Back in January, when the snow was piled up around my knees, I dreamed of summer, and all of the ways I could carefully
control plan memorable vacations for my family. My cousin’s wedding became a trip up the Northeast Coast. Camps were selected and registered for. But what to do with the beloved week that we all spend at my family’s Farm…I know! I’ll change it! We’ll try something new. It doesn’t matter that my husband HATES change, and this is one of the only places he is truly happy. The kids have been asking to go to the beach, and I happen to have a friend with a beach house for rent. I am awesome, right?! Sigh.
I can’t list all of the things that
#$&%$ed up “challenged” this week. But here are a few:
1. We had to take separate cars, because I scheduled rug cleaners for departure day. (It was the perfect time for that, right?)
2. Unusually cold, windy weather due to a Polar Vortex, which is wonderful for people with a circulation disorder who are always freezing.
3. A last-minute business trip that made my husband get up at 3:30 am on the second day and return at 2:00 in the morning.
4. Not having the foresight to bring enough games/toys/entertainment for an 8 yr old boy who didn’t want to read in a family of readers (see: cold weather.)
5. Oh, and did I mention? I hate sand. It turns me into an OCD cleaning freak, especially when I know the homeowner.
Really, the details are pointless. I was in a strange house, in a strange town. I had to arrive with two kids, on my own, get my bearings (not one of my strengths), get food, do housework, parent…In other words, staying in a vacation house as a parent is just taking the show on the road, only I didn’t have my stuff, my resources, or my friends around to help me.
So why, you might ask, did I do this to myself? Because this is not how I vacation. As a SAHM (stay at home Mom – I had to look it up too…) this is my work, and that is OK. I have come to accept that sometimes, someone in the family has to take one for the team in order for everyone else to have a good time. There have been times when we all have gone to a resort or a hotel, and I didn’t have to make a meal or clean up, and I was able to truly unplug during some of that time. And then it was my husband’s turn to be tethered to his work email, or a family crisis, and have his relaxation hijacked. Or the kids fought, or acted like normal kids who needed correction and boundaries, and we both spent energy parenting them instead of “letting go.” You can plan a trip, but you can’t plan when or where these obstacles pop up. That is the bad news. The good news is, I have discovered that we hold the power to take a mini vacation 365 days a year, if we can just learn to ride the wave when it comes.
I’m not just talking about something like meditating. That is certainly one tool that teaches people how to let go and relax. But it is not for everyone. I am talking about doing and Living actively in a way where you enjoy yourself and let go of the stressors of your day, your role and your Life. What we envision a vacation looks like. I am starting to learn that this feeling comes over me from time to time, and if I pay attention, I can see it for what it is: a vacation from being me.
It may come just after a really stressful day, when the kids and I are sitting at a table in a restaraunt, and we all have a favorite book. The sun is starting to set, and one of us takes the first deep breath of the day, setting off a chain reaction. That night the waitress told us thast we could sit there as long as we wanted, and I got through about half of The Hunger Games, and my children didn’t make a peep. Food has never tasted so good.
It may come in the early morning, when I get up before my family to drink coffee before the chaos of school prep starts, or at the end of the day, when I stay up late to read after they have all fallen asleep. I love the feeling of being alone in a house of sleeping people.
It almost always comes the first day of school, when the bus pulls away, and I realize that I now have my days to myself again, and my “Summer of near 24/7” is over.
It may come on a day when I check my iPhone calendar, and I see two beautiful words: No Events. No obligations. No doctors appointments. Just possibility.
I hope my husband finds it doing…whatever it is he likes to do. He has a high stress job, and he tends to unplug by plugging in to YouTube on the weekends, researching things that he enjoys. Maybe burying himself in the details of how stuff works shuts out the noise of his responsibility.
I know I am not alone in my vacation frustration. “Taking the Show on the Road,” is a phrase that my sister and I coined about any trip where you stay in a house with a kitchen. I recently saw a commercial where an airport weary family drags themselves through the hall of a resort. The announcer lists all of the things that have gone wrong, until they walk into their room like it’s the Pearly Gates, and the Dad fist bumps his decision, 1 year prior, to book this trip. That commercial was made for parents like me. It says, “do it anyway, it’s worth it.” Yes, I agree. Even when it is a bad week, I still think it is worth it to plan ahead and book trips to make memories with your family. Just don’t kid yourself that it is the only way you get a vacation.