Sunday, September 1, 2013

The New Definition of "Vacation"

I’m sitting here watching the rain fall incessantly in Avalon, NJ whilst getting my red wine on. Going on “vacation” with my two children ages 5 and 3, Ayla and David, and my husband Tim has forced me to re-evaluate my personal definition of the word. Needless to say, its meaning has evolved. I must say it’s not much of a vacation for Tim and I—we get more relaxation and peace of mind back at home when they attend preschool. This is sheer work, plus a good measure of irritation. We don’t have to worry about filling the day with enough activities that will make everyone tired by bedtime, because the nonstop whining wears one down to the nub. We herd the kids from the playground to the Cape May Zoo, through the perilous grocery store or five and dime local outlet as they paw pretty shiny objects on the shelves. I successfully usher them through the place with only three Kit Kat bars and two useless trinkets. We’ve also gone through several bottles of red wine this week, but I refuse to divulge the exact number (the kids drank milk).

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m unable to enjoy time with my children. But before we had kids I had gotten it into my head that going away to a sunny beach destination with (my future) adorable kids would be more idyllic, or at least relaxing. As it stands now, we are considering going home early for some rest before the school year starts after Labor Day.
Lest I make it sound as if being a parent is utter drudgery—it’s not—I can say that I have noticed that my children are growing closer to each other and building the foundations for a healthy, fun relationship that will hopefully last into and through their adulthood. They are actually playing together! Entertaining each other with the nascent beginnings of scatological humor! We successfully weaned them from their strollers. We also had more time and opportunities this week to grow closer to one another. I got climbed over, fart-kissed (don’t ask, but it’s really cute; they fart-kiss me with their mouths on my cheek, just like grownups do to their kids’ tummies), and kept Dave company as he initially stolidly refused to venture even his toes into the edge of the ocean’s waves. I accompanied Ayla into the sea as she twirled and pranced on the wet sand, lying flat on her belly as the waves approached faster and closer. We watched a touching, random act of kindness as another little girl fed a seagull chick tiny wriggling crabs that she dug up from the sand.
Waiting for the Big One.

The time I spent with them this week has actually inspired me to venture into new activities with them. I have one week with Ayla before she starts pre-kindergarten at a new school—my old school, Friends Select, in Center City Philadelphia. Before I used to dread open stretches of time with my kids: how will I make the time pass, how I will entertain them, and more importantly how will I maintain my sanity without resorting to the red wine at 3PM? I’ve learned by watching good moms in my life, like my friend Karen. She gives her kids varied experiences, like visiting a farm, beautiful gardens, and many museums and outdoor play spaces. She does it with good humor and grace. My inclination to be a homebody is changing. It has to. I want my kids to maintain open minds when it comes to the possibilities of life and what opportunities it has to offer us. I need to expand my own world to show them that taking risks can be fun. 

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