Living in the moment is what I've been trying to do more of, given how fleeting life continues to prove it can be. I simply can't expect that I'm going to live to my mom's ripe old age of 97 (come July 28). Granted, I'm about 40 years younger, but if I don't get moving, I could be looking back with a host of "should've would've could'ves" haunting me.
Keeping that in mind, I became motivated to actually do what I've been telling myself repeatedly that I want to do. Taking a vacation with my adult children (ages 21 - 26) was at the top of the list.
So in the spirit of enjoying one another, I tossed around all sorts of destinations that would be conducive to a several-day getaway. My thoughts jumped from the unusual (dude ranch) to the glitzy (cruise), but all that Internet research left me longing for what had been our annual vacation spot for many of the kids' early years - almost right in our back yard: Ocean City, New Jersey.
My kids reacted excitedly when I told them, and while I'd guess that they were looking forward to daytime at the beach, nighttime on the boardwalk complete with ice cream, caramel corn and fudge - Who am I kidding? I was too! - I was driven by something even more compelling than sheer indulgence...time together.
It didn't take long for us to pick up at our happy place right where we left off, with a seemingly short hiatus separating then and now, and yet there were also dramatic changes for all of us that marked a rather significant passing of time.
For starters, the first day at the beach, I was getting sea sick watching the perpetual motion of the young mother with her three little kids on the blanket next to ours. I actually had to re-position my chair to turn away from them, as it was difficult to watch her run after the youngest one, hour after hour, while tending to the needs of the other two as well. How on earth she didn't pass out from exhaustion was beyond me. Twenty years ago, I was that mom, and those were my kids.
I wanted to shout out, "Hang in there! They will grow up - Look at mine!" but boy, she had a long way to go before she'd actually be able to enjoy a "vacation" with the kids.
Reminders of the transformation that had taken place since our last stay in OC continued. At lunch the next day when I reached for my wallet, the two older kids announced that they're treating me. Even though each has offered individually in the past, planning together to do something nice for me made the gesture even more meaningful. The little one - a senior in college - was also surprised and voiced displeasure that she was left out of the equation, but she put herself back in by insisting that she leave the tip.
They also offered to help me carry the blanket, towels and chairs each day, threw into our beach bag drinks and snacks for each other, echoed sunscreen reminders throughout our stay, suggested I might want to wait till after dinner to have my ice cream cone (I didn't) and my older daughter initiated dialogue with the front desk manager to rectify our sleeper sofa problem.
All the kids thanked me for the trip, but my oldest one texted me later on that night to say, among other things, that he is so appreciative for the fun break from the stresses and daily grind of work.
Are these the same kids who ran me ragged on the beach?
Yes, they are, just a moment ago, or so it seems.