We’re winding down our two weeks at the beach – what a luxury for this Jersey Shore girl to have the sea and the sand so near. I admit that every one of our twenty-three beach vacation years, I reflect on how much work a beach vacation is with small children. The sand, the schlepping, the safety issues! Of course now, I’m relaxing, watching young mothers do what I did decades ago. And, despite the work involved, and the time/financial constraints of those early years, how lucky we were (and are) to be able to take a vacation of any kind.
Yesterday was a wonderful body surfing day and I had to remind myself of my Dad’s sage advice: “Whenever using power tools or swimming in the ocean, stop before you get over-tired: you’ll be much safer.”
As I was packing up our chairs and umbrella to leave the bounding surf, I received two wonderful comments from the family next-door — we’ve gotten to know them over the years we’ve been coming to this house. The first was from the mom who is about my age. She had a partial knee replacement a few years ago and she asked how my knee had been over the past year. I told her I’d given up tennis which broke my heart but helped some, but even without playing tennis it seemed any time I did any weight-bearing exercise my knee became a problem. I admitted I was frustrated with the limitations my uncooperative knee put on my exercise. She said, “You are a high-energy, active, and fit person so I can understand why!”
Those were the words I needed to hear. There is nothing like being in a bathing suit approaching age 57 to make you feel, well, at best, not young. Although my family tells me I am holding up admirably, it is nice to hear from an objective party.
The other nice comment was from her daughter-in-law, who said, “we were watching you and your daughter running in and out of the water, laughing and enjoying the surf. We said to each other, oh my, that daughter and mom couldn’t be more alike!” And while I replied, “yes it is true we can’t deny being related to each other,” I thought, “another vacation gift” — to be compared to my wonderful daughter. Wow.
While our son wasn’t able to vacation with us this time, I got to spend time with him earlier in the summer helping him move. There is nothing quite like the bonding opportunity afforded by the work of moving. While perhaps not as fun as body surfing, packing and sorting provides ample time to talk, philosophize, and connect.
To be able to laugh and enjoy my adult children, and be reminded in the here-and-now that my children, truly, my life’s work, are incredible people – loving, kind, caring, responsible, creative, funny – makes me glad I had the opportunity to do all the work of mothering.
Hang in there all you young moms, and take a vacation FROM your children when you need it. You’ll reap the rewards in a few years, I promise, and you’ll be lucky if you can have them “on loan” from their adult lives now and again.
There will never be “No Vacancy” for our kids for as long as they are willing to spend some vacation time with us!
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