Vacation is a word that makes me simultaneously giddy with delight and overwhelmed by its importance.
For many years, we spent vacation time on holidays so that we could travel back home to visit our families. This is ironic since we couldn’t wait to move away from home. But we missed our parents and wanted them to be able to spend time with the grandchildren.
Along came Facebook and Skype…we were able to stay connected virtually allowing us to squirrel away small bits of time to consider venturing into the wider world for a long weekend at a time while still making the major holiday pilgrimages home. Over the years, we have lost parents and stopped making the trips to our hometown all together.
There is a sense of being orphaned, untethered. There is also a new profound responsibility of showing our children the world around them. The only way I can convey this strange feeling is relate to the quote about giving your children both roots and wings. It’s like our roots have been dissolved.
Vacations have taken on the transcendent quality of feathers on the wings. I plan these vacations with reverence. How far could we travel in a few hours? What could we do that would keep both of our children (with a seven year age gap) entertained? Could we squeeze in something for Mom and something for Dad. How is it that there is not a single thing we have in common?
Vacation should be a time to relax, explore a new place and grow as a family. Since our family has only one precious week per year, I feel additional pressure to “double dip” by using this time to provide the kids with opportunities I don’t necessarily do the best job of providing at home.
What the heck does that mean? It depends on where my mommy guilt lies from year to year.
This year, for example, I wanted to hit something historically educational that didn’t come from a textbook to support 9’s new interest. She is not an enthusiastic reader, but her art teacher loaned her a book about the founding of our town that really sparked her curiosity after a unit on the community bicentennial. She regaled us with facts about the first church, school and how our house used to be a farm field. She begged to visit a tiny cemetery a few blocks away to see four civil war soldiers graves. Not one to waste such an opportunity, I added to the mental planning list a historical site.
16 has expressed her desire to do some real hiking for several years. Not just walking paved nature reserve trails in our suburbs. She is testing her strength and fortitude as a budding adult in so many ways now. Knowing she will very soon need every ounce, on the list it went.
9 is a very cautious child and misses out on opportunities frequently due to fear. Chance to take a calculated risk went on the list. 16 wanted to explore an area she might be interested living after highschool – on the list. Mom wanted to add a new state to family map-on the list. Dad wanted to spend some time just relaxing- (you guessed it) on the list.
With all this in mind, I set out to execute a vacation that fit as many parameters as possible and stayed in budget and timeline. While this might seem like a herculean task, it brings me more joy than actually going on the trip.
While some people say that returning from vacation gives them the blues, I rejoice in how each vacation changes us and immediately start making a list of what to tackle for next year. Maybe someday the most stressful vacation choice I will have to make will be what beach hotel has the best swim up bar, but for now I am happy to add feathers to wings and pictures to the map.