Should I stay or should I go? I gaze into my crystal ball fishbowl looking for an answer. The orange goldfish that has sunrises and sunsets dancing in my head looks back at me with eyes wide open. The fortune teller in me predicts that a vacation means rest, relaxation and a well-deserved reboot of my life. The parent in me says good luck with that! I am a warrior at being a worrier.
Back in the day my mother and father simply packed up the car at 5 AM on a Saturday morning in July and drove down the Garden State Parkway South for our standard two week vacation at the shore. No passports or airports were needed, and since I was an only child it was traveling made easy. This truly was the repeat of a broken record and I loved every minute of it. I was privy to no other vacation destinations until I met my traveling man.
My husband has introduced me to endless summer possibilities over the years. Our family favorite is the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas. It was so easy to look at the near empty calendar and plan a trip with our five children—diapers, clothes, strollers done. When the kids were younger I used to pack suitcases with an assortment of juice boxes, cereals, snacks and a backpack full of bread and jars of peanut butter and jelly for our plane rides. Security meant I could feed many growling stomachs for less! Today as we look to take flight we are subject to delays, whether by land, sea, or air. I look Heavenward and pray, not necessarily for good weather, but more so for siblings that can sync up their work schedules with our tentative vacation ideas.
It is not so much that my kids are committed to their jobs, but rather that they sprouted and grew up. And now that my offspring have sprung their mouths are always open and the words spewing out like a sprinkler are less than commendable. I am forced to resort not at a tropical island or Europe or the Grand Canyon, but a last minute booking at the Jersey shore. I sign on the dotted line and send in the check to the realtor two weeks before the rental date. I hang my shingle out on the front of the house and announce that Mom’s Liberty Travel Home Office is Open for business. Like a child I cross my fingers and toes in a pretend sandbox and deal with conflict after conflict on a one-on-one basis.
This summer one son has already gone to the Dominican Republic, another flew off to Hawaii, a third is taking days off to spend at the homes of various friends, and a daughter is willing to come with the family for half the week, but then wants to leave and drive up to Cape Cod. When I close for the day I am left holding a mixed bag of excuses. I ponder the staycation we had last year, concluding it is not in our best interests to deprive myself and my husband of a much needed change of scenery. However, faced with the possibility of leaving adult children home alone to engage in their own downtime amusements leaves me sitting on the edge of my seat and gripping the handlebars of this newly constructed Stiles Family thrill ride.