Yesterday we returned home from a week at the beach. As my husband drove, I flipped through a magazine and read this snippet from an essay by Lisa Belkin:
"Traveling with children is not always a postcard. There's the getting there, the being there, and the getting back home. This involves planning and patience in quantities unimagined before you started bringing them along."
To which I eloquently say, true dat.
Several days before we left for vacation, I mentioned to my younger two daughters that we'd be leaving for the beach soon. I don't recall why I uttered that thought aloud; they clearly needed no coaxing to be excited for the trip.
In fact, shortly after I spoke the words, I noticed that they both had left the room. Ten minutes later, they still were missing.
Eventually, I found them here:
Perhaps this is why it's inevitable that children, at some point during a vacation, will spontaneously combust into an irrefutably epic melt-down. When their excitement level hovers at 11 out of a scale of 1-10 for days even before the vacation begins, there's no graceful way to downshift without an emotional collapse.
I am proud to report, though, there were just three meltdowns throughout the week among my immediate family. Only one of those meltdowns was mine.
Historically, I fall apart mid-week during a vacation. For several hours I become convinced that I have done nothing right as a mother -- daresay, as a human -- because my children are manifesting behaviors which suggest that they'll grow up to be self-absorbed, ungrateful creatures who never will remember their manners, consider others, appreciate scenery, or eat well-balanced meals.
Then, in the throes of despair, I take a nap that more closely resembles a coma. When I wake, there's a newfound strength and sense of well-being that enables me to continue applying sunscreen and opening juice boxes and shampooing sand out of my children's hair with good humor.
All told, including the hiccups, it was a lovely week, and I'm grateful to have spent it with not only with Joel and the girls, but also my in-laws, two brothers-in-law, and four nieces and nephews. Besides, those brief emotional outbursts -- whether due to excitement, exhaustion, the changed routine, or the sum total of all these parts -- get forgotten in light of the overall picture.
When I think back on these travels, I hope that I'll remember details like how my eight-year-old reacted with an amazed shout when we walked onto the beach the first day and she caught a glimpse of the ocean. Or, how my three-year-old never tires of filling buckets and pouring sand. Or, how my five-year-old hums while she's snorkeling in the kiddie pool so that her voice reverberates upward into the air.
The getting there, the being there, the getting back home: all part of the adventure.
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