oldest in Florida and bring her things, bring her her things that we still had at our house and her cat since she's now living on her own in an apartment and working full time. So my other two kids were not looking forward to the multi-day drive, but they were excited to see their big sister. So here's some of the ugly highlights. I won't tell them all, but this will be enough.

Tina: It will be enough.

Serena: Yeah, so the drive down to Florida was pretty dicey for about the first day and a half, which, so for anybody in the Northeast and even like beyond that, it was a strange cold snap, right? And so I think, you know, people know what I'm talking about here. It's always a risk, but we hit snow and ice and then torrential downpours and the wind, right? So much so that all the things we covered in the back of the truck, they started to get wet, even though they had several layers of covering over them. But we did, we made it to my daughter's brand new apartment, which really is an old motel that has been refurbished. So it's not so brand new and discovered that she did not have a working toilet.

Tina: Oh my gosh.

Serena: And it had been that way for some time. So the smell. I will leave it to your imagination, but it was not good.

Tina: I can only imagine. And yes, I'm putting a nose clip on right now. 

Serena: Yes. So then the day after we had a lovely Christmas, but the day after Christmas, my eight year old spiked a high fever and was having trouble breathing. And of course, she was panicking too, right? 

Tina: Of course. Yes.

Serena: When we have, you know, having trouble breathing and you panic and make it worse and she was like, why is this happening to me? She was really upset. I don?t think she had ever experienced that before. I still remember being about her age and having that happen. So she and I sat in the hotel room for the whole day, right? Hoping that it would pass. She watched back to back Bluey?s non stop, which is very funny because it's like kind of a young kids program and I think it must have been comforting to her. But eventually we did decide that we needed to take her somewhere and we thought it was going to be fairly straightforward right there's that expectation again, but we actually ended up waiting six hours to be seen and urgent care. And of course, on top of the fever and the breathing issues, there was puking.

Tina: Of course there was puking.

Serena: There?s always, always puking. Occasionally we have an episode where I don?t mention it.

Tina: Well, yeah. And it's pretty constant.

Serena: It?s our day.

Tina: It?s the thing we can count on. 

Serena: Right. Yes, and then the days that followed involved all these endless negotiations to get her to take her medicine, which I won't get into, but I will say that it like sucked up our time it was like several hours a day trying to get a few doses down her that wouldn't come back up again. So yeah, great trip.

Tina: The best! That sounds like the best. 

Serena: Yeah. Oh yes. Okay. So I forgot to mention the toilet did get fixed, but it took three guys about six hours and that fun smell took over the entire apartment complex so yeah. Merry Christmas.

Tina: Yeah, exactly, right?

Serena: So what about your Tina? Tell us about your perfect holiday.

Tina: Okay. Well, we had no puking, which was good. 

Serena: Good, good.

Tina: Okay. Let's just check that box. Good thing. Okay. So we drove 10 hours, we drove a day early, which was unexpected again because of the weather. Now that I live in Virginia, you know, I don't drive through snow or ice and so I?m like it's going to be really windy and rainy. We need to get?I don't know. Everything's about perspective. Right. So anyway, we took our two dogs. And if you have ever traveled with dogs before, especially dogs that get anxious when you travel, there is terrible breath in the car. And their bodies like sweat and it's stinky like it's, yeah, it's pretty repugnant. Anyway, so the positive is I looked back to last year when we had a dog get sick twice in the back.

So again, I will check no puking or pooping there. That's a good checkbox. So, so that's something. But seriously, Christmas for me, Serena knows this I'm like a total elf Santa person like, Santa!

Christmas is always so magical. I love it. It's just all the buildup the hype, the shopping, the special gifts. And I really enjoy all of that. I have very, very high expectations every year. And then we are hit with the reality of COVID. COVID exposures and infections managing anxiety over exposures and infections. Opening gifts over zoom and let's just say I did not take very many selfies with my son in the parking lot of his apartment complex. While we were all masked and we were delivering food and gifts to him every day. It's just ugh.

Serena: Yeah, that's really what I've been seeing, you know, on social media, is that COVID hit a lot of people. For the first time maybe or you know again and in some ways it feels worse than it did a couple of Christmas's ago where the again that expectation right was that for most of us was that we weren't going to see our families we weren't going to be traveling. And so now, you know, we're ready to go and feel feel safer right and go see our families and we're still getting hit by COVID. 

Tina: Yeah, yeah, not good. No, it's not not my idyllic magical Christmas trip. 

Serena: No, no. Yeah, so backing up to the idea of what we do and don't share on social media. So, you know, I admit that I did not take any pictures of all of the fun I just described. There are no pictures of the broken toilet, the sick kid, all of our hours spent at urgent care, the scary car ride. So even if I wanted to share these things, there's no actual photographic evidence. Did you take pictures of any of those things, Tina, any of your fun things?

Tina: No, no dog breath, no masks. Nope, not not a one. 

Serena: Yeah, I wonder a little bit about, you know, maybe maybe trying to capture some of those moments and maybe we can all shift social media in a way, although nobody wants to see the toilet.

Tina: Well, nobody wants to smell the toilet. Maybe they don't mind seeing the toilets. I'm not sure. 

Serena: But in the midst of all that there had to have been good moments too, right? 

Tina: There were definitely good moments that I really tried to focus on that and I will share that one of the good moments was that I think when there's stress in our family. I tend to get irritated and then I'm sniping at people and especially my husband because he's like my person, right? So it's easy because I know he'll always forgive me and that didn't happen this year instead. We really bonded and in fact, one day we even got in the car in the midst of all this and we drove. We took a drive, which we had just taken a ten hour drive, but we drove through the mountains and had lunch at a place. It was just a really nice like we totally bonded over that.

So I think that was super helpful and yeah, I think sometimes it can be really helpful to look for those moments in the midst of whatever's going awry. It can really help us enjoy some of the experiences and help us focus on what's really important. 

Serena: So say some more about that like what are the what were those things that were important moments from your trip.

Tina: Yeah, so I love spending time with my family. I got to see everyone, even though it was in fits and starts, right, I did not see everyone together. We celebrated a wonderful milestone birthday for my Christmas baby niece who is now 30.

And I did take three pictures. I took one of my grand dog Maisie and yes, I have a grand dog and I love her. She was opening her Christmas gift with exuberance and it was just so cute. Her head was like totally in the bag. It was so cute.

And then one of my husband who was totally horizontal on my mom's couch with three dogs and not only was it beautiful because he does not rest very often, but to see the three dogs kind of peacefully coexisting was a moment of goodness.

So the third was actually when I got home and it was something I could appreciate after all the kind of wild nature of our travel. I woke up one morning and it was New Year's morning and there was this fog and the sun was rising and it was just like the most peaceful.

You know I sometimes try to enjoy that and I'm like, no, I have to capture that because that is just I want to see that again and again. It's kind of how I feel when I go to the ocean, right.

That?s what I want to do so? So what about you Serena. 

Serena: Yeah, so I'm pretty sure we drove home through that fog. Which was not so much. Yeah, but in all seriousness, there were actually a lot of really nice moments in the midst of everything. So as I mentioned, we got to visit a bit with with our oldest and get her kitty to her who she'd been missing. And we bought her a bed, so she doesn't have to sleep on the floor anymore. When my youngest was not feeling well. Maybe this is going to sound strange, but there was a lot of time of just being. So, you know, I mentioned she was just watching TV nonstop because she's just, you know, kind of out of it. And I had an audio book on my phone. So it's just, you know, sitting next to her, snuggling with her and listening to my book and I just think it's not something that happens very often in our busy lives. There was nowhere we needed to go, nothing we needed to do, she just needed to feel better. So.

Yeah, so we skipped a lot of the things we wanted to do and had planned to do, but we did manage to get to the beach. Like you, Tina always feels very renewing to me. And on the beach. We actually, we found literally hundreds of sand dollars and that did feel really magical. I've never seen that before. And then we got to see my parents for an abbreviated visit on our way home and they have a new puppy, which is one of my favorite things. So, you know, I can't say the trip was relaxing in any way, but it did fill my bucket in many ways if that. If that makes sense.

Tina: Yes, and you do love puppies, which is amazing. So, and so let's circle back to expectations. I love the idea of just being right. I think our worlds are so busy. The idea of just being is not a concept that many of us embrace regularly and it doesn't have to be all fancy meditation style. It just could be anything right just taking a moment to breathe and focusing on that here and now.

And I'm going to give you permission, writing a permission slip for you, take a break from the socials, the Facebook as my brother calls it who's not on Facebook. Instagram, they will not miss you. It will be fine.

And in fact, I think it's pretty common now to see people who say, just want to let you know, taking a month break. This is not for me right now. I'm not doing it. And I love that. I love that.

Serena: Yeah, that's a great point. Yeah, so we say this a lot, but we love hearing from our listeners. So we want to hear your stories, your stories of travel, the holidays, maybe, you know, they didn't meet your expectations or maybe they did. We want to hear that because we haven?t experienced that. So please tell us!

Tina: Yeah so you can now unbuckle your seatbelts because we are almost through. And I just want to say the idea of you telling us your stories. We started this episode by saying that these things personally resonate with us. And we put a lot of ourselves out there. Like we just did today, probably way more than you needed. But here it is. Here we are. This is it. And I want you to help us normalize like help us, please feel like we're not alone.

Serena: Please! Yeah. And so podcast friends, we are as always grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leave us a review while you're there, subscribe while you're there. Then you?ll have the episodes ready to go wherever you are, whatever you're doing, share it with others. You will find more content on our website, You can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or don't if you're taking that break from social media or call us. Sometimes It's the easiest way to to share your story. We have a voicemail number which you will find in our notes and you can leave us a voicemail. 

Tina: Yes. And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.

Serena: Thanks for listening. 

Tina: Bye.