Summer Beach Vacation


I don’t feel it’s really summer until my toes have hit sand somewhere. I know I could just drive 20 minutes to Charlotte, but it's not the same as true getaway sand.

For me, summer isn’t complete unless we've been on a “hot beachy vacation.” I suppose, given our winters, I'd be smarter to seek out a beach in January. But who has time for vacation in January?

When our kids were really little, it was easy to get our travel fix. We decided where we were going and then just strapped them in for the ride. But it was a monumental effort to get to that point. I had to pack for them and for myself (and often for the husband). And we had to pack a lot more than clothes for our summer sojourns. We had to bring all the paraphernalia that would make life on vacation as convenient as life at home.

When they were babies that meant traveling with strollers, cribs and any other contraption you could strap them into. As they got older it was all about which toys we could bring that would occupy them and keep them in one place for at least 10 minutes without asking: “What are we doing next?”

As they got older still, we had to accommodate things like the never-ending school calendar and their sleep-away camp (which was a double vacation: their vacation from us and our vacation from them).

Back then, I called vacation "just a change of scenery.” Our routines were almost identical to our routines at home — except we ate a lot more and had much better tans.

Our days on vacation would begin just like our days at home: with our children waking us at the crack of dawn. They had no clue this was our vacation. To them, a vacation bed was just another bed to escape from (thus the “strapping in” theme).

In order to make sure vacation was really a vacation for us, we’d often figure out a way to weave in grandparent time to our vacations. This was a purely self-serving gift to our parents. We would give them the privilege of watching our children overnight so we could escape somewhere and sleep away from our children.  Grandparents love when little ones crawl into bed at the crack of dawn. It was a win-win.

Vacations with adult children are very different. Now they actually have opinions on where we should go. But one thing hasn't changed: We still pay for the privilege of their company — which might explain why they are so enthusiastic to join us.

True, I don’t have to pack for them any more, but that also means I have no idea what they might show up wearing. 

These days, I don’t have to worry about being woken up by them. Instead, I’m the one waking them up so they don’t sleep all day and miss the vacation. What goes around comes around. 

This year, we have the new wrinkle of our grown son having a serious girlfriend.  Luckily, we like her a lot, so she gets to come, too.

Mostly, I’m grateful that our kids still want to be with us. I still love the sand, but I'm even more aware now that this year’s “hot beachy vacation” is about bringing back happy memories while making new ones. Now if I could just get the husband to pack for himself.

As first published in the Democrat + Chronicle and on the USA Today Network