If you are the parent of a school aged child, chances are you are … back to it.
The ‘it’ of course being the day in and day out routine we all succumb to as part of every day life. Schools are back in session, extra curriculars are in full swing and everyone has returned to work.
This of course would not imply that the majority of our readers were off from working during the Spring Break. We are a relatively small town with OJUSD and Modesto schools serving as key employers so it is safe to say many of our readers were off last week.
As a mom who happens to work, I too was among the vacationing set during our most recent break. I am finding this to be one of the struggles of a ‘working’ parent. The balance of creating a ‘break like’ atmosphere for my children (much like their friends with parents at home).
Earlier this year, I made the decision to do my best at making Spring Break vacation time for our family (much like it was for myself growing up). Some of my fondest childhood memories come from a baby blue ’67 Super Beetle and the open road to Washington with my mother. My grandmother and several other family members resided there, so that is where we would travel to for Easter.
A handful of my Pre-K (pre-kid) years were spent living in beautiful San Diego County. Several friends and family members had children then and would visit in hopes of ‘sight seeing’ with their young ones. Sea World, Legoland, San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park were always on the tour circuit when visitors would come into town. Visits to the beaches were naturally an equal part of the agenda, as were favorite spots to eat.
So now, as my children grow older the timing seemed right to take them for a visit to ‘mommy’s old stomping grounds.’ Knowing my children and their varied likes and interests I knew Legoland and the Wild Animal Park would be right up their alley. Logistically speaking they were also the two best places to visit and spend the least amount of time in the car going to and from.
A beach hotel was reserved, websites visited and the excitement of our Spring Vacation began.
The week leading up to our trip, my seven-year-old began demonstrating his extreme gift at memorization as he shared the route we would take once at the Wild Animal Park. This made for many giggles with our office staff, as he was very serious and matter of fact in speaking of our tour.
The trip was amazing. I’ll just leave it at that. The children had an amazing time and so did their mommy.
However, since I am a person always ready for life lessons, the lesson I gained from this family holiday was what I most wanted to share with our readers.
It is a lesson that caught me somewhat unexpectedly a couple of times as we were ‘vacationing.’
One of our days had been carved out for simple beach time. A picnic lunch, swimming suits on and sand toys in tow… to the beach we went. Pure joy are the only two words I can find to accurately describe how we felt that day.
Since this was my vacation, as well as the kids, I came prepared - book, magazines, running shoes - all the makings of vacation perfection.
Confession: I briefly looked at one magazine and in the early morning hours found I could not tear myself away from my sleeping children to catch a quick run.
This was craziness. How could I not be running? Why was I not reading?
One morning while out for coffee, it occurred to me - I missed my kids.
Oh sure, I hustle and bustle with them every day on a routine basis, but life is busy and moments are missed. This vacation was the opportunity to just place everything on ‘pause.’ No work to interrupt us, no projects or deadlines waiting, no phone calls, text messages or e-mails - pure and simple family time. It was amazing.
Prior to our departure my four-year-old asked me a question, which may have helped me with this realization once we were vacationing. As we discussed our upcoming trip I shared that I, too, would be on vacation.
“Every day?” my daughter asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “Just like the two of you. No work for mommy, when we are on vacation.”
“Not even for a quick second?” my daughter asked.
“Not even,” I confirmed.
That’s when it hit me. I leave work at the end of every day just like everyone else, but I am never 100 percent checked out.
Now, as we return to the hustle and bustle I am beyond grateful that my children have a ‘Spring Break’ memory with their mommy (as I once did). Most importantly I am grateful for the lesson of learning to truly ‘pause.’ Returning to the ‘play’ mode of every day life has not been easy. But we recognize if we are to ‘pause’ again, we must indeed do our fair share in the ‘play’ mode.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.