Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I can’t think of any single vignette to encompass our vacation thus far. Rather, several images come to mind as I try to frame our time together over the last few days:

Tiny beads of sweat that congregate on Abby’s nose and lip as soon as we spend more than a few minutes out in the glorious Mexico sun.

The gleam in Ben’s eye as he masters yet another feat of daring in the pool—jumping to me from the side without grasping my fingers tightly the whole time, relying on his floaties without holding onto me or Josh, realizing he can close his eyes and hold his breath in order to put his face in the water, braving the water slide while settled securely on Josh’s lap.

Abby lying still on my chest after first waking in the morning, her limbs falling to both sides of me, her body slack in relaxation.

Ben responding without prompting or coaching, “Si,” when asked if he would like ice cream after dinner--and then trying to mask his pride.

Abby laughing with delight, insisting on going “high in duh sky, agaihn” as I bounce her up and down in the pool.

Ben grinning confidently as we bob in the ocean, not even slightly concerned at the waves pulling and pushing us from and to the shore, the surf occasionally breaking around us and splashing sun-warmed water in our faces.

Josh and Abby playing happily in the ocean, content to hang out—arms around each other—indefinitely, as the pelicans fly and dive around them, the waves rocking them gently back and forth, together.

Ben digging and scooping and pouring and piling and endlessly fabricating small villages and big stories in the warm, course sand.

And smiles. Theirs. Ours. And those of the folks they leave in their wake as they walk confidently and eagerly through the resort in their swimsuits, their little bodies entirely unselfconscious, their sun-kissed cheeks reflecting their anticipation. They elicit response from everyone they pass, our little blonde-headed darlings who carry responsibly their treasure of beach balls and shovels and toys in front of their towel and camera-laden parents.

The gift of vacation, I realize, is not so much in the beauty of our location, though it is breathtaking: the ocean is met on three sides by lush, tropical mountains. To the south of our hotel is a small, local village with villas built into the hillside and plenty of local families enjoying the beach and the abundant fishing and the Mexican music that serenades our time together on the balcony well into each night—loud enough to provide vacation-worthy ambiance without drowning out the constant tumble of salt water six floors below us.

Nor is it in the immaculately kept grounds and rooms of our resort, which provide a lovely, luxurious home away from home.

Neither is it in the flawless hospitality of the servers and wait-staff here, some of whom have already learned our children’s names and greet them warmly at meal times.

The vacation is not about the place at all, really, though Josh’s hours of research and preparation have made this get-away exceptional.

And with two small children in tow, it’s not really about the rest. We’re still “on” ‘round the clock, responsible for keeping these two little people fed, bathed, dressed, rested, and otherwise occupied from morning ‘til bedtime, just as at home. We get a bit of downtime to hang out on the balcony overlooking the ocean during naps and in the evenings, but with kids in tow, even a vacation is still work.

No, what is most glorious about vacation, I’ve realized, is the break from the tension between responsibility to our daily duties and the desire to simply be together as a family. Here, what is most luxuriant and indulgent and wonderful is the ability to enjoy each other all day, every day, without distraction or obligation or rush. We move at the speed of the kids. There is very little “C'mon, let’s go, we need to hurry” here in the land of manana. As long as everyone is wearing something, we can eat, play, and rest at our own pace. No food to prepare. No dishes to clean. No errands to run. No phone calls to return. Just the four of us delighting in each other’s presence from the start of the day to the end. That, above all else, is vacation.

Abby will turn two just a few days after we return home, so I’m pretty certain she won’t remember this trip apart from the photos she sees as she grows up. But I do think she’ll remember in her soul—the way infants know whether they’re loved and can count on being cared for in this world—the warmth and sincerity of our time together. She won’t have visual memories of our times in the pool or at the beach or reading books all together before bed, but I believe she will be permanently imprinted with the time we spent simply sharing the joy of each other.

This trip is really a gift of ourselves—of our time and energy in a life that tends to hurry by with other obligations. So I am soaking up every second of uninterrupted, undistracted fun; taking full advantage of our freedom to live in the moment; devoting every physical, mental, and emotional energy toward these most precious doses of perspective we call Ben and Abby. It is an extraordinary opportunity, this time, and we are making the most of it while it lasts.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin