I really struggle with vacationing well. Do you know what I mean when I say that? What I mean is that some people are just natural born vacationers. When they get to their destination they just seem to release. On a deep exhale their hair unravels, a mojito falls into their hand, and they simply exist. They relax. They know exactly what they want to do and somehow find a way to do it. Or they don’t do it. Life is their oyster, or whatever that expression is. Well, I want an oyster, damnit.
We’re currently on vacation in the Outterbanks of North Carolina in a small fishing, beach, and tourist town this week. It’s one of my most favorite places in the world. Granted, I haven’t actually been to that many places in the world, but I love it. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. But what I remember the most as a kid is that vacationing is so much easier when you are 11. Part of what I struggle with as an adult is actually growing up and realizing that life wasn’t actually better when I was a child, it’s just that I was a child. I ate Doritos that my parents paid for and crisped in the sun and salty waves all day. Well, now I can’t seem to let go. To just be. I’m always thinking that I’m wasting my precious vacationing time and should be out taking advantage of the day: spending more time at the beach, taking more naps, doing more biking, seeing more sights, playing more games, making more memories, reading more fiction, and it gets quite exhausting being so anxious about relaxing.
But I’m sure you can relate. Even now, we’ve been here less than 48 hours and I’ve already snapped at my kids and Jason more times than I’d like to admit because they just aren’t being relaxing enough. How sweet of me. Though, it is funny and hopeful for me. No vacation has ever been enough. I know that when I leave later this week that it will have not been relaxing or long enough. That there wouldn’t have been enough time enjoying my children or touching my husband (because one of my goals this week is to touch my husband as much as I can. Oh, I’m going to be romantic with 3 kids around. Don’t you worry!). I can only just stop and tell myself that this is enough. That even though we didn’t make it to the beach yet today and have only sat in the driveway eating Doritos and riding bikes, it’s enough. And it is good. That’s the kind of grace that helps me to rest and vacation well enough.
Around here it’s summer time. The boys are out of school, which means that there are random toys, cups, and clothes laying all over the house that they’ve left in a trail of storm-like debris. Most of this debris ends up in Ruby’s mouth before we can get it to it’s proper spot for cleaning or storage. All last week I packed the kids up every morning and took them with me to The Camp, a huge program that my church provides for a public housing community here in our city. (I’ll be writing about that separately later this week). It’s a huge undertaking for everyone who participates. Everyone ends the week a little sunburned and a lot exhausted. Me and the kids were tired to the point of tears come Friday morning. Their little legs and my two auto-immune diseases were physically rejecting another day of Zumba and Aikido. Despite our exhaustion we all had a great time and have a deeper love for the people in our city.
For the holiday weekend we did something that we’ve never done before and chose not to celebrate. We stayed home all three days of the long weekend resting, doing some yard work, watching TV, driving each other a little nuts, and watched our neighbor’s illegal fireworks from the treehouse. Jason and I both felt a brief pang of guilt that we didn’t plan some memorable and festive experience for our kids by inviting friends and neighbors over to eat and blow up some cash, I mean fireworks, or at least take them to a firework show. But we quickly brushed off that guilt. Not every holiday, birthday, or event needs to be marked with forced sentiment and disposable income, which we don’t have much of these days anyways since I’m not working. I’ve been struggling to find time to write since the boys are home from school and it starts to eat at me. I find that I get eager and grumpy when I haven’t written or read for a few days. Silence, alone time, and privacy are precious commodities around here. All of which I guard and highly prize. All of which come rarely and briefly. All of which I try to cultivate when I can and embrace when it comes. Even and especially at the expense of keeping a tidy house and clean children.
This is summer. We keep late hours. Make no plans. Keep expectations low. Find ways to save money to keep the air conditioner running. And watch lots and lots of cartoons.
The boys were home on spring break last week, which means a lot of things around here. Mostly that I had to balance work, family and children all in 24 measly hours a day. And balance is a terrible word. I did not balance. It’s more like I tried to balance and things fell off the scale, as physics would have it. So, I did what I could and tried not to end up a heap of tears, guilt and anxiety by the week’s end. That also did not work out so well. But again, we mustered on and once I gave up on balancing and instead prioritized and let the not-so-important things go, we all fared much better. On one bright day, I packed up the children and went to Colonial Williamsburg to spend the entire day with friends who I don’t get to see near enough and who are some of the best people I know. At home we did library stuff, garden stuff, ordinary boring stuff, some arguing stuff, and more pleasant stuff. Not much work stuff. That was the stuff that fell off the scale. And so it goes. I hope you all enjoyed the nice weather, even if you are in the part of the country that got snow over the weekend. Spring and fresh air is working its way in. And with it change. Good change. The kind I’m deathly afraid of and will write to you about later this week.
Here are some scenes from our weekend:
We had a nice long weekend with extended family who traveled in from far off and close places. The cousins just played and played and ate sugar and wrestled and raced and blew bubbles and argued and threw tantrums and slept all over the house in corners with sweat in their hair. (It reminded me of the children’s book The Relatives Came. It’s such a sweet book that, if you don’t have it, you should add it to you own library). When you don’t see family for months on end, you squeeze in as much love as you can when you finally get them in your arms. You memorize little arms and toes and noses and pray pray that they stop growing until next time. But they always grow. They just won’t stop. The next time they see me I’ll have 20 more grey hairs and another age spot on my face. Because as they grow, so do I. Pushing me on down the line. I like to grow old and watch this process of an aging family.
Here are some pictures from our weekend; snapshots and pauses in time.