We’ve just spent a few days at a friend’s place in the mountains. Just a few hours away, it was completely different from our parched brown home. Towering aspens rustling outside the window, a strong stream running right outside, we were in a cool, wet and green land where it rained every afternoon.
This turned out to be a mother’s vacation. Instead of frantically running around all day at kid attractions, juggling food, walks, swims, car rides, entertainment so that everyone else has fun! fun! fun! — I got what I needed. This joyful evolution has been taking place over the last year or so: the girls are old enough now that I can set more of the pace.
We took hikes, not without moaning, but with the girls carrying their own water bottles and windbreakers. We all enjoyed half an hour in a bookstore – not one thing was pulled off a shelf and not one voice was raised to distract Mommy from her book. We played games we’d never tried before, spent happy girl-hours in a thrift store, watched more movies that we normally do.
I soaked up the pleasure of someone else’s home, their esthetic choices: clean light wood, blue loungy sofas, books I haven’t read, cozy, bright and most wonderfully – clean! – sheets. I wasn’t too tired at night to get some reading done.
In return, I relaxed more when B regressed back to age 3 to spend five minutes in the public bathroom sink with the soap dispenser and running water. We rode the summer ski lift four times. To ease their boredom with the hike, we created a storytelling game involving a ferocious beast with disgusting body functions and an enslaved princess forced to make him an endless supply of popcorn and pizza while he watched cable.
This is the kind of rhythm I keep hoping we could create for a whole summer. But the house is still not finished; there are still doctors appointments, stacks of bills, flowers to deadhead, squabbles that spring up more insistently when we are at home.
Our last night, we took a walk after dinner to let out some energy. Just wandered up the road and back, with them tumbling through tag, and then more tag, crashing into each other and cracking up, walking along a wall, pulling on shirts, cooing over chipmunks and then coming back to mom as “base”. We went to bed with the stream shushing us to sleep.
I’ve been waiting years for this. Happy sigh.
How have your family vacations changed over the years? How did you survive family trips when the kids were too little and less self-contained? When did it change for you?