Take the Vacation
by Emily Marcason-Tolmie
by Emily Marcason-Tolmie
Last week I dipped my toes into the brisk ocean in Plymouth, MA. My boys played in the sand nearby as I chatted with an older woman. We exchanged pleasantries: what a beautiful day; the water is freezing; is this your first time in Plymouth; where are you from? She smiled at my boys.
“How old?” she asked.
“Six and three,” I responded.
She sighed and quietly watched the waves roll over the sand. “My boys are 36 and 39,” she said. “The years go by so fast. It feels like just yesterday they were six and three.”
I glanced at my boys as they giggled and made sandcastles. Admittedly, the days sometime feel so long living fully immersed in everyday life.
“Always take the vacation,” the woman knowingly said. “These are the memories you will take with you when they are grown and living their own lives.”
Earlier in the week my husband and I sat at the kitchen table as we discussed taking a quick trip with the boys. My oldest son, getting the milk from the refrigerator, piped into the conversation.
“It would be fun to go and stay at a hotel with a pool,” he said simply.
“Do you really want to go somewhere?” I asked my husband. “We could just stay home and do stuff around town.”
I selfishly thought about what it takes to go on a trip these days. There is laundry. There is packing the clothes for my boys and then forgetting to pack my own. There is grocery shopping for car and hotel snacks. There is more packing. We need to pack the car like a strategic puzzle. It’s exhausting. It is so much easier to stay home. Is the vacation worth it?
In the end the need for salt water therapy and my son’s wish to swim in a hotel pool won out. We settled on Plymouth, MA.
It is not about the destination but being together. Finding quality time to be together at home can be hard. The weekdays are filled with work, school, and extracurricular activities. The weekends include birthday parties, housework, and other commitments. Traveling together as a family forces family time, the good and the bad, from the meltdowns in the backseat to the smiles from the beach.
Leaving home takes everyone out of their routine. I am a stickler for the boys’ bedtime routine. Every night we do baths, brush teeth, read books, give hugs and off to bed they go. There is not much straying from the bedtime routine. Vacation is the only exception to this rule. Staying in a hotel means lots of giggles, room service, and staying up later than usual. In reality, the one most out of their routine is me. I worry about their disruption of sleep and next day crankiness. I worry about returning to the routine once we are home. In the end it all seems to work out. The memories and bonding is worth the stray from routine.
Doing new things build strong memories. Standing on the shore of the beach and looking out over Plymouth Harbor reminds me of the beauty in the world that I’m often too busy to notice. There is just something magical about the ocean tickling your toes and the salty breeze filling your noise. The sunset our first night in Plymouth was the heat of the day married with the sea to create pinks and oranges streaked across a graying sky. The boys oohhed and ahhhed at Mother Nature’s show. They danced with no inhibitions to the evening band on the hotel’s deck overlooking the ocean. This is what it is all about.
The unexpected happens and that is all part of the fun. There are always surprises. Things don’t go as planned. We promised our boys a trip on a boat around the Plymouth Harbor. We found a boat company and purchased tickets. The boys were excited. Five minutes before boarding we were told our 3 p.m. boat departure was cancelled due to winds. Instead of taking a trip around the harbor we went back to the hotel and played on the beach. I dipped my toes in the ocean and spent a few priceless minutes chatting with an older wiser woman.
I envision myself one day being an older wiser woman. Laugh lines around my eyes and mouth will show a life well-lived. I am standing on the beach with the waves tickling my toes while watching a young mother with her boys. I will inevitably remember my own boys giggling in the sand while constructing castles. I’ll offer this young mother the same advice an older woman once offered to me. “Always take the vacation.”