Just over seven years ago my wife and I took what would be the last vacation we would ever take as married adults without children. It was one of the best trips of our lives. Or at least I think it was. We went with one of her sisters and a friend. The four of us fit into our Buick sedan (luggage, food, and all) with a week’s worth of stuff and drove nonstop for five hours to a beach house on Long Beach Island in NJ.
Each of us made a mixed CD for the ride. We packed a few books, a case of wine, and a few bags of groceries. When we got to the house, we schlepped our bags upstairs and were at the beach within 30 minutes of arriving. We kept no official schedule. We did our own separate activities as couples without consulting the others. Except for a few agreed upon group purchased groceries for a communal dinner, we had no official itinerary and simply flew by the seat of our pants. My wife at the time was five months pregnant, so there were a few dietary restrictions, but otherwise we (all) were free to do as we pleased. It was glorious.
Just over a seven weeks ago my wife and two kids and I went on a vacation to the beach. We packed up for a four day trip to a town just past Boston on the ocean. There were three different checklists and a mapped plan of what needed to be placed where in the car for accessibility. I’m sorry, not a car, a minivan. There were enough groceries to feed a high school basketball team for a week. We took along four different streaming devices with which to entertain anyone who required entertaining for the three and a half hour ride. We only had to stop once for a potty break. Literally a potty from the trunk was placed on the shoulder of the highway for use when we were nowhere near a rest stop. We keep one in the cargo area in case such a situation arises that a potty is needed.
We made the plans early enough in advance that we were able to Groupon the trip and coordinate it with my wife’s entire immediate family and their significant others. Most of us arrived that afternoon and the rest the following day. The trip itself was quite memorable and enjoyable, though I selfishly complained about a majority of it at the time.
To a kid, there is something magical about a hotel. This one was nice by my standards; to my kids it might as well have been a Disney resort. Between being next to the vending machines, having an indoor pool, and a game room complete with a pool table, I’m not sure my kids even realized there was an entire beach and the ocean at the end of the parking lot.
Because there were nine adults present and only our two children, there were plenty of hands on deck to secure a few hours of grownup time for me and my wife. Don’t overly read into that statement. By grownup time I mean we went out for breakfast one morning and were able to take a private walk on the beach once without having to worry that one of our children was being washed out to sea.
Looking back now I can see that I was being selfish for thinking that all of the accompanying adults were getting in the way of my good time. I did have lots of fun with them and with my kids as well. From my kids perspective, not only was the hotel itself a magical place, but to be able to walk down the hall to another room and see one (or a few) of the grown ups you adore was also a special treat.
As an adult, I look back on the times my parents took us on a vacation. I realize several things. One is that I remember how much fun I had even though half of the trip was doing the exact same things I would be been doing if I were home. But I also am now able to consider it from my parent’s perspective and see how much of a hassle it would’ve been, but they did it anyway. Partly for themselves, just to get a change of scenery, but mostly for us. So we could say we did.
It’s hard work, and you might not feel rewarded at the time, but looking back it was worth every effort.