When Vacation Doesn’t Feel Like Vacation

We’ve just made it back.  2 vehicles packed to the hilt with enough stuff to make you think we might have moved.  12+ hours on the road.  

So far I’ve unpacked the kitchen gear.  But the rest?…it’s going to have to find its way put in the chaos of the week.

I try to think of how to sum up vacation…our vacation.  It can’t fit into a text or a status.  

Although I do my share of complaining below, please know that I really do think of those who would very much LOVE to vacation but can’t for various reasons.  Although our vacation seems to have its less-than-peachy-parts, I am VERY grateful that it’s something that we’ve been able to do!


Vacation should be…vacation, right?

But is it always?  I wrote about this, out here, at the beach, last year.

And this year, {drumroll please} I managed to do it….again.

ON VACATION, I somehow still manage to max out (pretty much every time).  This time was no exception.  In no time, I was into full-fledged coping mechanisms (shoveling candy in, locking self in bathroom, hiding out on the porch…you may know the drill)….and my hubbs had his own version. It wasn’t pretty.  My marriage isn’t always pretty.


This is the thing: vacation is a lot of work…for any young family, especially at the beach – renting a house, driving for hours, packing everything from toilet paper to spices…and then there is the parenting together, figuring out how to team up on the million questions that plague parents (like whether whining merits correction).  But the hardest part of all: EXPECTATIONS.


No matter how hard you try to remove them, or how much you assure yourself that you’ve finally peeled down to your base layer (no expectations)…those stubborn layers of wallpaper are there without your knowing, layer upon ugly old layer.  I always think I’ve reached the bottom layer, and in no time I find that there is more to scrape away, and the scraping…it’s painful and tiresome.

Come to think of it our honeymoon was a lot of work…and I was miserable the whole time, for various reasons…mainly being a spoiled brat…and those damned expectations.  (It included a missed flight, mystery illness, didn’t make it to the picture perfect island etc…but we still got a week alone together in Florida, something I’d move mountains for these days.  A story for another time.  I digress.)


For special needs families at the beach, or anywhere…there are a WHOLE LOT of wheels that need to be reinvented to make things work….and that’s true at home…and MUCH more so on vacation.  In short, many many unspoken expectations are trampled to death, year after year.  Mental pictures of reading on the beach etc…they may never happen.

We’ve obtained sets of specialized gear that we’ve scoured the earth for. There is the stuff for the beach, the pool, kayaking, the dock, the ferry, the wildlife refuge, the aquarium, and then figuring out diaper changes, COMMUNICATION, potty breaks, meds, batteries charged (so my boy can hear), and tube feedings on the go…

My head spins.  I crash.  I hit pause.


And…in the case that you agree with me (in thinking that I am a miserable human being to take the time to complain about vacation), know this: I’m not the only one.  Put a human being (especially this one) and put them in ANY scenario…in the lap of luxury or in the middle of a desert, and it won’t take them long to identify the things that stink…and sometimes the stench in what should be paradise is so strong, that you can’t think about anything but the smell.

On the 6 hour drive out to the beach, I tuned out babes chattering in the car I listened to a bit of Paradise Lost…and the quote that gripped me…that I forgot in the midst of my internal gripping? –

“The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” – John Milton

And there is always this gem:

“Everything bad that can happen to a person has happened to me.” – Paris Hilton

case. point.


So I hit pause.  Or more like ran into a wall…and it wasn’t without tears…it was what I needed:

to be still.

And a true vacation, it requires being still.

So under the covers, or hiding in the bathroom, or slipping onto the porch…I was still.

I had to be, because vacation can be tough.  In the still – I peel back layers of expectation and see the beauty that lies beneath…that is – in the mess, in the break-downs, in the different.  It ain’t always easy…but it is good – so good.


With sandy bodies in soggy towels there were lessons learned – from the babes.  Sweet tender lessons that also ROCK my world.  Stay tuned for those!

if you'd like to email, you may do so at arearrangedlife at gmail dot com

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