Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vacationing. Kind of.

Holy moly, folks!  I knew I had accidentally skipped a week or so, but I've just noticed that I haven't blogged in nearly a month.  That's pretty bad.  I am so sorry!

The good news is that somewhere in those few weeks I took a vacation.  Vacation!  Hooray!!  !!!

Last year, during my sabbatical, I wrote a little about how vacationing with small children is so different than vacationing pre-kids:

I occasionally miss the old kind of vacation, the kind where you take a pile of paperbacks and some garbage magazines and sit on the beach for hours, coming in for a tomato sandwich, noon beer and nap on the couch.  I used to stay up late to watch movies and get up long after the sun had begun to really bake the beach.  Like so many other things in life with kids, I remember fondly the days when my time was exclusively mine, when naps and late nights were by choice, not necessity.  The transition was hardest in the first year.  I got very frustrated when my vacations felt "hijacked" by the little squalling, demanding bundle that was my first child.

It is different now.  I'm tired, sure (I'm the only one still awake by a full hour!), but now that I have fully wrapped my mind around what the "new normal" is per vacation time, I'm getting more comfortable with the fact that I can rest when I'm dead and that these stinky, sandy, loud little rugrats are worth every ounce of time and attention we give them.  I still get frustrated, tired, and aggravated and I still long for my book on the beach, but more often I enjoy getting sand in my bathing suit from all of the rolling about and castle building I do.  I love introducing the kids to snow cones and fireworks and boiled peanuts.  I'm working on reminding myself again and again that this time is really short and really, really valuable. 

This vacation was no different.  And I'm exhausted.

I have realized recently that I'm struggling a little bit with balancing the ideas of rest and renewal with family life.  I agree with my sabbatical self, above, about the shortness of this precious time we have when the kids are small and malleable and, well, WANT to spend time with us.  I am aware, sometimes brutally aware, that time is limited.  But folks, I'm also aware that I'm burning a two-ended candle at all three ends.

Even Jesus took a break, I know that, but figuring out HOW is tricky.

I want to have my cake and eat it, too.  I want a vacation from the hard stuff: cleaning and laundry and paperwork and tantrums and schedules and email and whining, obligations and crack-of-dawn wakeups.  But I want to include the fun stuff: dinners together, exploring, playing, connecting, discovering, giggling.  And I want to sleep a lot.

This doesn't exist, of course.  Families are made up of people.  People are made up of complex moving parts that have needs and reactions.  I can't be with the kids and also take a break from their needs.  I know that, I'm just figuring out how to negotiate it in real life and real time, and trying to figure out what the practical real world solution is.