We are home from vacation, and so naturally need a vacation.
Except not, because it really was very nice. Other than a few incidents of screaming toddlers, everyone was really very good. We also just took it easy, because that’s what our family needed.
And I did laundry there, before we came back, and everyone just unpacked and put it away, and I am laundry free for a week. Or a few days. So there.
My favorite moments of vacation were these:
Once, we were on a treasure hunt. Instead of driving to the biggest playground, we walked there, and along the way I had them find items they had to count. Part of our walk was over a hill, and at one point the baby (who is eighteen months, we now know, not fourteen) fell. She was fine, and in no danger of rolling down the hill, but Five ran to her rescue and said, “it’s okay, baby! Take a breath and you will be fine. I will dust you off. We will stand you up. Where is your little happy face, baby?” He did it in the most tender sing-song voice, and wasn’t intrusive at all – as soon as she stood back up, he let her go and she kept on going. I was so proud of him! He really had some breakthroughs in the last week, finally understanding he is the leader of the pack (for better or for worse), rather than regressing to their ages by trying to act like them. I am so relieved, and he has become a huge help to all of us. It really is nurturing a strength he has, this intuitive compassion he has. It reminds me a lot of Nathan’s mom, even though I know Five is such a boy it makes her crazy sometimes. They are a lot alike, though, in the good ways, and it gives me such hope for who he can become. I know that means, too, that he is picking up pieces of Nathan into himself, and really becoming part of our family in new ways. It’s an amazing thing to watch, and makes me grateful that Nathan’s mother raised him so well so that not only do I have an incredible husband, truly, but I have confidence in the gifts passed on to my children (even if they must choose who to become).
One day the kids actually all took naps, at the same time. This is pretty much a miracle, as any parent knows, as even when you have three toddlers (all six months apart), even if they all need naps, it doesn’t always happen at the same time. Nathan and I found ourselves with two whole hours all to ourselves, and it was glorious. We sat on the back patio, in the autumn breeze, overlooking the wooded hills, writing in parallel play. It was just like our honeymoon, and one of the best anniversary moments we had this week. I worked on Hebrew and my talk that’s coming up, and Nathan worked on The Giver musical and another project. It was so delightful, and so exactly what we needed. I cannot tell you how those quiet moments together filled us up and relaxed us and nourished our spirits. It was an afternoon we sorely needed, and I was grateful.
I love also the moments when I get to see Nathan being a father. The children adore him, and love to be helpers. When we arrived at the cabin, he pulled things out of the van and they ran it up to the room. When we were packing up, they ran everything down and “helped” him load the van again. He was so patient, even when their help was not always helpful. Because of my medical issues, I could not ride rides at Silver Dollar City, I could stay with the toddlers while Nathan rode rides with the older two. I loved watching them scamper from ride to ride, the looks of sheer exuberance on their faces during each experience, and the funny games they played in line with them. He is so creative, and the kids so much more alive than when they first came here, almost like different children. One afternoon the baby and the toddler were throwing such fits they did not get to go on the day’s outing, so Nathan sent back pictures of the kids from a play, from a hayride, and from some railing someplace where he had taught them how to plank! I laughed so hard! After the kids “worked hard” last night, taking out the things we didn’t need for church this morning so that the van could be packed already, he rewarded them with carmel apples!
There were other great moments, like me having two phone interviews (my first ones ever – one a radio interview about my article about talking to your children about Ebola, and one was with Salt Lake about getting called to be authorized as a chaplain), meeting with the Southwards at Silver Dollar City of all places, that time the toddler sang “Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Girl” in the public bathroom during dinner, getting notes and treatment plans finished, me and the kids having an official pajama day (yes, you still need clean underwear and brushed teeth for pajama days), and seeing my brother and his family at church today.
The best moment of all, though, I think, was last night: all the kids were exhausted enough to go to bed without a fuss, and stay there,
and Nathan and I got a real date night and talked for hours. I am so glad he is my best friend, and I love creating with him. There are so many things we know we are being asked to do, so much we have already been asked to do, and so many things we want to do and are getting to watch slowly evolve and unfold. It’s an amazing process, and I am glad he is with me on this journey.
I am also really glad to be home, and back in our little routine of work and school and play.
It’s happiness, you know, even if we are a mess and our lives chaotic and our success at it all never quite what we had imagined.
That’s why I am glad it is him I married, because of the happiness factor.
He was (is) the exact one I needed, and exactly perfect for me.
I see him pray every morning across the bed while I pray, and study his scriptures while I study mine, and then he prays with me, and then we pray with the children individually, and then we read scriptures with them, we pray as a family before we leave for the day, and then it all happens over again in the evenings. I see him bless their heads and mine, and I see him talk with them about their choices and who they want to become. I see him teach them to imagine and create and appreciate beauty and make music and make up stories and play games. I see him tickle them and hug them and read to them and sing with them and change diapers and run errands and make grocery money and help the boys get dressed and do buttons and zip jackets and tie shoes and brush their hair. I feel his hand in mine, and hear him check on me to be sure I am okay, and feel him steady me on the stairs. I see worlds in his eyes, and I know he was the right choice.
That’s why vacation is awesome, because you get to pick what to work on and play a whole lot and rest even more.
And it does you good, renewing your mind and refreshing your spirit and making you whole again.
Unless you take five kids that may or may not belong to you, then it’s just hard work.
But really – just as worth it.