I used be good at vacations. As I child I gleefully looked forward to packing the car and driving to new place where I could explore and pretend. I would begin stacking clothes and books weeks in advance – setting them aside as special, just for vacation. I would save my allowance to buy new word search books to keep me company on the car ride. I would pack the softest cloth to wash the travel dust from my bike when we arrived at the cabin. I would make a plan of what I wanted to do each day of the trip, what I wanted to buy at each venue as my souvenir (I had a charm bracelet, so that was always my first choice). Vacation, whether it was 3 days or 7, was a major life event to me.
Then I grew up and things changed. I married a man who wasn’t very interested in vacations. He didn’t feel the same giddy joy I did – not from the planning or from the experience. He went once, for my sake. But, I didn’t feel the same joy when I could see he clearly was not fully engaged in the experience. So, we didn’t take another vacation. After we divorced, money was carefully budgeted for me and a vacation was not part of that budget. I lost the habit. I lost the joy.
At one time I worked for an organization that would buy back unused vacation days at the end of the year. This is what I did most often. I had no need to take vacation days. I had no desire to take them. As time moved on, I continued to not take vacation days. I would take one here or there – like for opening day of baseball season, or when family came in from out of state. But, I’d forgotten how to take an actual vacation.
Now that I’m a mom, I’ve planned and taken a few vacations with my son. I try to take him somewhere at least once every year. They are often not far or fancy. But they are time for us to be together. It’s nice to take vacations again, but they’re not the same. Partly because I have the burden of planning (and paying for) them and partly because I never quite got that magic vacation feeling back.
Recently I found myself in the familiar situation of too much vacation time accumulated at work. I needed to take some days off or I would lose them. Finding a time that works around co-workers’ schedules and my son’s school schedule is tricky. So I simply picked some days (including one I could spend with my boy) and planned (or rather didn’t plan) a stay-cation. These are my staycation successes:
Day 1: took a trip to Canada with 2 friends to hear a speaker. A change in circumstances meant that I needed to drive us (I don’t like to drive – especially to unknown places). We made it over the border without too long a wait, we had lovely discussions on the trip, and we only lost about 20 minutes due to traffic. Although we were later than we planned we found a parking lot quickly with a perfect spot for me, we only walked one block up and one block over to get to our venue, we stood in line for approximately 7 minutes (wow!), we were seated for our buffet dinner and had first choice of the delicious foods, and then had no trouble finding our seats in the arena. At the end of the night, exiting the parking lot did not take more than 10 minutes, I found my way back to the highway, the border crossing was quick and easy, and the company was amazing. I also started (again) taking my vitamins which I never remember. Definitely a win.
Day 2: back to the car to travel with my mother to my hometown to see a boy I used to care for, who now has his own baby. This boy stole my heart when I was 13. I was so lucky that his mom trusted me to care for him. We loved each other very much. Being with him back then showed me how much I wanted to be a mom. We moved in separate directions and grew to have our own lives. He married a beautiful woman (she’s pretty, too) and they now have a cherished daughter together. It was so wonderful to meet his wife and baby, to see my “Buddo” again, to see his mom and old family friends from church or school. I got to hold her, this child that is like a surrogate granddaughter to me. And it was a little bit of heaven. I remembered all those nights I held my Buddo, rocking him, singing to him, watching his beautiful little face. He’s now a big wall of a man. And so gentle with his little girl. Seeing him hold her was wonderful, and hard, and magic. And I remembered my vitamins. Another win
Day 5: I got up early to ensure my son didn’t miss his bus. Once he was out the door I logged into my work email. I know….I’m supposed to be on vacation. I told you I wasn’t good at this. But, I forwarded one email, accepted one appointment for the next week, deleted the spam and abundance of listserve contacts, and then I logged off. Yes! Definite win there. And – I’ve remembered my vitamins every day!
Day 6: starting the day with a doctor’s appointment. Not fun, but necessary. It’s some of that self-care stuff you hear about. But then I met a friend for lunch. I haven’t seen her in far too long. She is the BEST hugger! Everyone says so. Seriously…..she’d make a mint at the local carnival. And we had a delicious portobello sandwich. Yummmm….portobello, roasted red peppers, goat cheese….grown up food. I don’t get to eat things like this often.
Day 7-10: a lot of nothing interesting happened (except me still remembering to take my vitamins!). Some of that adulting stuff that costs money and leaves you with nothing fun in the end. Again – necessary. But, I also did not log into work. Yay, me! I did not check email. I did not update spreadsheets. I did not review voice mail. It may sound like nothing. Or like a cop-out. But, this is HUGE for me. I am that person who checks email at night before I go to bed. And two to ten times on the weekend – just in case. I typically go in to work on Saturday after dropping my son at practice. I get so much done in the quiet. This weekend my son was camping all weekend and I had lots of time to go work in the quiet. But I didn’t. I’m not that important at work. Most of what I do can wait, or someone else can handle it. But, I’ve always filled every empty minute of my time with work. Often, regrettably, I would do what I ‘had’ to do with my family and then would get back to work. That’s not who I am anymore. Partly because I now work with a fabulous team that steps in for each other, and partly because I’ve learned some lessons about boundaries over time.
So, I have no vacation pictures to share (except this one…aren’t they sweet?),
but, I did it. I stayed away from work. I spent a week without plans. I took my vitamins every day. And I survived. These may seem small to you, but these are big successes for me. And I’m going to celebrate that tonight, before I head back to work tomorrow. Remember to celebrate your successes, too. No matter how small they seem, or what you believe others may think – if it feels like a big deal to you (or even slightly more than a little deal) – then celebrate!
Stay-cation 2019 – one for the win column.
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