If I were building a dream vacation for myself, it would be really simple. At the end of the day, I am an easy girl to please. All I would need is some good weather, a beach chair, a towel, some sunglasses, a book, and ipod, and a cold drink. Occasionally, I’d like to stop to eat a meal or two and to cool off in the water. I’d opt for a pool over the ocean for this, since there’s the whole sand in the crotch factor. Yes, I am anti private loofah-ing. See? EASY.
But, you see, easy is not a word that comes into play when vacationing with the family. There’s absolutely zero ability to be selfish and just be all, “hey kids, go ahead and feed yourselves and apply your own sunscreen and reapply your sunscreen and I’m just going to lie over here and work on my book.” No, ma’am. It works nothing like this. It works a little bit more like…
Breakfast is served. Bowls of cereal poured, drinks gotten, doughnuts eaten, messes made, messes wiped up, dishes put in the dishwasher. Suits, towels, sunscreen applied. Gear acquired. You are ready to go and then someone has to pee. And then you get to the beach and you are crunching on sand and your feet are tired from carrying your youngest because she forgot her shoes and the sand is hot. You sit for a minute but then you are collecting seashells and before you know it you are chest-high in the ocean, pretending that it doesn’t freak you the hell out that you are feeling strange things swim past your legs and you just know there are hundreds of children peeing in the ocean and there’s a good chance you will step on something nasty like a fish head. Then you are collecting clams and watching them bury themselves back into the sand. Then you are reapplying sunscreen. Then you are tasting more sand. Then you are photographing your usually afraid of the water son being Fearless McGee and waterbending (whatever that is) in the water.
Lunch is served. Sandwiches are made, drinks gotten, chips eaten, messes made, messed wiped up, dishes put in the dishwasher. Suits, towels, sunscreen applied. Gear acquired. You are ready to go and then someone has to pee. You go down to the pool and Isabella needs her floaties. Josh needs his floaties. Everyone wants to go in the hot tub. Immediately you have the heebies. Emily wants fries. Josh wants fries. Isabella wants fries. Emily has to pee. Emily begs you to swim with her. Emily begs you to swim with her. Emily begs you to swim with her. So you do. Josh has to pee. (what happened to the days when kids used to pee IN the pool?) Josh wants to go back to the beach.
Shower 1, shower 2, shower 3. You go to dinner and pray that your children will behave. They don’t, because, well, they’ve been in the sun all day and they are exhausted. You make several trips to the bathroom, scarf down your meal, overpay for it, but you are just thankful to not be cleaning up more dishes.
You bring the children home and try to put them all the bed in the same room. Three hours later you finally sit down. You have a mudslide in hand, and you are ready to lose – gracefully – in Settlers of Catan against your husband and sister and brother and sister in law. You eat dessert you didn’t want to eat, you drink drinks you didn’t want to drink, you eat doritos you hadn’t planned to snack on.
You finally go to bed, and know that tomorrow will be a lather, rinse, repeat.
And you kiss three sun-kissed smiling faces. And you smile, because even though there were whines during the day, and far-too many trips to the bathroom, and too much sand everywhere and too much junk food and too much crying and too many messes and no rest for the weary, your three kids are having the time of their lives and are enjoying the dream vacation that they had dreamed for themselves. They are in Myrtle Beach, with their cousins, and their aunts and uncles and grandparents. They are eating ice cream and watching fireworks and going to the waterpark and getting to stay up late and seeing the Atlantic for the very first time ever. They are spending every single minute of every single day with their mommy and their daddy. There’s no homework or bedtimes or morning alarms or uniforms or having to wear anything but a bathing suit.
So, maybe I’m not living out MY dream vacation, I am smiling, because I know they are living theirs.
And I know they’ll remember it forever.