Ok, so in my first post about the beach I got all theological and reflective. It’s nice that on vacation I actually have a little time and “head space” to do that. But I didn’t go on some beach retreat. I was with my FAMILY – and that my friends is a blessing and a curse! Sorry to use theological terms again, but if the shoe fits…
This vacation was a little different from past ones. Money was really tight this year and we really hadn’t planned on going anywhere – maybe a few little day trips to keep us from losing our minds, but nothing expensive. I shared this with some friends and one of them who owns a small condo very close to a beach area (and only lives there part-time, the other part is spent on the opposite coast) said, “I’m not going to be at the condo at the end of August. Why don’t you guys use my place?” My jaw dropped. That was a hugely GENEROUS offer – I gave her plenty of time to think about the FIVE of us invading her space when she wasn’t around – but she stood by it.
It was tight – her condo is ONE bedroom. Hub and I used the bedroom while the two younger kids slept on her sofa-bed. There was an alcove in the entryway with enough room to put an air mattress for our teen – the only thing missing was a door for ultimate privacy. And boy did she miss having a door! But free is free, so we had to make the most of what we were given. But teenager was definitely NOT happy – not happy about her lack of total privacy, not happy about the slow wifi, not happy about being separated from her friends, not happy about having to spend a whole week with US, her weird and so-uncool family, plus she’s decided that she doesn’t like the beach anymore (who is this person and what has she done with my girl?). Her attitude was really annoying.
There was an ever-so-slight shift in her behavior when I dragged her with me to tour a local lighthouse while her siblings and father stayed behind. She enjoyed the view, but especially reading about the history of the place and seeing some artifacts raised from a shipwreck. She enjoys experiencing history, but most of all anything that might have “paranormal vibes,” so the artifacts were really cool for her. For the same reasons she also enjoyed a tour we took of an old military base used from the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. Although she was disappointed she didn’t pick up any “vibes” there at least we got her to leave the condo and get her nose out of her phone! Problem though was that the younger two HATED this trek. They complained almost the whole time – too much walking, who cares about where the old guns were fired to test the munitions, who cares about the dark tunnels where the guns were stored underground, who cares about the ruins of the old barracks – – where’s the beach?
There was NO time during the week when everyone was happy.
The younger kids wanted to go to a restaurant every night, teen wanted take-out. Younger kids wanted the beach, teen wanted to stay home (luckily at 15yrs, we could leave her back at the condo so she could have some private time). Teen wanted to sleep in, younger kids got up early (remember teen had no door to block out noise). You get the idea…
And my husband? Well, he slept a lot. It’s what he does on vacations, which is not always helpful. And he is even more lost than I am about how to live with a moody hormonal teenage daughter. I’ve only got a little edge on him there because I WAS one at one point, a long time ago. And I’m more of a morning person, not that I LIKE the morning, but that’s when I have my surge of energy. My husband is more of an evening guy – so I always wanted a walk in the morning and he always wanted one at night. But we’re grownups, so I went on a night walk once with him, and he went on a morning walk once with me – the other days we just irritated each other with our opposite body clocks.
So that was our vacation in a nutshell. Yet even with all that, we were at the beach, which is my happy place, and I WAS happy – and grateful. Grateful for a wonderfully generous friend, grateful for my relative good health (fibroids, high blood pressure and perimenopause are manageable), grateful for the health of my husband and children (autism sucks sometimes but at least it’s not cancer), grateful for the quiet sunrises I enjoyed while my family slept and the condo was quiet, grateful for the warm sand under my feet, the sun on my face and the giggles of my kids, even though they were never all giggling at the same time.
Oh, wait a minute, I take that back. There was ONE time during the week when all of them were laughing EXCEPT me. We were at Applebees (a family friendly restaurant chain) and they were all (hub included) acting like beasts, and I started glaring at them. My husband snapped a picture they all thought was HILARIOUS. They laughed about that dang picture all week. I leave you with this:
But this is MY favorite picture: