When my Vacation Bad Attitudes (Mostly) Came to an End

Do you do regular summer vacations with your family? Then maybe you’re like me. I count the days starting when the laundry is done from last year’s vacation. Then about six weeks before this year’s vacation the work starts:

  • Sending out emails to ask about work scheduling. You see, all four of our sons work together and everyone can’t be gone all week. So before the planning can get into full motion I need to know who will be at the vacation house when.
  • More emails with the room assignments, along with meal and game night schedules. We girls split up the cooking and each adult/couple plans a game night.
  • Starting my Costco shopping list.
  • Convincing Julia (again) that the spiders that welcome us each year won’t eat her.

But the main preparation I find myself doing is in my heart. There’s something about the word vacation that suggests that my week should l be spent doing something other than what I do every other week of the year.

The Dale House.

Years ago when we had lots of young children I found myself approaching our vacation with a tinge of dread mixed in with all the joyful anticipation of another year at the Nags Head, North Carolina Dale House. (Or Narnia, as a friend called it.) For 23 years in a row we brought our crew — and a long list of friends — to that creaky, beloved old house with no AC, television or phone.

Each morning I was up early with antsy kids ready to get started on their day. I cooked; did laundry; tidied up the toys they left behind at bedtime; refereed arguments; swept up escaped cheerios; washed dishes. Sound familiar? Yep. It’s what we moms do every day. The kids and I loved having Dad around and over the years he became increasingly helpful. But the fact is Mom is always Mom wherever she is.

Josh and Jaime 1981 on the Dale House porch. One of my very favorite pictures ever.

That’s when I decided to start calling our vacation a Diversion. The Latin route means to turn aside; as when traffic is diverted due to an accident. Nothing really changes for the driver when this happens. The scenery just looks a little different.

We leave for my diversion in less than two weeks. All 25 of us will pack into a big old house just south of St. Augustine. My grandchildren probably think it’s Narnia. It has AC, a television and a phone. But it’s still a week where I get to cook; do laundry; tidy up toys; maybe even referee an argument or two; sweep up cheerios for eleven instead of seven; and wash dishes next to four other diverting moms.

But with different scenery.

On the steps of the Dale House in 1991 with the friends who joined us that year. We escaped, leaving 20 kids with some singles who joined us. Couples Night Out was a highlight of the week!

That tinge of dread I use to have is gone. Once I realized that there is no vacation from serving my family my attitude changed. I do get to sleep a little later, but as soon as the pitter patter of little feet on the ceiling of our downstairs bedroom begins, I start thinking about getting to spend the day with my people. Yes, it involves the same kind of work I do at home. Only more because while my at-home family is shrinking, my people are multiplying so there are lots more cheerios to sweep up.

Are you going on a vacation this summer? Whether you’re a Dad or Mom, aunt, uncle, sibling, cousin or friend — join me in thinking about what an amazing opportunity we have to “esteem others as more important than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3) during a week our culture says should be for us to rest, be served and relax.

What a way to incarnate Christ to others.  Help me, Lord!

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7 thoughts on “When my Vacation Bad Attitudes (Mostly) Came to an End

  1. Learned this one the hard way after 3 or 4 vacations that “didn’t feel like vacation” or were just down right miserable, because I now had kids, but hadn’t adjusted my expectations and prepared my heart! i see so many of my young mama friends reacting the same way i did – with surprise, frustration and ending in resentment or bitterness. thanks for writing this post, it’s a helpful reminder! another thing that helps me is reminding myself that this is not heaven, so to not look to be satisfied here, but to work cheerfully and enjoy the joy that comes from following Christ’s example – just like you said with your grandbabies. : )

    • Wonderful reminder! Why do we expect this to BE heaven??? While spending a week with those we love most is heavenLY, we’re still with broken and fallen people. Thank you for turning my eyes upward!

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