The other night we were taking a walk with the kids – older two on bikes, Mae in the stroller, temperature warm and the breeze balmy – when I had an epiphany: this is an amazing time in life. I voiced this revelation to Marc, and he agreed. “None of them are teenagers yet,” I said, “None of them are newborns. Everybody sleeps through the night, they all still think we’re kind of cool. They’re all cute. This is awesome.” As I watched my older ones pedaling ahead of me and my little one sucking her thumb in the stroller seat I felt content. Right now is pretty fabulous.
We’re leaving for our family vacation to Florida soon and I can’t wait for the warmth and concentrated fun. We’ll pick up Luke from his last day of school and keep on going til we hit the beach. 17 hours of family road trip awesomeness, a week of beachy nothingness, then 17 hours back. To some (maybe most) that sounds equivalent to torture, but I am thrilled. There will be a few hiccups, yes – someone will throw up, or pitch a fit in a restaurant or fall off a bike and cry -or all of the above – but I can deal with that. Getting away together, just us, is worth the headache of packing for a family of five, driving for three days and vacuuming sand out of the minivan for a week. We did this last year – same town in the panhandle, same rented house, same beach – and it was one of our best vacations ever. Not because it was void of problems, but because it was long, it was lazy, and it was time spent together. There’s a commercial Marc and I saw recently on Vimeo that masterfully puts pictures, words and music to the importance of taking a family trip. It’s for a travel company in London, so clearly they have an agenda, but they get it. Those Europeans know the value of a holiday. Here it is. Watch, enjoy, and then keep reading…
“Let this be a lesson.” That wise little boy. “Holidays are the most precious time of all.” Yes, I’m quoting a commercial. But it’s more than that to me. In fact I’m claiming it as my theme commercial for summer. Never had one before, but it’s that good. That’s how much I love it. That’s how much vacations with my family matter to me. Just yesterday Luke asked if I could play a game with him, and I said no, I had to put clothes away and clean the kitchen. It was sad but true. That’s what’s great about being away, or even on a staycation at home. I can play a game. “It’s time you stopped. Switched off. Forgot about time.” Yes, it is. I want to enjoy exactly what’s happening now – my family at this very stage. And though I can do better about that in my every day experience, I can totally rock at it on vacation.
Last night Marc had me read the last chapter of the book he just finished. It’s called The Idle Parent, by Tom Hodgkinson, and from what Marc and the cover of the book say it’s about enjoying being a parent and how it will benefit your kids. I haven’t read it, so I can’t give a review, but here’s the beginning of the last paragraph (sorry if I’m giving anything away):
I am now in the golden age of family life. The baby years are over. No more diapers. Much more
sleep. The children are now three, six and eight. We have a few more years to go before the trials
of teenagers. I have reflected deeply on family life, made many mistakes, and while I am still
confused, I am at least certain that I want to enjoy it…
Sounds familiar. I am at least certain of that, too. I’m so thankful for moments like the one the other night where I am somehow able to mentally step back and see my life. And for a longer, extended pause in time to sit still with my family for a moment. To squish sand between our toes, watch the clouds drift over the ocean, build a sandcastle, play Go Fish and Uno, eat ice cream every single day, go night swimming in the pool, find out our fake Captain-Underpants-determined names. Poopsi Wafflebuns – that was me last year.
The Golden Age is here, and I’m ready to stop, and enjoy, and actually see what’s right in front of me. Let this be a lesson.