photo credit: Jessica Seymour
Vacations, in whatever form or wherever the destination is, are often comprised of a unique, but all too common, mix of excitement, pure joy, exhaustion and utter frustration (aka annoyance). Sure, it can be stressful when it’s just you and your spouse on a vacation (if you are lucky enough to do so), but throw in a kid or two or five, and it’s a whole different ballgame. You likely wonder if spending all the time, money and effort is really worth it when dealing with a tired, cranky or completely ungrateful child (or spouse). Will your memories of this trip be less than for what you hoped, leaving you to question if you’ll ever go on another family vacation again?
We recently went on a two-week family trip through seven states, literally using trains, planes and automobiles to move our little family from one place to another. Much of this time was spent trying to cram as much sightseeing as we could through four national parks, but we also managed to take in two cities, a giant mall and some much needed face-to-face time with a close friend and her family. And, like I previously mentioned, I occasionally questioned my sanity of living out of eight bags and suitcases for 13 days in eight different rooms and modes of transportation. I especially thought this after the hundredth plea of “Are we there, yet? Can we go now? Not another picture! I’m bored. I’m tired. Can I play with my kindle?”
However, an interesting thing happened between these rough moments of parenting and adulting. As we gazed out upon the magnificent landscape and the beauty that our Creator has designed and formed on this earth, our annoyances and frustrations with each other seemed to be miraculously minimized … even if just for a moment. You realize that nature and all it encompasses is the largest and grandest cathedral that has even been made, a truly sacred thing. No man-made structure, including the Mall of America, can even come close to what God has done. You find yourself never wanting to leave, because the moment will end. And, seeing your child excitedly walk through snow in the middle of June or standing in awe over watching a baby moose calf nurse from his mother in the cool quiet of the evening, bonds your family in a way that you didn’t expect.
I found that I desperately wanted to capture all these experiences permanently, but on a measly old model iPhone, it felt next to impossible. So many times, I wished to have a fancy camera with fancy lenses so that I could attempt to convey what it was like to see with my own eyes, to feel what I felt. Even then, I wondered if you can ever truly grasp the essence of being in a place where God’s creation and its magnificence is almost physically overwhelming. Or even to show the deep, sweet long-distance friendship between two moms and their children as they visit in a local town park.
Though I may not have been able to fully capture it all, I do know one thing, cherished memories may fade with time, but they never die if we hold on to them in whatever manner we can. Having my iPhone photos of my daughter playing with her friends, my husband and daughter hiking a trail to a rushing waterfall, or our family standing in front of the majestic Teton Range is just enough to keep those memories alive in our hearts for years to come. They are reminders of how we overcame the annoying and frustrating parts of family vacations and, instead, chose to focus on the pure joy and excitement of being together on this earth.
And, yes, we will be doing it all over again, with hopefully a slightly different attitude of thankfulness, patience and joy.
Jessica Seymour is a 30-something mom to super smart and sassy 8-year-old and wife to a witty scientist. She is currently attempting to let go of her fear of failure and rejection so that she can figure out “what color her parachute is” and live out her potential and dreams. Jessica likes to garden, eat, exercise (because she loves to eat, and spend way too much time on Facebook reading the comment section).