Anniversary Celebration…with Kids

My husband and I just finished celebrating our thirteenth year of marriage with an extended weekend trip to Mackinac Island. We like to take our kids to the Island every summer but we usually also go away, just the two of us, to celebrate our anniversary. This year we decided to combine the two trips and make it a family celebration. We love the idea in theory. In reality…well…there were moments when we found ourselves questioning the wisdom of foregoing our relaxing adult weekend to instead listen to whining and manage fights.

When I was a kid, I can count the number of times I stayed in a hotel on one hand. There was the one big trip to Mackinaw City with a day trip to the Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Then for a couple of years we spent a weekend in Midland at the Midway Motor Lodge just for fun. When I was in high school, we went to Chicago for a cheerleading competition. That was pretty much it.

Back then, my parents owned a small cottage on a beautiful lake and that is where we spent our summer weekends. I loved it and wouldn’t change it. Because we rarely traveled, those trips seemed like such a big deal. On Mackinac Island I was so grateful that my dad let me get a rabbit’s foot and a box of jumping beans for a souvenir. I remember my mixed feelings as I held that bag of treasure. I was so excited about my purchase, but I also felt guilty knowing the money my parents had spent. I’m not kidding. That is really how I felt.

Things are different for my kids.

I wouldn’t even say that my kids are particularly well traveled, but they’ve definitely been to more places than I had at their age. We are fortunate. I have my summers off and my parents own a larger cottage now. They allow us to spend as much time there as we want. So we go for a few weeks in July and from there, we venture to other destinations in Northern Michigan. July feels like one big extended vacation.

I guess it is no surprise that my children begin to feel entitled to fun and figure everything should be about them. Most of the time, it is. But this weekend, we wanted to be able to have a leisurely dinner or sit on the hotel porch with a glass of wine.

After a particularly irritating round of brother-pick-on-brother, we had to have a sit-down. I laid out my theory that they are suffering from “vacation spoiled-itis.” I contrasted their experiences with mine growing up in an effort to highlight what gratitude might look and feel like. We informed them that we had no intention of having a bad weekend simply because they couldn’t get along. We then explained that there are babysitting options available and we’d be happy to arrange for that. (This is actually true. Mission Pointe offers day camps and we were inches from enrolling them.) Finally, we said in no uncertain terms that this trip was actually NOT about them. In fact, it was about us. It was our anniversary trip and we usually celebrate that on our own.

After they got over the initial shock of this information, they recovered very well. They were sweet and adorable for the rest of the trip. In the end, I’m very glad we brought them. They are a huge part of our what we were celebrating.

As we strolled around the Island, we laughed at the conversations we overheard.

“I told you if you spent all of your money at the first shop you wouldn’t be able to get anything else…”

“If you kids don’t stop whining…”

“No, you’ve already had fudge and popcorn…”

As we observed the pinched faces of parents as their toddlers wailed or teenagers sulked, we knew our situation was not unique. It is the universal experience of parents expecting our kids to stay grounded and grateful while giving them much more than we ever had.

 

Bouncing Back from Blog-Intimidation

I’ve taken a long break from blogging. I could name a simple reason like not having enough time lately. And that might be part of it. But the whole story, like most things in life, is more complicated than that.

An interesting fact you may not know about blogging is that behind the scenes you can find out quite a bit about how your writing is being received. You can see the number of views you’ve had each day, how much time someone spent reading a post, what country he was in and how he was directed to your site. Fascinating statistics. Unless, of course, you begin to over-analyze and become paralyzed by what these stats imply about your writing and, ultimately, you. Continue reading

Swim Lessons: Wisdom Gained Poolside

I’m sure many parents will relate when I say that these days, I spend a significant amount of my life sitting on the sideline watching sports. Before I had children, I imagined this would be a terrific bore. But that is not true. It is a thrill to watch your child participate in a sport, especially when he or she becomes somewhat good at it.

I’ve watched my son become better and better at swimming and it has filled me with parental pride. It has also given me that odd realization that my child is better at something than me. It is obvious at this point that he can out-swim me any day of the week. But recently I realized something even more important. His dedication, determination and mental toughness have also  surpassed my own. Continue reading

10 Things I’m Doing Better After 10 Years of Parenting

Angel_Family_day_2Ten years ago today an amazing thing happened.  I gave birth to my first son.  I would like to say that I was instantly transformed into a mother.  But that would not be true.  The process of becoming worthy of the title took a bit longer.  Unlike many of the instant-moms I’ve talked to, I was initially not sure I knew how to keep a child alive let alone raise him to independence.

Ten years later, I’m happy to say that things have worked out fine.  He’s alive and I am very comfortable with my role as his mom.  And thanks to the guidance…insistence…requirements…of my children, I can say I do many things better today than I was doing them 10 years ago. Continue reading

The Virus That Saved Me

2014 did not end well.  It wasn’t my favorite year to begin with but December was my undoing.

The month began with a terrific betrayal.  The nature of the job that I do means that I have a small circle of trusted colleagues and a few close friends at work.  It is an isolating position but that is part of the job.  It is, in fact, the part of the job that I like the least.  But I always operated under the assumption that I was good at it.  And I believed that, ultimately, by doing good work I would earn the respect of the people I worked with.

That has not always turned out to be the case. Continue reading

Ebola: Is it Time to Worry Yet?

I’ve tried to remain calm.  I’ve tried not to become irrational.  But with each passing day and each escalating news story, my level of concern is raising.  And I’m really wondering, at what point does one’s general feeling of unease turn into alarm.  At what point do you plan to prepare for an Ebola Disaster?

I will guiltily admit that when Ebola was on another continent, I felt much better.  Insulated by miles of ocean and land, I could keep my fears at bay. Continue reading

A Teacher’s (Real) First Day of School Photo

The new school year is almost upon us and, as usual, I’m excited.  I know in a few days my kids will begin a new year of learning and growing and changing.  I love the beginning of the year and especially the very first day.  I know that soon I will be packing their lunches and readying their outfits.  On the morning of the first day, I will make them stand side-by-side with packs on their backs and (fingers crossed) smiles on their faces.  And if they decide to bless me with smiles and an adorable picture, will I post it on Facebook?  Oh, you better believe it.

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t given thought to coordinating outfits and a deserving backdrop for this important photo.  This picture documents the start of their year and it is important enough that I might print it.  It is also likely that it will be posted for all to see so I want it to be worthy.  The First Day is a big deal. Continue reading