There comes a time in every mom’s life where she’s forced with the decision to leave her family and join monastic life, or go on vacation with them.
(just a side note to let you know that a monastery won’t take you if you have kids and a husband. I’ve asked)
Anyway, as we slow-roll into summer I’d like to remind you that vacations can happen and as a mom, you’re obligated to attend most of them. By “most of them” I mean “all of them.”
Here is a list of what’s wrong with family vacations:
- Vacations are a lot of work.
That’s the list.
Sure, you probably don’t have to cook. But you do have to do laundry. If you don’t do laundry at the hotel laundromat, your relative/friend’s home, or hand-wash it in the creek by your tent, you will have laundry when you get back home. So, instead of being buried by piles of laundry from the comfort of your own home, you are buried with thoughts of impending laundry doom as you fill up garbage bag after garbage of laundry that travels with you on its own vacation.
It’s the best of times.
It’s the worst of times.
While you stand in the midst of total chaos that is the total opposite of routine and you endure battles with overtired kids, we have all asked ourselves why?
Why do I keep doing this?
Well, I sure don’t know.
I’m by nature a total homebody. I don’t even like to go to the grocery store, so I am probably the very worst person to ask this question. I’m always up for vacation until it’s time to start packing for said vacation. Then, I suddenly find myself full of dread for the entire process and am longing to be back home an entire day before we’ve even left.
Will that ever change? Probably not. But, I’m many years away from having no one who cares about vacation. So, until everyone moves out, it is what it is. Like all things in life, it’s about perspective. I may never like to go camping, but I am in a season of life where my kids love to go, so I have to find the right perspective or everyone has an amazing time but me. Wishing away days of vacation is not really a great way to spend a vacation.
I’ve done it.
More times than I care to admit.
So, in the spirit of perspective, I can tell you that it is vacation where you find the quiet moments much easier than in the midst of routine and schedules. Maybe they are just literal moments, but they’re there. And they aren’t moments you can find on the way to soccer or in the pickup line at school. If you look for them, if you watch your children, you’ll see their moments.
Which become yours too.
At the end of the trip, when I’m exhausted and we are finally home and I’m locked in a bathroom with a bag of snack-sized Twix and silence because there is such a thing as too much time with your family — the crazy parts fade. Like they do with the other less glamorous side of life.
They fade until you’re left with the good parts.
The sentimentality of the things your children enjoyed.
The things you can’t have back.
So, you gather what joy from it you can, and you hide it away for a day when everything is hard and you want to burn it all down.
In six months when the snow starts to fall you’ll remember the warmth of summer and the best parts of that vacation. You’ll laugh at how insanely hot it was in Southern Nevada. It wasn’t funny when you were actually in Southern Nevada, but it’s funny now because you aren’t in Southern Nevada, and it’s snowing.
That will trigger other memories about the squirrel who sat next to the man on the bench on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, or the elk who ate out of a neighboring camper’s hand. Maybe the memories are about Dad going for a bike ride using a 10-year-old’s bike. It could be as simple as everyone piling in a pontoon to swim in the frigid waters of Lake Mead. Only Lake Mead could offer waters too cold to swim in when it’s 120 degrees outside.
Every year vacation will get a little easier because everyone gets a little older.
A little less needy.
A little less dependent.
Someday, everyone will be sitting around the campfire, or the pool, or the beach.
They will get their own towels.
They won’t need help swimming.
They will make their own snacks.
There will be no more sandcastles.
No more dirty little toes to wash before bed.
No more Popscicles on the dock by the lake on a hot and humid July afternoon.
So, wherever you destination this year, even if it’s just to the local pool. Enjoy the moments while you have them.
Because someday your life will be so quiet, it might as well be monastic life.