Every year my family goes to the beach for a week. We’ve been doing it my whole life – piling into the car, packed so full if feels like we are carrying our entire lives on vacation with us only to find we have, inevitably, left something important behind. But then, once unloaded and sunscreened and sandy, that important “thing” is hard to remember at all . . .
I wish I could say that these vacations are pure relaxation. But they aren’t. Not even close. There are moments of relaxation to be sure. But there is also a lot of stress – more so now that we have grown to include 3 sets of parents and children and all the struggles that go along with those relationships. My sisters and I are, have always been, very different people. Throw in husbands and children and those differences are only compounded. We eat differently and we sleep differently and parent differently. We have different priorities, are at different places in our lives. Add the confusion of trying to be parent and child and sibling simultaneously, and it is sometimes enough to make my head spin.
There is always snipping. There is always tension. There is always drama.
There are always tears.
But this is my family. And I love them beyond comprehension. And for one week a year we are all together, 24 hours a day. Family. I would not trade that week for the world.
This is the week where my children wake up every morning (often far too early) with their grandparents and their cousins and their aunts and uncle, they eat together and play together and get knocked under waves together. They get salt in their eyes and sand in their hair . . . and in the process they are forming a bond the likes of which I have never known. I only have 2 cousins, both younger than I, and as we lived on opposite coasts our contact growing up was sporadic. I want more than that for Fletcher and Lola Gray. I want more than that for my nephews. I want more than that for myself.
I always put a lot of pressure on this week, have expectations that are probably unrealistic. My children are growing up quite differently than I did – I was fortunate enough to have, for much of my childhood at least, both sets of grandparents living in the same city. I saw them often. Not for special occasions or events, just for every day. I hate that Fletcher and Lola Gray do not have that. Will most likely never have that. Their relationship with their grandparents will inevitably be different for the geographical distances between them. But, I keep reminding myself, different is not always a bad thing. I just need to keep working at it. In so many ways it seems to get harder every year. Harder to get away. Harder to set work aside.
And then, harder to see the week end.
This year we spent an amazing week at Saint Simon’s Island. Our house was right on the water, so we woke every morning to the sun rising over the sea and closed every day on the porch surrounded by twinkling stars and changing tides. We saw lots of dolphins, drew many, many hearts in the sand, and overcame (mostly) a fear of crabs.
But most importantly, we spent time together. What could be better than that?