Family vacation was different this year. And not just in the obvious difference of a location change. (For the past six years, we rented a house at Indian Lake, and this year we traveled to Myrtle Beach.) It was a special, freeing kind of different.
I needed a break. In fact, I did not realize just how badly I needed the break. Going from working long swing shifts a couple days a week to shorter shifts five days a week has been a bit of a shock. Don’t get me wrong, I love the schedule, consistency and nightly routines, but the girls and I still miss our weekdays off together.
It’s funny to me that I used to tell people that going to work was my break. It was definitely “easier” than ages 2/newborn, 3/1 and even 4/2. Which meant, vacation the past five years has not really been relaxing but rather constant Mom work without any breaks.
But this year it was different.
Instead of overpacking diapers, bottles, wipes, snacks, binkies, blankies, snacks, outfits, extra outfits, bouncy seats, boppies and more snacks, I really just needed swimsuits, a few dresses, underwear and jammies. Oh, I still overpacked some, as I couldn’t forget the girls matching outfits with their cousin, Brandy, or my sister would have disowned me. But it was just easier (once I finally did decide to pack an hour before we left).
And oddly enough, even though we were driving hours, it slipped my mind to pack a snack bag. I just simply grabbed some Gatorade cups and a bag of Goldfish crackers on the way out the door. (Yes, I know Goldfish have been recalled but that bag is long gone, and we survived).
While over the past few years the short ride to the lake was overwhelming with the girls, the long ride to Myrtle Beach actually wasn’t bad. There was the initial “when are we going to be there?” 10 times from Reagan before we left Lima, and we had to stop for the first potty break before we reached Columbus. But it was on our time. We were on vacation. So, when the girls wanted to catch lightning bugs at the rest area, we did just that.
When we finally reached the resort, we were on the 10th floor. I remember being worried about my toddler falling down the one step at the lake and here we were on the 10th floor. But my girls, they liked to push the elevator buttons, and the balcony had a railing plenty high with very close vertical bars reassuring me we were safe.
And my baby, she could open the door to the balcony to go visit with adults that were sitting out there. She could open the door to the fridge to grab her own milk cup. She could turn on the lights, flush the toilet and even stand on it to reach the soap.
And this place had a waterpark complete with water slides, a lazy river and multiple pools. My girls loved going ‘round and ‘round down the slides. And I got to share in the fun of the slides and just relax with my girls floating in the lazy river.
In years past, I worried about getting my sleepy babies to bed as they would wake up at 6 a.m. no matter what time they fell out. This year, I rolled with it. Many nights, Reagan cuddled up on me and fell asleep amid a room full of craziness. And Maylie was up until almost 11 p.m. every night. But, these kids magically learned how to sleep past 8 a.m.! Not only that, but they could reach the doorknob and go crawl in bed with GG and Papa, or find their tablet and watch videos, and even grab the doughnuts off the counter.
It was so different and so freeing. And I couldn’t help but wonder why we hadn’t gone there before. But then it clicked. I would never have enjoyed it as much as I did this year. This was the first time I felt like I got a real break from it all and was able to actually enjoy our vacation and time spent together and not feel like it was work.
It is bittersweet really, but my babies are growing up. They are becoming independent little beings that don’t need Mommy to do every single thing for them. I am certain one day I will miss being completely everything to them, but for now, I am taking in and enjoying this life being just a little different.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.