Last August I went out to lunch with two of my closest friends in DC, along with our kids. It was a beautiful August day, we sat outside, and our kids were well behaved. In short, it felt almost like I was on vacation. So much so, that I had an idea: This time next year, why don't we all go to the beach for a week with the kids? If we're hanging out here in DC, we might as well be hanging out at the ocean!
Months went by, filled with casual conversation about a potential beach week, and then in January we got real about it. We researched beaches, houses, and prices, and we actually booked it. It was predominantly to be a week with just the moms and the kids - our husbands could probably only take a couple of days of of work, anyway. A weeklong playdate, really. Six kids. Three moms. Easy enough, right? Relaxing?
First, there's that minor thing called PREGNANCY. Truth be told, back when we booked the trip I did contemplate that I could be pregnant, but back then it was all hypothetical. And, in the end, the pregnancy wouldn't have been a deal breaker. But, here I am at the beach - sober, fat, having to pee in the ocean every thirty minutes, and unable to push my beach cart up the dune (thanks to my amazing friends for doing that for me!).
There's also the other minor thing called KIDS. So many kids! The idea of sitting on a beach in a chair with a good book is totally outside of the realm of reality. We chase kids, we clean kids, we get sand out of kids' eyes and ears and mouth. I experience sheer panic at least a few times an hour when I look around and realize I can't account for one of the kids I am responsible for. And while I'm on the topic about lots of kids, what is it about kids that make them absolutely unable to SHARE THEIR FREAKING TOYS?!?!?! Just share! Don't push! Don't scream! Don't cry! Just chill out, for God's sake!
And then there's that thing called EXHAUSTION which is basically a combination of the pregnancy and the kids. This isn't the kind of vacation I took with friends in my twenties (pre-kids). By the time we get all the kids to bed, the three of us moms are so exhausted that we barely make it past 10pm. After all, the chances of the three of us making it through the night without having to tend to one of the six children is slim to none. And then we're back at it at 6:45am the next morning - making breakfast, changing diapers, cleaning up spills, packing lunches, slathering on suncreen, breaking up fights, rotating time outs, cleaning dishes.... and that's all before 9 am.
The idea of a relaxing vacation with kids just doesn't exist.
So is it worth it?
Yes. A thousand times yes. It is exhausting, incredible, inspiring, lifetime memories kind of fun.
Sure, the kids fight. They scream. They run us ragged. But they also laugh. And play together beautifully. And have dance parties, and run in and out of the ocean, and build sand castles, and run the boardwalk, and eat ice cream cones and popsicles without worrying that their hands will get sticky. They jump up and down with excitement at the prospect of boogie boards and dinky amusement park rides and the moon peaking out from behind the clouds at night. The big kids help the little kids, and the little kids follow the big kids, and I can see before my very eyes that bonds of friendship are being made that, if we are lucky, will follow them for years to come.
Multiple times this week, I have stopped to take it all in, smiled uncontrollably, and thought to myself: This is what a childhood vacation is all about.
It is hectic and crazy, and it is worth every exhausting, unrelaxing minute. Because someday my kids will be old and mature and not want to go on vacation with their parents or their parents' friends anymore.
But not yet.
I am counting down the days until the vacation is over so I can rest. Yet at the same time, I am mourning each day that goes by because it means one less day of vacation, one less day with amazing friends, and one less day of memories.
Sign me up for next year.