|My youngest at Lake Mohawk Beach 2011|
It’s summa’ time! Time for Hawaiian shaved ice and sorbet. (my two favorites) Time to break out the swimsuit and shorts. (or in my case this year, just my capris) Time to keep a stash of cash in your purse for the never-elusive ice cream truck.
But, best of all, it’s time for vacation.
Ahhh, just saying those three precious syllables makes me drool. I don’t know why, really. It’s not like we’ve had a lot of true vacations in the twelve years we’ve been married. And since having kids, a vacation is not really a vacation. It’s more like an adventurous trip where you just spend lots of money to see stuff you haven’t seen before. And the beach? Not...the same...after kids.
I remember pre-kids just lying on my beach towel, with my stereo and a magazine, listening to the waves. I’d close my eyes, soak in the sun, and drift off to sleep. (And with my fair, freckled self; I had the lobster-red sunburn to prove it.)
Now, we tote beach bags, beach umbrellas, coolers, toys, arm-floaties, goggles, nets and beach chairs…and that’s just on the FIRST trip. And by the time we get set-up, take a dip in the water, and dig a bit in the sand, it’s already time to reapply sunscreen and the kids are hot and ornery. The worst is getting up and down from the beach chair chasing after a toddler. (all the while feeling like everyone within a fifty-yard radius is honed in with binoculars on my 'lily-white-not-quite-twenty-anymore' body)
I shouldn’t make it sound that bad. There is something precious about watching your adorable little babies in their swimsuits and sunhats running to the water and giggling every time the foam hits their feet. Those are moments that make all of the chaos well worth the trip.
In fact, looking back, I wonder how my parents made our beach vacations look so easy. Sure, I remember an occasional argument in the car, but for the most part, our vacations were incredible.
How did my parents do it? Was it really that easy for them? How did they make it so perfect?
The truth is, it wasn’t. I didn’t see the behind-the-scene budget meetings where they discussed the nitty-gritty details of the trip. I didn’t have to problem-solve when something unexpected occurred. I was so caught up in the fun of it all that I didn’t have to worry about logistics. I was just along for the ride. My parents did the work-part for us. Sure, they enjoyed it, too. But, after the vacation, we had summer break. They returned to work, hectic schedules and earning a living. They didn’t get a true break. The vacation was still work for them. But, they did it all with a smile on their face just so we could experience something together.
Now that I am a parent, I get it. In fact, I wish I could repay my parents with a true vacation as a way to say, “Thank you. For the vacations. For getaways when you didn’t have the money. For hanging in there when you probably wanted to strangle the three kids in the back seat.”
Just so you know, my husband and I do practice the “tag system” on vacation, to make sure we each get some down time. We give each other time alone on the beach, with no kids, even if it’s just for an hour. Then once your hour is up, “TAG! You’re It!”
But, can I be real? As much as I enjoy the hour alone soaking in the sun, flipping through my magazine and sippin’ on my fruit smoothie (and I do), I cherish the memories with my kids. Their squeal of delight the first time they squish the sand between their toes or watch a crab shuffle across the shoreline. The look on their faces when they glance out over the vastness of God’s amazing, blue ocean. That’s what makes it a vacation.
So, here’s to your summah’ time! Whether you are taking a fancy vacation or a ‘we-ain’t-got-the-money-to-go-away’ stay-cation (which will be us this year), remember to soak in the time with those around you. Because that’s what those getaways truly are for.
|My husband and son at St. Simons Island, Georgia|
|My oldest with a sandy six-pack|