Last week, I took my two kids on a little vacation to stay in a camper on the beach. Joe had to work and his kids were with their mom, so my kids and I went solo. We have always taken vacations with just the three of us – the beach, the river, Disneyworld, Washington, DC – but this was the first one since Joe and I have been married. So this was a special little bonding experience for us…
I can’t wait until next week when we all six will hit the beach for a week as a family on our first true family adventure. This was our “pre-vacation.” It was like ordering the sampler appetizer platter at Applebee’s – you get just enough to taste it, but it only leaves you craving more. And right now, I AM CRAVING MORE BEACH.
As I think about this week at the beach I have come to realize some truths that I learned on our little pre-vacation.
1) I may be spoiled, but I am capable.
When we first got to the beach, I pretty much had to single-handedly bring every ounce of everything that was in the car in on my own. I mean, EVERYTHING. The kids were excited to be there, so they wanted to run around and check everything out. Ok, so maybe my son had his X-box hooked up to one of the televisions before I even finished unloading the car, but he sure didn’t help with anything else.
I turned on the AC and then I turned on the water pump. When I turned on the water, it spit at me. Not just a little drip, but a full fledged splash in my face. Apparently it doesn’t help to have the water pump on if the water leading to the camper is shut off. As I was trying to figure this out, I apparently thought out loud and said, “I need Joe here. I can’t do this by myself.”
My sweet 13 year old son responded quickly… he said, “No offense mom, but you were a single mom for HOW many years? I think you can handle it.”
(insert my beaming pride here)
I am so proud that my teenage son looks at me and sees a strong woman who is capable of taking care of her kids with no assistance. He knows that I am with Joe because I WANT to be with Joe and not because I NEED Joe. What a blessing that he has learned that on his own!
Too many women jump right into a new marriage after divorce because they see an “eligible” man who can take care of them. They quickly jump into their new “family” and all the kids see is that they need a man to take care of them. I definitely don’t want my daughter to believe that. My children know I have dated throughout the years, but they also recognize that I didn’t get married when I probably could have. I waited for the right man for all three of us… and thank God for him.
2) My kids can play well together when forced.
We live in a 5,000 square foot house and my kids still somehow find a way to get on each other’s nerves, but this week I threw them into a small camper for three nights and they got along like best buddies. HUH??? Seriously, the camper was smaller than my bedroom, but the kids had fun and laughed and played with minimal to no fighting.
They spent all of their time on the beach playing together and I think that my daughter only ran up to me crying once (this is a major accomplishment). Of course we had not been home from vacation for more than a couple of hours when I found this printed out next to the labelmaker on the coffee table:
So I am thinking that the next time my kids start to battle it out I should just lock them in the basement together. Maybe confinement is what they need to get along.
3) Eating & drinking the entire time on vacation makes you reevaluate.
I have eaten well. And a lot. I mean, A LOT. Not to mention the amount of beers I drank on the beach. The thing about summertime is that the hot weather makes me feel like I need to have drinks on the beach (or while unpacking boxes in my bedroom this afternoon or while typing a blog at noon, but whatever). Plus the kids and I love going out to eat at the beach. We have our few favorite places that we have to go every time we are there.
A big (no pun intended) problem with being at the beach is that I tend to compare myself to others. I am not skinny. I think I am pretty average, but I am definitely not skinny. So when I wear a bikini on the beach, I am very self-conscious and find myself comparing myself to others. I will see a bigger woman and think, “I don’t look like that? DO I????” And then sit and stew about how chubby I feel for the next hour. All the while I am taking a swig of my third beer and eating an entire jar of honey roasted peanuts and a can of Pringles.
I always leave the beach with grandiose plans of a much improved life – a life where I exercise daily and only eat healthy foods. Of course those well made plans also include eating everything I can while there because “I might as well go out with a bang.”
4) God has a sense of humor…
You think that when you go on vacation you can escape reality. I mean, no one ever goes on vacation to get in the middle of drama. They go to ESCAPE. That is not always how it goes down.
It just so happens that my step-kids and their mom were also at the beach last week. I assumed with them staying in a condo 12 miles down the beach, we would probably not have any run-ins. I was mistaken… doubly mistaken.
The first night out we went to one of our favorite restaurants forgetting they were closed on Mondays. Since they were closed, we went to our other favorite. My son had been texting with his step-brother, so we knew they were there. I told him to make sure they knew that we were going too so there would be no surprises.
It all went very well and we were excited to get to hug my step-kids and speak to their family, but then we slipped off alone and put some space between us so everyone could enjoy their own dinner. I felt very good about it because it showed that we can co-exist and be around each other without incident and that evidently makes the kids very happy. The kids are very vocal about their desire for us all to be on friendly terms, so it makes me so happy when we can show them that we are capable of it.
Ironically enough, as if God wasn’t having enough fun already, my ex-boyfriend that I dated off and on for about two years right before I started dating Joe also walked into the same restaurant. Of course my kids ran to him to hug him and speak. I waved from the table and thought, “Where is my ex-husband and his wife? This whole comedy is not complete yet.”
So we may go on vacation to escape reality, but sometimes life just follows us. All you can do is laugh at God’s sense of humor.
5) Nobody judges anybody at the beach.
I ate two Oreo Klondike bars in one night while watching Dodgeball. Yep and no one said a word.
We spread Nutella on just about everything we had in the camper. Because, seriously, Nutella tastes good on ANYTHING. I think we pretty much finished the entire container that I bought for the trip. That healthy fruit salad I made to bring on the trip??? Yeah, it tastes heavenly with Nutella. But, again, NO ONE JUDGED US.
People walk around on the beach in bathing suits that they should NOT be wearing… but hey, at least they have the confidence to do it and at least they are walking, right?? We show solidarity in understanding that they too were probably eating Nutella with marshmallow creme with a beer at 11pm the night before. We give each other a knowing smile as they walk past.
And finally, no one judges anyone for drinking on the beach. And that is FACT. All you have to do is walk down near the fishing pier and see all of the college kids and marines stumbling around and you know that I am speaking the truth. Or, you can look around you and see that even the older folks are having drinks on the beach. I spotted this old lady next to me one day:
Yes, that is a small bottle of red wine. And she is drinking it straight from the bottle. I think the best part is the way she is sitting there holding it. Again, I didn’t judge. I opened my Summer Shandy and imagined giving her a “cheers.”
Overall our vacation was a tremendous success, but I am excited for our real vacation to start on Friday. It’s going to be a LONG week. Joe and I are child-less all week and are looking forward to going to see Dave Chappelle (tickets that his amazing wife bought him for Father’s Day), but other than that we will be working our way to the weekend.
I’m a little scared though because the house we are staying in is bigger than the camper on our “pre-vacation,” so I’m not sure if my kids will be able to get along. Maybe I can force them to sleep in a closet in the garage while we are there.
I’m kidding… kind of.