Today is my oldest son's 12th birthday, and represents the end of the usual December scramble in our family. With three birthdays and Christmas all in one month, trying to fit it all in while making each person feel special and celebrated is no small task. I know I should love it, but truthfully I'm relieved it's coming to an end ~ which is kind of sad.
Last night my 10 and 8 year old were getting into their seemingly daily argument and I had to intervene. They share a room, a love of competition, and a need to get under each other's skin. I tried to explain to them that I know deep down they would do anything for each other, and they agreed if someone was coming after their brother they would...well, we really don't need to get into details, do we?
Here are the culprits, enjoying an ice cold root beer after a baseball game.
But I started to tell them that they really only have to put up with each other full-time for about eight more years, then they ~ GULP ~ eight more years??? So, wait, Matthew will only be around here for six more years? And Michael for eight? And George for ten? Then I will just have one at home? For only five more after that??? Wasn't I just holding them in my arms? Eight more years? Why didn't someone tell me this would be so short? So I only have six more Decembers with them all in the house?
The relief that had washed over me moments ago with December coming to an end has now turned into panic. I have come to love this organized chaos that we call home, and I can't imagine it without any one of them! I know, I know, the birthdays and celebrations will continue. They'll come home from college (and may even move back in for periods of time after that), but these years of us all being together are moving too fast. As my mom says, we are living the best time of our family life right now, when we can lock the doors at night and know that our kids are tucked safely in bed.
I'm just not ready yet. When someone mentions 1992 I feel like it was just five years ago, not 20. Eight years is nothing, and the busier we get, the faster it goes.
Family photo from Christina's wedding a few years ago. They clean up nice, don't they?
So what does this have to do with travel? Nothing, and everything. I travel a lot, but the last time my family all got on a plane together was nine years ago, and I only had two kids. It's just so expensive for a family to travel, so we haven't. But we will. This year, I'm making it a priority. I'm saving for it. I'm working towards it. I will not let these few years slip by without our family enjoying each other in a destination that's new and different, to take us out of our routines and daily annoyances, to really leave it all behind and just get silly.
So I'm telling you to travel as a family. And I know times are tough. And I know it would be nice to get a newer car this year and that the roof needs repairing. I know travel is seen as a luxury and not a necessity. I know it falls to the bottom of the priority list because it has on mine, too. But I regret that. I could have made coffee at home every day and not gotten a $4.89 latte. We could have eaten out one less time each week and put that money away. Eventually that stuff does add up, and even if it means going somewhere once every two or three years, it's better than not at all.
I've been to a lot of places. I know all the fanciest resorts to take your kids where you'll all be entertained every minute of the day, and if you have the money for that then that is simply excellent. Go for it! They are truly amazing experiences. But if you don't, and you've been setting aside $50 each paycheck until you have enough saved, I also know of some more modest places that offer wonderful family experiences because I have been to them, checking them out for you, and someday soon, for me and my family too.
So, travel. Move it up the list. Set your goal and work towards it. Don't let these few years that you still have your kids' attention pass you by. Before you know it they will have careers, families, and responsibilities of their own, and it will be more and more difficult for you all to get together. Now is the time. Carpe diem. Do something you'll never forget, and will never regret. See the world together.
Give the kids a pool and some slides and they are happy! Who wouldn't be?
Have a wonderful and blessed New Year!