In June we took a family vacation. I recall one mom who used the term “taking the show on the road” for such trips because although they do offer one kind of rest – a break from doing the same things in the same way – it is not necessarily a break from such tasks as planning meals, cooking, washing dishes, and all that. In fact, there’s a fairly intensive pre-trip planning that’s required unless you’re willing to shell out a bunch of extra cash for things you forgot. As we packed everything we’d need for several days of both camping in the woods and camping in a friend’s empty apartment, I couldn’t help but think that it would be much easier to just stay home. A little change of scenery is good for us, though. And we’re making memories.
As it turned out, this year there were plenty of memories to be made. It started with a car breakdown just as we were turning into our camp site at Devil’s Lake in Baraboo, Wisconsin. We couldn’t get a tow truck to come get our car until the next day. Then they needed a full day to repair the power steering line. So we ended up staying an extra day at our campsite. The good thing: it was a lovely place to be stranded. Our boys enjoyed sleeping in a tent, roasting marshmallows, observing slugs up close and taking in plenty of the simple delights of being outdoors all day long. But on our second night, just as it was time to retire for the evening, it started pouring. For two hours straight. We had a river running between our tent and the ground cover. You know how when you’re camping you reassure yourselves by saying that if it gets too bad you can always hop in your vehicle? Well, there was no car at our camp site just then; it was still in the repair shop. The boys’ sleeping bags absorbed a good deal of water. The next morning my son said, “It felt like I peed my pants, but I didn’t.” My husband threatened to never go camping again. Thankfully we got our car back so we could pack up our wet gear and move on to phase II of our adventure, which involved sleeping with a roof over our heads and the use of an electric range for cooking. Such luxuries. We got more sleep there, explored the Madison zoo, swam in a pool and splashed around at a splash deck. That was our June vacation.
In July we had a vacation of an entirely different kind, the kind in which parents who are used to having their children around all time time are suddenly at a loss for what to do without them. One very thoughtful sister of mine offered to take care of the kiddos for two nights of camping at their Grandpa’s farm. My husband and I couldn’t believe how quiet the house seemed. We went downtown, slept in until 7 a.m. (the latest I’d slept in months), and visited a different church on Sunday, just because. I realized that after a few hours of stillness, I’m ready to hear our boys’ laughter and commotion. I’m ready to have one boy or the other come to find me with a question when I’m cooking or writing. I’m ready to have someone ask me to read a book. I’m not ready for a week with no children around.
Now I know.