There and Back Again: A Beach Tale

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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  1. It's amazing to me how often your posts affirm me as a normal mom instead of making me feel like a horrendous failure. Thanks for that. And, welcome home.

  2. Love this!! "True dat," indeed! We, too, just returned yesterday from a week at the beach with my hubs' family!! While there, my brother in law and his wife announced that they are expecting thier first child in January. My hubby and I got quite a laugh reminiscing about how different things would be for them next summer and how far we've come from those baby days. He kept saying, "It's finally getting easier every year." EasiER mind you - not EASY! :-)

  3. Congrats to your brother-in-law and his wife! Yes, a baby changes everything...

    I love your capital letters: easiER, not EASY. Indeed!

  4. If my words can make others feel normal and reaffirmed instead of feeling like a horrendous failure, that absolutely makes my day. Meltdowns are valuable that way! :)

  5. You mean your kids display: '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?"

    YAY! I'm not alone! Gotta love those moments when you realize that almost every mother has the same doubts as you.

    Naps are the best medication for times like these.

    Lovely photos!

  6. So Beautiful Robin! What a Wonderful trip to the beach with such memories! True dat! : )

  7. Sara the trying hard mommaJuly 02, 2013

    Loved this! Getting ready to go on our summer vacation with my family which includes my four children( ages 2, 6,8, 14) and my three brothers and their families ( 12 kids in total) and my mom. It is a twelve hr car trip not including stops, and my husband can't make it this year because of work. We always have a blast, but I am already starting to twitch at this daunting prospect that lies before me! Your post makes me feel normal, not like the worst mom ever! Thank you does not suffice ;)

  8. Can I just mention that I consider you a rock star? Twelve kids total? Four kids in the car with you during a 12 hour road trip? Lesser women would crack under the pressure!
    I hope you have safe, peaceful travels!

  9. Jen, I'm pretty sure that if it weren't for the moments when I realize that almost every mom has the same doubts I face, I wouldn't keep going! Thank God for transparent community!


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