So a while back I wrote a thing about my vacation expectations— and how wrong (so wrong, all the wrong) they typically are. This was also during a summer of great personal upheaval and smack in the middle of a transition from family-of-four to family-of-two-homes-and-shared-visitation. Therefore, my desire to control everything and MAKE IT PERFECT at all costs was potentially, marginally, heightened. Enter last week, when we went on one of the very best vacations we’ve been on. What was different? Well, a few things (location, people, timing, age of small humans), but having had some time to really think about it since we got back– I am realizing that mostly what was different was me. That old saying about “if mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy”? Truer words have never been meme-a-fied.
I experienced a lot of things in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina last week, but here are my Top 3 Things to Consider When you are a Control Freak on Vacation:
- Your people just want time with you- not the beautiful image of vacation you have in your head. Just actual messy, imperfect, wonderful you. Go ahead and make all the lists, plans, and itineraries you want, but when it comes down to it, just be present. One of my favorite things we did was hiking around the Blue Ridge Parkway. This was not on my original plan, nor were we even sure of where we were going. It all seemed too far, the roads too windy for a small human with a tendency toward car sickness, and just too many unknowns for this gal. But we went. Because first, I trusted the Eagle Scout man in my life to just take the lead, with only a small amount of protest from me. Because I let go, we got to go on a serious adventure together– the trailhead we couldn’t find (and are still laughing about), the tunnels where the kids screamed “ECHO!” as we drove through, Little One peeing off the side of a beautiful overlook cliff and the grand finale: the roaring waterfall we hiked to where we just played on the rocks, looked for bugs, and generally just were.
- Don’t try so hard to separate grown up activities from kid activities; chances are you’ll all find joy in different ways together. I typically approach vacation as a “the kids will love this” and the “adults will then get to do that.” And this time, I blurred those lines a whole lot. I (mostly) stopped viewing the boys as a commodity to wear out so they’d fall asleep like drunken pirates after a raid (you know that deep, deep post-beach-type slumber…?) at like 7 pm so the grown ups could have their time, but instead loved seeing them experience artists painting, street musicians playing, play areas and gardens at breweries (I know right?!), staying up a little later for a campfire and s’mores, and the be-all-end-all: daily hottub plunge! I got to see so much more of them as people and doing so really required me to just chill the actual F out. Really, it’s possible. Hard. But possible.
- I did not care about my clothing, bathing suit or accessory choices. When I usually pack for a vacation (and I swear, this is since childhood), I have envisioned what I would like to look like and how I would like to appear to other people, as I am jaunting, enjoying, exploring, etc. This is TRUTH. It’s nuts, right? I did, as always, overpack, but I did NOT get my nails done before we left. I did NOT spend lots of time changing outfits each morning to get it “right.” I did wear clothes that were functional and cute, but mostly because I felt good in them. I also DID wear a bikini in the hottub everyday. In the spring. After winter. No spray tan. Mom stretch marks. Yup. It was really, actually liberating to just be like “oh clothes? To cover my body so we can go do awesome things?” Instead of this: “An ensemble that exudes the she’s-got-it-all, she’s-so-carefree, her-kids-are-so-perfect, they must eat organic quinoa and bunny shaped avocados everyday” image I have, in the past, so wanted the world to immediately experience when they see me.
The awesome part? When I did these 3 things here’s what I got in return: starry nights in a mountain hottub, brilliant shooting star included. Muddy knees from kneeling in creeks, by firepits and on waterfall rocks. Coffee in bed with morning kid snuggles. Kids gathering kindling on a hike for their s’mores fire later in the day. Memories.