You Say "Vacation.." I Say... "Family Business Trip."
"Mom!... Hey, Mom! Mom, look!"
"Mom. Mom? Moooooom? MOM!"
I waited. I waited and I prayed and I cursed a little. I turned to my husband, sighed and said, "Aren't there enough mothers here to answer that child? Come on!"
We were on the first "vacation" we would take as a family all summer long. And by vacation, I really mean that it was the first four days of the summer that we would find ourselves alone, unfettered and uninterrupted at the family beach house. It was also the last week of August if that gives you any inclination as to how long and how busy and how full of "Hey! Mom! Look!" the rest of our summer had been.
It wasn't really a vacation. Well, not the kind that comes to mind when hearing the word, that is.
Any getaway involving your children is, by no means, a vacation. It's merely a trip you take somewhere else where you're expected to conduct the same daily rituals just with less sleep and none of your usual distractions.
But despite that, it was so much fun and so, so necessary.
I had moments during our time at the beach where I felt like I was seeing our boys for the first time. Discovering things about them that I hadn't noticed before and probably would have never noticed had it not been for our time away.
I was seeing them in a way I hadn't seen them in all summer long. Taller, older. Funnier. Their excitement was palpable and every little thing was SO COOL. MOM!
And if you can believe it, I didn't raise my voice for days. Well, outside of a few necessary moments at the beach house that's also a Don't You Dare Touch Museum. If there's a breakable seashell or vase or candle holder or decorative plate or picture frame to be had on the Eastern Seaboard, you can safely bet that not only do my in-laws have it but they've also decorated with it somewhere right within reach of my 2-year old.
We won't even mention the Swivel Chair of Future Stitches...
But back to what I was saying. It seems funny now to think about but it was as if I blinked and my oldest turned 4. As if I turned my back for a single moment and he grew two inches, tells the funniest stories, has inside jokes between him and his brother and is gearing up to start his second year of preschool in just a few short days. Did you know he was a funny kid? I mean, he was always a little goofy but now he's just downright funny!
And my middle baby! My middle baby who never, ever stops moving. Whose neck is now visible at all times, something that screams to me that any little sign of baby is long gone on his bones. Speaking in full sentences, with a mind of his own and a mission that I may never understand. Ever. Always on a mission.
And to see the two of them together. To watch them seek each other out as brothers and playmates. Sometimes you just need to go somewhere different to see your children differently. To see them more as individuals and less like tiny heathens.
My husband and I even managed to sneak out on one of those elusive things we adults with offspring like to call "Date Nights." We only held each other's hand while crossing the street. We didn't have to worry about anyone running off somewhere dangerous and I didn't have to barter, beg and plead with my husband to finish his dinner. We got to eat everything on our own plates while it was still hot and we never once had to stop talking for the interruption of tiny loud voices.
And most of all, we didn't have to share if we didn't want to.
I saw my husband as just my husband that night. As the man I married nearly seven years ago- the man I fell in love with before careers, mortgages and babies. Funny how one can so easily lose sight of our foundation.
I took pictures. Not great ones by any photographer's standard and not very many at all with my "real" camera. I captured video when I remembered- reminding myself that I should do so because it's only so long before my middle baby starts saying "crabs" instead of "cwabbies," and only so long before my oldest refuses to indulge his Mama while sitting for the infamous Favorite Parts of Vacation Interview. One day maybe I'll splice those pictures and those videos together and maybe even set them to music so we'll have a more concrete recollection of our time together.
But until then, I'll remember the peels of laughter as we sat and strung chicken necks to a line and set them out in the bay to bait crabs. How I loved watching those tiny tanned legs run a mok up and down the beach, daring each time to get a little closer to where the waves crashed into the shoreline. I'll remember how I watched our boys grow by the minute it seemed from the sidelines of the shaded umbrella while bouncing the baby on my knee. I'll remember how each night at bedtime my husband and I tried to make it "a personal best," seeing who could get "their kid" to bed earlier than the other.
Come one, you know you do it too. Summer, thanks for being so sweet to us.
But the next "vacation" we take? I have a feeling we'll be leaving the kids behind for that one...