Ah, Vacation. (All I ever wanted right?)
We took a vacation with five other families earlier this summer and it was wonderful. Seven days of sun, sand and smiles when we weren’t chasing, refereeing and coddling the eight children under the age of ten we’d brought with us. It was filled with wet bathing suits and boogie boards, building sky high sandcastles and waiting on line every single night for to-die-for ice cream. Even the weather cooperated when the rain came and went during the night, almost as if the sky did all her crying when the stars blanketed her expanse then wiped her eyes and decided on shining every morning.
And I learned a lot about myself in those seven days. Like how to have a nicer, more relaxing time was about focusing on the things I didn’t do instead of on the things I had always thought I should do.
On the ride home, crossing the bridge back into reality I thought about the five things that I didn’t do that had made this vacation wonderful and am continuing to do to help make this the best summer of our lives.
First, I said yes more than no.
In real life, I am firm believer in the power of “no” as a parent. No, you may you not have that! No, I don’t think so. No, there will be no more fill-in-the-blank. But that first day on the beach, among the other parents and with the sun shining on us I learned the power of Yes.
“Yes!” to more ice cream, to folding someone else’s laundry if they made all the lunches that day and to staying at the beach with other children if mine decided to go back to the house with another parent. “Yes!” to more tablet time, late night and fruity cocktails.
I gave up some control and in the process found a Zen I hadn’t had before.
I didn’t pick up (my phone or anything else)
If you tried to email, text or message me the week I spent on the sand chances are that I answered you about twelve hours later. I read books and Time magazine. I had lovely, deep and touching conversations with my friends and I thought BIG thoughts but I hid my phone down deep in our beach bag. Sure I might have missed the opportunity to take a lot of seaside shots but my fellow vacationers were snapping away and I didn’t miss the chaos or temptation of a Facebook feed at all.
I did keep the phone close the day my parents visited but once they arrived on the beach back in the bag it went. And while there was some honest –to-goodness ribbing when the phone number we used on my kids temporary tattoos we’d gotten ( in case anyone went missing) was mine and not my husband’s I still stand by my decision to not pick up.
I stopped the shame
At forty-five I’ve learned a valuable lesson. My body is mine. I am top heavy and probably always will be. I have a round ass and thighs that aren’t perfect. But last year I ordered a halter skirt-ini that I fell in love with. So when this year’s beach season rolled around I let my fingers do the walking and ordered that bathing suit in four colors! I knew I’d have enough lycra to hold me in and along with that came enough confidence to allow me to play paddle ball with my son for an hour, diving for that tiny ball or walking along the beach with the skirt covering all my parts. It was a fabulous feeling, not hating my body for once.
And the other win? One set of identical tan lines this summer.
I didn’t skimp on the sunscreen
Every girl really wants a true Hawaiian Tropic Tan. Hell, I spent most of my twenties covered in baby oil trying to achieve a color as deep as mahogany but it often led to nasty burns. I’d end up spending the rest of those vacations loading up on ibuprofen or fearing the spray of the shower. The instant gratification of red shoulders isn’t worth the nausea, peeling skin or the cancer scare. Instead I kept myself and my family sprayed and slathered and we all left our vacation brown and pain free instead of lobster- like and cranky.
I ditched the Diva
I don’t like to think of myself as high maintenance, I mean who does? But the truth is I used to be the girl that packed six pairs of shoes for seven days, brought along a trunk of makeup and tons of clothes and actually flat ironed my hair before heading out to the beach. I had my reasons, not the least of them being that if you ask anyone who has seen me before a morning shower they’d attest to the fact that I kind of resemble the Heat Miser; all hair standing on end and ruddy complexion. But I let go a little this summer and just combed my hair or threw some sunglasses into its oily mess before heading for the ocean. Surprising everyone, including myself, I only wore one pair of shoes all week. And while I’m still not a fan of flip flops I did find my flat sandals to be the best for the beach and moonlit walks. I never touched my flat iron and the only cosmetics I used were mascara and a touch of lip gloss.
I left the diva at home and had the best week of my life.
Most vacation posts are going to be about what you’ve done to make this summer better than the rest but I’m glad to share the things I didn’t do that made all the difference.
Wishing you a wonderful vacation season of your own this year!