MOPS International's Mom-E-Mail, July 9, 2013


The Dream Vaca

Each year my family of five goes on vacation to the beach with my husband’s folks.  But, really, does calling it a vacation truly make it one? Though I want to be grateful for their generosity—and I truly try to be grateful—I find the “vaca” to be nothing like the advertisements I’ve seen on TV for vacations at resorts or on cruise ships. (I have yet to see one life-size cartoon princess serving my children tea.)

Each year, the trouble usually begins on our car ride to the beach. Hanging myself over into the back seat to nurse the newborn without unstrapping him from his carseat, for fear of losing time on the road, does not feel vacation-ish. (Good news: I wasn’t the driver!)

Attempting to coerce a three-year-old into urinating into a plastic bag in the back seat of the car, because the toilets at the last rest-stop for seventy-eight miles are out of order, is not the least bit restful.

Grandparents filling the children with drugs—I mean chocolate cake—after our midnight arrival, does not restore my spirit.

The poodle aggressively scratching at our bedroom door just four short hours after we’ve all bedded down for the night and fallen asleep, does not refresh the body or the soul.

Remaining, in each daytime moment, manically vigilante to keep non-swimming toddlers away from pools, hot tubs, lakes, oceans, rivers, bathtubs and spaghetti pots (we eat a lot of spaghetti) is not how I would otherwise choose to unwind.

Later, strategically cleaning sand out of young crotch folds, without getting one grain in the drain of the rental house tub, is not the handiwork I’d anticipated enjoying while at the beach. Nor do I enjoy the trip to the emergency room to dislodge the shell my toddler stuck in her ear. To discover whether or not she could hear the ocean.

In case it’s not obvious, the sandy dream vaca is not my dream at all.

Mine?  Enjoying delighted grandparents and kissing sleeping chocolate-faced children.

Margot Starbuck
is a writer and speaker who lives in North Carolina. You can connect with her at Her most recent book, Permission Granted, explores how Jesus loved sinners and how we do.

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