“Summer vacation rocks!” – Younger Son, July 16, 2011
Why is vacation so awesome, and the rest of life so…not quite? I’d be really good at living a life of ease. I wait all year for one week: Maine vacation. ALL YEAR! When I said that to my husband he said “Really? Don’t you look forward to anything else?” I guess there are some things, but nothing comes close to vacation.
And then it comes and goes in a blink of an eye – I can’t believe it’s over already. Really over? I’m home, back at work? And I have to wait a-whole-nother year for my next one? (Sad face.) I could get even sadder if I stopped to count how many vacation weeks I have before my children grow up and don’t want to come anymore. But I’m still in my happy place.
How do I love vacation, let me count the ways. For one thing, you don’t have to deal with the annoying minutiae of daily life. On the drive home from paradise we started discussing the coming week, all the 100 details waiting to be figured out (on top of all the usual stuff, you know, cooking and cleaning and working and raising kids and so on). Rotate the tires, fill out the insurance paperwork, remember to fast after 7:30 because you have to run in and get blood drawn before you go back to work, pick up the summer reading book and homework, schedule the kids’ dentist appointments, aaaauuuuuuugh I wanna go back!
Who doesn’t want to escape from all that nonsense? And that’s just a normal week. My biggest concern on vacation was remembering to pick up fresh ice and milk at the end of the day. That much planning, I can handle. The rest of the week was do-what-you-feel at all times. It was soooooo nice.
On vacation, we are beholden to no one. Dave felt bad that we didn’t socialize with the campers next to us, who kindly invited us to sit by the campfire. I told him to blame me for being the completely anti-social one but, my life is busy enough. I care for eight children every day, and socialize with all their parents. I visit with neighbors and other parents on the school playground. I’m in contact with other providers and early childhood people on a daily basis. After school and work there are sports, where we’re socializing and visiting. We have big families and we’re always on the go, visiting someone here or there.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this life and I’m so grateful for the community we live in. But on my vacation, the one week I have to let it all go, why in God’s name would I want to sit next to complete strangers and try to make small talk?
Then of course there’s being away from the TV. Not having that box making noise at you all day is a beautiful thing. Well, the kids get their DVD player in the car, but we wouldn’t make it all the way to Maine without that. Plus they seem a little happier with some time away from us with earphones on their heads. And we get to have a grownup conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching now and then as much as anybody else, but as the media becomes ever more pervasive it is truly liberating to put myself out of its reach for a little while. (No cell phone service at the campground either, and that’s really OK.)
AND – yes – it’s hard to believe but I’m going to include this on my list: no computer. I love my laptop as much as I love air but I chose not to bring it – and barely missed it. Except when I needed the weather report, and then I just walked up to the camp store and asked the lady. Revolutionary.
I’m also somebody who truly loves to be with my kids, and they are the perfect ages for fun. They’re old enough to get showered and dressed by themselves and to help around the campsite. But they still want to hang out with us and play catch and jarts and bocce and wiffle ball. They love to steal change out of the dashboard for candy at the camp store. And then they beg all day for the pool, and want us to watch every jump and dive and slide. And I love to indulge every whim. OK I’ll admit it: I just like to play too.
The days are easy and relaxed. When we’re hungry, we eat. When we’re bored, we go for a drive and look at the scenery. We go to all the traditional places we love to visit every year. As the boys get older, we can explore and do more things that we couldn’t when they were younger. We went double-kayaking for the first time this year and found a hidden spot for a picnic and a swim. We lie around on blankets in the afternoon sun and make each other laugh with stupid jokes. We go into town for ice cream at night. And just because we felt like it, we saw Harry Potter twice.
Now if I just didn’t have to worry about where the money was coming from. I’d be living out of the car, traveling the country with my boys. At least until, instead of the change, they ask me for the keys and to please be so kind as to get out so they can be free of me.
I know these years are fleeting. This naturally comes from being a mom and watching the time fly by, but I think it’s compounded by my job. My little toddler who’s now walking and talking was in a baby swing just yesterday, puking on my shirt and requiring 27 diaper changes per day. Soon she’ll be leaving me for kindergarten. Blink.
So I savor every moment and even though I was consciously savoring every moment on this trip, it still seems far away already. I will content myself for the rest of the year to be as present with the boys as I can and try to remember all the hilarious, silly, obnoxious, outrageous things they do. I’ll carry the smoothest stone on the beach in my purse and when I come across it, I’ll remember the day I picked it up. I’ll try to break away from the daily chaos and have a few quiet moments with the kids – a bike ride or a game that doesn’t require a remote. And I will patiently wait for next year’s week off.