I spent this past weekend helping my eldest son pack his stuff up for his big move. While I am so excited for this new chapter in his life and could not be more proud of his accomplishments, I was having a problem shaking my selfish depression on my own new chapter. The one that was going to leave me with one less child to travel with.
A flood of emotions and memories came over me while packing up his room. We have been traveling together since he was a baby, it just would not feel right to travel without him. Early on when the kids were little, we would do fun affordable weekend getaways like the Inner Harbor in Maryland or to Kings Dominion Theme Park in Virginia, but as he grew we started traveling more frequently and further away. I can remember saving change in a jar when he was just seven years old in order to get our family down to Orlando for our first real family vacation. I can remember shopping for matching clothes for him and his siblings to wear while we were away on vacation. I remember all of those times of rubbing endless amounts of sunscreen on the kids, buying plastic pirate swords for sword fights, and needing to run back to the hotel room for naps when they got grouchy. I remember at times thinking how unfair it was that the lady next to me at the pool was able to read a book by herself in peace while I had to play Marco Polo with the kids. I sit here and think to myself, I just wish I knew it would be over so fast. If I could just have another day in the pool with them again. People always tell you "Enjoy it while you can, it goes way to fast", but you do not truly understand it until it actually happens to you.
If you really think about it there are only a limited amount of years our kids are under our care before we set them free. I read somewhere that if you actually count it up, there are only about 18 summers you get to spend with your children before they go out in the world on their own. I can tell you first hand how quickly this time can sneak up on you and there is no way to get it back no matter how painful it can be. I took some time to look through our photo albums yesterday to remind myself of all the great memories I have been lucky enough to create with my son during our years traveling together.
So many people 'wait' for the right time to take a vacation. They 'wait' for their kids to be older, they 'wait' until they are more established, they 'wait' until school is out and so on. I was so lucky that I never waited. We did not have an extra dime when we started traveling and I just did it a little at a time, as the kids grew I took them out of school to travel and never waited until a 'better' time. Today as I say goodbye to my son as he moves onto his new adult life I am so thankful I have so many amazing memories to look back on. I am thankful I was smart enough not to ever wait and I was thankful I took the trip every single time. Make sure you are busy creating all of those memories while your children are still young and at home with you, they are only little once.
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