I am on vacation. The new kind of vacation. The kind with the kids. It probably should have a different name because vacation is not what it used to be. I remember vacation. Vacation was packing MY bags one night and heading for the airport the next morning coffee in hand, flipflops on my feet and a carry-on containing my bathing suit that I knew I’d immediately put on as soon as I arrived at my beachy destination. It was 7 days away from work, and away from hassle. I’d turn off my phone knowing no one could need me THAT badly. Vacation was waking up at 10, putting on my bathing suit and heading to the outdoor cabana for breakfast in the sand. Vacation was a massage at 3, nap at 4, drinks by the ocean at 6 and dinner at 8. Vacation was going to sleep at night flushed from the sun, buzzing from the wine and relaxed that there was no agenda for the next day.
I am on vacation. But not THAT kind of vacation. I am sitting as I write in a PITCH dark room. Hannah is asleep on a blow up mattress at the foot of my bed. Luke has been asleep since 7 so here is where I’ve been sitting since then. We needed TWO luggage carts to bring all of our stuff to our room. We are here for FOUR days. I actually lied to the bellhop and told him I had four kids. I packed That Much Stuff. I’m pretty sure I forgot some essentials for myself, but at least I brought thirty or so Matchbox cars, two baby dolls and anything Hannah could need to care for them, a doll double stroller, a tiara making kit for all of the cousins, pickup sticks, Tiddly Winks, three board games, swim goggles, and a soccer ball.
I am on vacation. That’s what it’s called even though I had dinner at 6:00 with 10 of my family members but I don’t recall actually speaking to any of them because Luke was grabbing the knives from our table, and throwing food at the table next to us. Preventing any major injury took precedence over conversation. I know I ordered a glass of wine but I don’t quite recall drinking it. I know a toast was given at the start of the meal by my parents who took us on this vacation but I don’t recall clinking glasses with anyone since Luke was grabbing the stem of my glass as I went to lift it up. On my dinner plate was a piece of chicken, some rice and three Matchbox cars. Letting Luke drive the cars through my food kept him entertained so I was fine with that. It’s his vacation too.
Hannah wore her most favorite new dress and a necklace to dinner and ate a huge ice cream sundae for dessert. She went swimming in the indoor pool for an hour right before dinner and will again when she first gets up before breakfast. Two of her most favorite girls in the world, who happen to be her cousins and she rarely gets to see, are down the hall. She’ll see them before she’s even dressed in the morning, will be with them all day tomorrow and will have a pajama party with them tomorrow night. She went to bed an hour later than usual. During that hour I lay in her blow up bed with her watching Lady and the Tramp on the portable DVD player. I told her an extra long, extra special good night story before her eyes shut for the night.
Luke will have unlimited beverages at his disposal. He’ll get to eat french fries at every meal. He gets to see more than just mommy’s face for 4 days in a row. He has MILES of open, vast hallways to run up and down. He has stairways galore to climb.
No, I won’t sleep late. I won’t read any books as I lounge by a pool. I won’t be flushed from the sun or buzzed from drinks. I won’t be going to bed past 10 on any night. I won’t be dancing under any stars. No, that’s not really what vacation is anymore. Vacation is better now (did I really just say that?). It has more meaning now. Vacation is now creating memories for my two little kids. Vacation is the excitement and sparks I see in their eyes as they wake up somewhere new and get to eat cereal in their bed out of the little boxes. Vacation is letting THEM stay out late. Letting THEM have chocolate milk at breakfast and dessert at lunch. Vacation is watching THEM let loose on the dance floor in their fancy clothes. Vacation is their laughter, their exuberance at all that is new in a place they’ve never been.
It’s 10:00 and Tim is sound asleep next to me, snoring away. There’s no TV and even if there was, I wouldn’t be able to turn it on because Hannah is only feet away. But I’m on vacation. We’ve only been on this vacation for 8 hours but Hannah has already told me she’s having the BEST time ever. The last words she said as she fell asleep were, “I can’t wait until tomorrow.”
And neither can I.