Ah vacation. Time to relax. No work, school or responsibilities. iPhones are forgotten. The beach beckons. Hear the seagulls. Feel the warm breeze. And…here comes the hurricane. Not a literal hurricane. I’m talking about my three children.
I never appreciated a child free vacation until I couldn’t go on one anymore. There are five of us now and despite the gift of being in the beautiful South, I’m well aware of how much work a vacation with kids can be. The slathering on of sunscreen multiple times a day, the coercing them out of the pool after three hours, the junk food, the rain that traps us indoors for days, trying to keep my fearless three-year old from drowning in the undertow. You get the picture. By bedtime, I’m ready to collapse or scream.
On the flip side, I get to spend lots of quality time with my family. We are blessed to be able to go on vacation. We are lucky to have beautiful weather today. The biggest decision of the day is beach or pool. I wake up to chocolate chip waffles and good coffee. I’m reading a really inspiring book. Life is good.
Vacation with kids? Yeah. We’ll do it again. We are making memories. And those are worth all the work.
I was watching the Today show this morning, which I never do because usually I have little ones circling my ankles, but today all three kids are at Grandma’s house. (Thank you Mom!) I finally had a few moments to catch up on what the rest of the world is doing. (And I love Hoda and Kathy Lee.) There was a girl band performing and as the camera panned the front row and the looming crowd, I noticed a disturbing trend. Almost everyone was watching the show through their smart phone screen. Like a rock concert where everyone holds up their lighter in the dark, this time it was broad daylight and every hand held up a phone. It was a little creepy. Maybe creepy is not the right word, but depressing, yes.
It made me wonder how many of my own special moments and memories have been captured through the lens of my camera or the small screen of my phone. How many T-ball games did I really watch or was I more interested in capturing the perfect photo to preserve the memory? I felt proud seeing my daughter sing at her preschool celebration, but I spent too much time cursing out the camera battery that died halfway through her performance. I missed out because I was focusing on something less important. Lately I haven’t been taking pictures; I just don’t feel like lugging the camera around, or my phone is out of memory and I don’t want to deal with that headache.
I’ve felt the twinge of guilt, not getting the perfect shot of my Dad opening his Father’s Day gift, or capturing my toddler’s cheesy smile when he scaled the climbing wall in our backyard all by himself. But I was there. Really there. Not messing with the camera settings or forcing fake smiles out of everyone. I was present in every way. I’ve begun taking pictures with my mind. I tell myself to remember this moment, really remember, and it seems to be working. I know I won’t remember everything. The images in my mind will fade and meld together into clumps and pieces of memories and emotions, but my children will remember. Mommy paid attention to me when I earned my yellow band at the swimming pool. Mommy was smiling and clapping when I hit that pitch at T-ball.
I don’t want their memories of me to be one of a mom with a phone in her hand trying to get perfect shot after perfect shot. I want to watch the concert! That’s why I’m there. I want to watch it all and take it all in and hold it near my heart, where special memories belong, not in some dusty old photo book or storage on my computer. Put your phone and camera away for a day and see just how freeing it can be.