Expecting Decadence

By Diane Stark

Expecting Decadence

I grew up in a large family where family vacations were a big deal. We went somewhere every single summer, but because there were six of us, we drove everywhere we went: In our green station wagon with the wood paneling on the sides.

One summer, we drove from Indiana to New Mexico to visit my Aunt Betty. Another year, we drove from Indiana to Mount Rushmore. We went up to Vermont and down to Branson. And we headed to Florida many, many times.

Because there were six of us, we not only drove everywhere, but we brought our own snacks. No expensive fast food stops or unhealthy gas station fare for our family. Nope, my mom sat in the front seat with a cooler at her feet. The cooler held ice, ham sandwiches and fresh fruit. She also had a two liter of Pepsi and plastic cups.

So essentially, my dad drove the old station wagon while my mom played waitress to my siblings and me. We kept her hopping with our food and drink requests. In addition to her waitressing duties, she also got to referee our arguments. And I won’t even mention the stomach bug we caught on the way home from one trek.

Once a year, on my parents’ anniversary, they left us kids with Grandma and Grandpa and went away by themselves for the weekend. Although I enjoyed playing with my cousins, I never understood why my parents would want to be alone when they could be with us.

But now, after 15 years of parenting, I totally get it. I am now the mother in a large family who drives for all family vacations. We don’t own a woody station wagon – thank goodness – but our seven-passenger SUV gets a workout every summer.

While on vacation, we do usually splurge for fast food meals, so I am not doling out ham sandwiches like my mom. I am in charge of the snacks, as well as the arguments, which are both plentiful in a car full of five kids for five hours at a stretch. Unless someone has to potty, which also happens more than we’d like.

Family vacations are certainly fun, but sometimes, they just aren’t that relaxing.

The sad fact is that being on vacation with children isn’t a whole lot different than being at home with them. You do all the same things. You just do it in a more exotic locale.

Sometimes, vacationing with my kids just doesn’t feel like a vacation should. I rarely get to lie on the beach and soak up the rays. Instead, I build sand castles and jump through the waves and watch the tiny little crabs dig back under the sand. It’s fun, but it’s not relaxing. Upon returning home, I often feel like I need a vacation from our family vacation.

When my husband and I go on vacation by ourselves, we sleep in and take naps. We lie on the beach and catch up on our reading. We hold hands without a kid trying to wedge in between us. We eat yummy food that I didn’t have to cook. We do exactly what we want to do every single minute.

It’s not just relaxing. It’s downright decadent.

In October, I will be taking a family vacation of a different variety. I am going on a cruise with my mom, my sister and my sister-in-law. We are flying, not driving, to Miami to catch a quick three-day jaunt to the Bahamas.

This is not our first trip together. Four years ago, we took a four-day shopping trip to the Mall of America in Minneapolis. But that time, we took our kids with us, and two of them were toddlers at the time. We took the kids to the amusement park in the middle of the mall. We bought stuffed animals at Build a Bear. We ate at kid-friendly restaurants.

It was definitely fun, but it also fell into the not-so-relaxing category. We still had to change diapers and cut chicken nuggets into toddler-size bites. We still had to wipe tears and settle arguments. I did the same things I do at home, but in a different location. I became a stay-at-home mom at the Mall of America.

But this trip is different. It’s an adults-only, girls-only cruise.

Like my heavenly vacations with my hubby, I am expecting decadence, but of a different type. There will still be beaches and yummy food. But I am also expecting shopping and girl talk, two things my husband doesn’t enjoy all that much.

Although our trip is still months away, I am beyond excited about it. I’ve been on two cruises with just my husband. We’ve taken our children on a cruise. And last spring break, we even went on a cruise with our kids and both sets of grandparents. But this will be different.

This is Girl Time. It’s like Me Time, but with three of my very best friends.

Yep, I’m definitely expecting decadence.

About this writer

  • Diane Stark Diane Stark is a wife and mom of five. She loves to write about her family and her faith. Her essays have been published in over 20 Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

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2 Responses to “Expecting Decadence”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Diane,
    Those family vacations always sound better than they actually are. I remember going on camping trips, and thinking, WHY am I doing dishes outside under a water faucet? This is no vacation! But we sure made memoires. Hope you have a wonderful fall trip!

  2. Jody says:

    I have one child and still our first vacation when she was just 2 was not-really-a-vacation…especially on the flight when she threw her crayons and kicked the grouchy gentleman’s seat in front of her. Thankfully, once we arrived, things went much smoother!

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