I’ve talked many times how important vacations are for me. How revitalizing the salt and sand from the beach are and how the vastness of the ocean always seems to jumpstart my faith and realization of the world’s beauty.
My entire life I have gone on vacations. As a child, we would go camping, we would rent a tiny house by the Jersey Shore every summer, we would go visit Grandma and Pop Pop in Florida every year.
After my first baby was born, we went on our normal Jersey Shore vacation when he was 2 months old. I was so looking forward to some time on the beach, crabbing at the bay, walking at Seaside to get all that delicious food. I packed 3 books since vacation was usually the only time I opened a novel.
None of that happened. In fact, I went home just as pasty white as I had come and I’m not sure I ever pulled my books out of my suitcase. For anyone that knew my first born, he did not nap without me, and he also woke up every 2 hours to nurse for the first year. He was not happy just sitting in your lap or lying on the ground…you had to be up holding him and bouncing or walking around constantly until he learned how to move on his own. Needless to say, my vacation expectations did not get met.
I didn’t give up. Every year I have gone on a minimum of 1 vacation if not more..sometimes dragging 3 kids while being 8 months pregnant onto an airplane landing at midnight alone just to make sure I got to the beach. That one ended up with me losing half of my peripheral vision temporarily due to an atypical migraine. But it also ended up being one of my most memorable vacations since having kids.
So once again, a few days ago, my husband and I packed four kids into the car, along with all our luggage, and set out in the middle of the night for the 20 hour trek to the Keys. Yup..20 hours. Are we crazy? A little.
Though we heard “When will we be there?” a few times, the kids actually did amazing. 5 minutes after getting onto the interstate, Sam had to pee. All we could do was laugh. While on vacation, I’ve tried listening to an audio book multiple times only to get interrupted after 2 minutes into it. I’ve been followed most the time by my 2 year old, Charlie asking for milk, peanut butter jelly, his “swim soup”…and when I go down for a relaxing swim, I am getting splashed and having to lift Charlie onto the wall over and over and over and over for more “cannon balls”. I dealt with sad 7 year old girl that says Charlie hogs me and takes all my time, so we had to go on a special girl walk. I’ve put on sunblock countless number of times, fighting the kids to put it on each time, then listening to them whine and cry when their cheeks are scorched and stinging.
But I love it. When you have kids, you have to switch your mindset of vacation. The goal of vacation is now to watch them enjoy it..watch them make memories. And when you look at it that away, it WILL make you smile. My son had his 10th birthday party here. My daughter learned how to swim by herself and under water. My 4 year old who has this special connection with his Great Grandma, Gigi, gets to spend the week with her. My 2 year old pooped on the potty for the first time and learned how to swim with a floaty by himself. We took the kids out on paddle boards for the first time. We got to go out in the middle of the night tracking turtle nests.
So when my 10 year old went to bed in tears last night saying “This is the worst vacation ever!”, I smiled and sat down with him, remembering him saying yesterday “This is the best day ever.” I explained to him all vacations were going to be a little stressful and have things go wrong, but if you focus on all the amazing things that happen and the memories you are making, it is worth it.
I love having the time to focus on the family and not have to worry about cleaning the house, running errands, getting ready for work and the sitters. I love that we can swim for hours, stay up late playing with cousins, look for shells and sharks teeth. And the older the kids get, the more I see them making the memories I still am so fond of from my trips as a kid.
As I am looking over the ocean, listening to the waves, writing my blog, and getting ready to sip my coffee…my 4 year old comes down and says my 2 year old is crying for me. And I smile. This is the life.