For the last few years, my mom and I have been taking a girls' vacation. It started because I was desperate for a space and place in my life when I wasn't responsible for baby diaper changes and sippy cups clean ups. The first child-free trip was such a success that it has now become an annual ritual. We've chosen Florida for the last few years since my vacation goals have been so simple: No kids. All beach. This year, I asked Mom if we could change the plan up a bit.
Our house is baby diaper and sippy cup free and, dare I say it, caring for the girls seems easier. Don't get me wrong, they are still very annoying and very needy but I've found that, on a warm, sunny day, I can now close my eyes for 10 seconds and soak in the sun, which is something I was unable to do a few years ago. Unless I wanted to open my eyes and find them wandering down the beach or eating sand. I figured, this year, if I could get 10 seconds of relaxation on our girls' trip, I'd be happy.
I get nervous when traveling, or spending countless hours, with others- and my children. When we let them out of the pen, the girls get restless, rowdy, and rambunctious. Did I mention they are also whiny and annoying? I spend most of the time worrying about how the other person is feeling about how my kids are acting. This has resulted in no relaxation for me and crooked teeth due to self preservation teeth clenching. Since I've traveled with Mom for several years, and oh yeah, she raised me (Melissa, formerly known as the annoying, whiny child in the family, I figured everything was going to be ok. And boy was I...
Road tripping with my Mom is awesome. She is the yang to my yin. She's the perfect traveling companion for me. Here's why:
She's super chill and she doesn't mind my driving. For example, she didn't scream out in sheer fear when she zoned out and then thought I was driving the wrong way on the highway "because I can't really see that car up there. Is it driving the same way as us or toward us?" Nope. She just pointed it out to me in a cool-as-a-cucumber fashion. "I'm not sure (because I can't see) but that car might be coming at you and you may be driving the wrong way on the highway."
If I need a talk break (I know, few and far between) she keeps herself busy. By talking to herself. She laughs and talks, quite animatedly, to herself whenever I just needed a moment to Facebook scroll or enjoy a moment of silence, or if I needed to intervene in one of the girls' slap fights.
She gave me confidence as a navigator. Keeping me on my toes, she'd throw out questions like, "Do those 20 barrels there in the left lane mean that I can't drive in the left lane?" or, "I can't read any of the signs until I'm right on top of them. Do you think I need to get my glasses updated?"
Each new day with her is like experiencing something with someone for the first time. Even if we'd done the same thing the day before. For example, if we ate at Don's Seafood for dinner on Monday night, on Tuesday night she'd say excitedly, as we walked into Don's Seafood Restaurant, "Oh! This looks like a nice place to eat!"
She's totally cheap (or as she says, frugal) like me. Who needs wine at a restaurant when you can get a big can of margarita mix at the corner convenience store for 1.99? But she knew when to splurge, like when Charlotte asked her to buy a fifth stuffed mermaid for her because I'd exhausted my own funds on mermaids one through four.
She didn't let the kids antics get to her. Not even when we were outside of aforementioned corner convenience store, and Caroline got upset about a sticky stroller wheel and called her NANA FAT BUTT or when one of the kids peed the bed. The bed that Nana was sleeping in. No, Nana just went with it and wrapped said child in a multi-towel taco the following night before curling up next to her for a night's snooze.
When in Rome, she did as the Romans, aka the Mariettas. She biked. She hiked. She swam. She played tag. She boated. She played mini golf. She cut up hot dogs and cleaned up drink spills (but not sippy cup). We never stopped and neither did she. Like a Boss. Wait a minute, like a Mom.
I've realized that it doesn't matter if just the two of us are in Florida on a beach, if we are on a spring break trip with the girls, or if we are just hanging at her house or mine. Hanging out with my mom is a vacation. She has always made me feel safe and protected and understood. I don't think anybody else in my whole life has ever done that for me (not even Andy who keeps me safe and protected but thinks I'm from another planet.)
I read another blog today about a mom who overheard an older couple as she and her husband were walking on the beach with their kids. The man in the couple said, "Those were the days." I agree. These are the days and every day ahead are the days. These are the days not to let the little things in our children's lives pass us by. These are also the days not to let the little things in our parent's lives not pass us by and to be sure that the little things in all of our lives intersect. There's only so many years in your life that you can watch your parents enjoy your children growing up, or your children peeing on your parents, or your children calling your parents fat butts.