Red Sea Glass
‘No guilt intended, but this may be one of our last family vacations’, that’s what I said to my teenage kids when they came down to the pool the first day of our vacation and said they were bored.
Needless to say, that did not go over very well and probably made it worse.
Given sleeping doesn’t seem to work that well anymore and we had arrived on the late side, I decided to leave by 8AM, take a walk to the local store, pick up some food, specifically breakfast for my children when they woke up and then go down to the pool to hold a table in the shade before they all became occupied so my kids and husband could enjoy their day.
My kids are 13 and 15, so I am only just starting to enjoy the freedom that comes with that! The idea of going for a walk on a beautiful day with my headset in and listening to my playlist feels like a vacation in itself and clearly I am not alone. I passed many women who appeared to be doing the same thing I was. The only problem when you are left to your own devices is that you start to think, and then think some more, so that by the end of the walk, yes, you are calmer but you are also much more focused.
Although I was the one who carried her and gave birth to her 15 1/2 years ago, it only occurred to me during my walk, that there would not be that many more ‘family’ vacations, just the four of us and suddenly I was very sad.
Yes, when you vacation with young children there is a lot of work involved and you try to steal a moment just to enjoy a chapter in a book or a private walk on the beach, just a little alone time. While enjoying every moment of them growing up you do tend to think it will get easier when they are a little older or soon they will be able to stay alone in the room for a bit so I can run to the store if I need to and yes, it does get easier but there is a price to pay for that only you do not realize that part of it so fast.
The biggest part I miss is the pure excitement you would see when they found out they were going on vacation. There were no questions asked except when are we leaving. The smallest things would amuse them and they couldn’t wait to do things, it did not matter what the things were, as long as you did it with them.
Renting the same apartment on the beach as they were growing up was something that they looked forward to. Something as simple as looking for the biggest ornate cup in the cabinet to play with in a bathtub was an enjoyable game for them. It’s not easy to pack up a family for a vacation but it is so worth it because you knew they would enjoy every minute of it.
Flash forward a few years and it changes. The words ‘we are going on vacation’ are no longer as welcome as they once were. Now there are questions attached, who, what, where, when and for how long to start with and of course ‘will there be anyone there I know?’ comes up a lot too. I started to feel like the family was not enough and if the family is not enough, what else isn’t enough.
So this is what I would say to my children if I weren’t so afraid of saying it wrong: ‘I understand it is no longer ‘cool’ to take a walk on the beach with your mother and the game of mini golf also loses some excitement if I am the only one you are playing with. Even laying next to me at a pool or on the beach may limit your opportunities to meet someone new which is ironic because that is what I most want for you, just to be happy.
What you don’t understand is that I know all of these things. I know this is your time. We are raising you and hopefully preparing you for exactly this and the fact that you have the confidence to want to go and do and try means that your father and I must be doing something right.
What you don’t know is that I would do anything to see you smile and know that we as a family can still make memories.
What you don’t know is that while you are still sleeping in the morning, I walk to the beach to try to find the red sea glass you have hunted for. I fantasize about giving it to you just to see you smile, maybe you would agree to walk with me after that to find some more.
I know how much you love me and your father. We never doubted that and never will. But sometimes although you are with me, I miss you.’ That is what I would say to them…….
So, while I appreciate and enjoy the freedom that comes when your children start to grow up, I still want to milk a few more family vacations and I will continue to hunt for the red sea glass.