Mondays With The Mamas: Making Memories
Vacationing is one of those things that is truly necessary and that I don’t fully acknowledge until I’m doing it. What is the purpose of life without creating memories and experiencing life outside of how we normally live it?
Growing up, every year my parents would take my sister and me out of school for a six-week journey to a different region of the world. In those six weeks I learned more about other people’s cultures than I did in nine months in school. We tasted unusual (and often delicious) food, chatted with locals, visited museums and cultural monuments – and bonded as a family. Looking through my baby books, there are pictures of me everywhere from Japan to New Guinea, France to Fiji. We horsebacked in the Andes. Houseboated in the canals of Europe. Biked through England and Scotland. We took songbooks (to my sister’s chagrin) and came home with stories.
I don’t live that way anymore. Travel with my family has become a luxury, a sneaky treat of a week-or-so to someplace not too far away. I don’t know how my parents managed travelling with two kids, for six weeks, before iMap and the Internet.
Now, for me travelling with a toddler can be a little more challenging. The packing (and with toddlers, that includes lots of bulky equipment), the plane ride (“please don’t scream, please don’t scream, and please stop kicking the seat in front of you”), and the departure of schedule (napping in the car, oh sure). But then you arrive…
Recently, my husband, daughter and son and I spent a weekend in Wine Country to stay with some friends who had recently bought a vacation home on a vineyard.
Vacation is the one time I let go. We let the kids eat chips and drink soda. Stay up late and stargaze. And we all check the tech and play with cars – or dolls – or both as long as the kids are into it. We chase. Tickle. Repeat.
Having an iced latte and a tickle at “The Shed” in Healdsburg
With our friends as gracious hosts, whose home – and guest home – could have been from a Nancy Meyers movie (see “Something’s Gotta Give”), we ate, wandered, and slept like a group of refugee houseguests. We rode tractors, visited general stores, swam in a beautiful pool overlooking vineyards, and filled our three days with as much “summer” as possible. We were making memories.
Dinner with Friends
Then we visited a lake. On a scale of one to ten of how much I hate still bodies of water, lakes are on par with swamps at about, well, a ten. Of course my boy wanted to go into it. Swimming in lakes is something I gave up after a childhood experience in Lake Arrowhead bumping into a prehistoric-size bass after jumping off a boat dock. It is among my top phobias. There are fish – and eels – there is moss, and there are horror movies about things that happen in lakes. But my boy wasn’t familiar with any of those and so I decided to forge forward for the sake of my kid.
The good news about tackling a phobia like going in a lake is that you have zero concern about the pale cellulite on display (which would normally preoccupy my brain while walking around in a bathing suit) and 100% of the focus goes toward the sensation of sand mixed with moss and “water dust” you are stepping in. The water was cool on the hot summer day. My boy loved it. And I sat with him, breathing, just breathing (and watching out for fish).
The sun was intense. The water was cool. A dragonfly danced on the breeze. “This is what summer is all about” my friend said as she watched her son and his friend swim to a floating device way-way out in the lake. True.
Vacationing is the only time I am plugged into nothing but my family. The light is different. The food is different. My senses become more alive and my kids drink in the experience. We gratefully go off the grid.
On the drive back from the lake I turned to my other friend to ask him what he would like to still accomplish in his very accomplished life. What was left on his bucket list? After a beat, he answered, “I think I’d like to travel for a couple months.” It all made perfect sense to me.
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