We've been home from Colorado for a few days and are already well aware that the vacation is over -- the washing machine has been going nonstop, the lawn has been mowed and edged, Brandon is in Chicago for meetings, Lincoln left for Wisconsin this morning, Lillie and I have ordered her school books and gone shopping for her dorm, and I've been working on lesson plans. Yep -- the vacation is over.
Of course every mom of young kids knows that a "vacation" isn't necessarily a break from all the "work." There is the planning and the packing. There are still mouths to be fed and clothes to be washed. Let's face it: vacation is work. When I was packing for the trip, I brought along three different books and a few movies for the 12-hour drive. I didn't open one book the entire time. Instead, I read If You Give a Pig a Pancake more times than I can count and made up dozens of stories ("Once upon a time, Oliver and Pooh Bear rode the ski lift in Colorado ..."). I drove Hot Wheels cars all over the back seat and drew picture after picture trying to entertain Oliver on the way to Colorado.
So, yes, vacations are sometimes work for parents -- especially parents of a two-year-old. Two-year-olds don't know to sleep late. They don't like to sit for long stretches of time drinking coffee in the morning or sipping wine in the evening. They like to be entertained at 6:30 in the morning, and they don't like to sit still for long. And even though their favorite phrase is, "I do it MYSELF," there's not much they can actually do all by themselves.
But along with the fact that vacations are sometimes work is the more obvious fact that they are worth it. They are so worth it. Yes, there is the packing and planning and the occasional bickering when seven people are crammed into an SUV. On vacation there are still mouths to feed and laundry to do, and there's keeping up with all the activity of five kids. But mostly there are the memories of being together. Eating dinner out at familiar and favorite places, riding the ski lift and hiking down the mountain together, seeing the 20-year-old look after the 2-year-old, late-night poker games, go-cart rides, rock climbing, nightly hot-tub trips, laughing together, and really the most important thing -- being together.
When I think back on family vacations I don't even remember the work. What I remember are the memories. And what sweet memories they are and how grateful I am for these times together.