Vacation, all I ever wanted?

For many mothers, summer “vacation” is no holiday. Never is this more true than when she decides to take a trip (yes, a “vacation”), say, for example, to a beach house filled with her own extended family. She is lucky to be there, lucky to have access, lucky to spend time at a scenic waterfront spot. Lucky indeed. So, how can it feel like such drudgery? Is it the endless cycle of changing into swimsuits, applying sunscreen, preparing snacks, dragging chairs, buckets, bags across the sand, supplying drinks of water, supplying clean towels, wiping sand out of eyes, and then cleaning everyone and everything up only to do it all again the next day? Is it the difficulty (exacerbated by the new setting) of keeping track of all the swimsuits, coloring books, hats, sunglasses, and favorite stuffed animals? Is it the exhaustion of letting the kids stay up later than normal, only to have them wake with the sun, ready for another busy day of vacation? Whatever it is, it can leave a modern mother feeling fatigued and, well, in need of a vacation from her vacation. But of course there is no time off from motherhood. Perhaps the modern mother can take solace in the fact that she is not alone, and the U.S. has recently been called “No Vacation Nation” for the paltry vacation time Americans typically receive and take from their paid jobs. Better consolation might be found by curling up with her digital camera after everyone is in bed, and flipping through the photos of the day: frolicking in the surf, sandcastles, learning to body surf. Her children’s happiness in the photos should help put the schlepping in perspective. These luminous and gritty days at the beach are quintessential childhood summer memories.  The modern mother can cling to their brightness and shake off the fatigue as she shakes the sand out of her beach bag.

6 comments:

capabilitymom.com said...

There are family trips and there are vacations - Love this post!

Anonymous said...

What's the point here? Parenting is a choice in life. Seldom do we get our cake & eat it too. The day the last child turns 18 is the start of your vacation. Or get a 2 week nanny!

Elizabeth Hammond Pyle said...

Capability -- Just as there's flying first class and there's flying with children.

Anonymous -- We're right there with you! That's why we're saying count your self lucky, shake off the fatigue and enjoy the memories.

Anonymous said...

The part that struck me is the first sentence, describing vacationing at the home of extended family. We visit my parents home on the Cape, and yes, I'm supposed to feel lucky, lucky, lucky that I have wonderful (free) beach access, a (free) place to stay, etc. Unfortunately my mother is high-strung and she and my father bicker constantly. I could deal with the rest of the details (getting kids in & out of suits, etc.) if only it was a happy house down there, but it's not. Ugh. This is a situation that's not changing. And my kids are their only grandchildren so far, so we're locked into this arrangement. Double ugh.

Anonymous said...

Here I sit on a beach vacation with my extended family. What insight, truth, and beauty you have articulated here.
I am on my way back down to the beach to prep for the afternoon schlep, but this time I will think only of the "luminous and gritty" memories taking root deep in the psyche of a few rowdy boys and their cousins.

Anonymous said...

Love this! Perfectly said.

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