The family and I just came home from a long and involved vacation to Washington State. We flew with the kids to Seattle for a few nights and then rented a car and drove to an island off of the coast for a few more days. We had family there waiting for us, as this happens to be where Justin’s family has many roots and we all traveled back to celebrate the life of a dear loved one, gone far too soon.
We spent many days playing in the water and on the beaches, and the nights roasting marshmallows in the fire pit on the patio. Stories were told and many memories shared as we came together and bonded in a way that we hadn’t done quite that intimately before. When I think about family gatherings and the kind of moments I want my children to remember about their childhood, this past week was a shining example of that. With a larger immediate group of family members like we have, the chances for things to go awry is pretty high. In fact, four out of six of us got fairly sick on this particular vacation and we still pulled through quite well. It’s just those kind of circumstances that made this trip brilliant because each of us rose to the occasion and pulled our own weight just when we needed to. The big kids played board games together when Evangeline needed me and she entertained herself well when the big kids needed us. Learning to cope with certain circumstances is such a huge part of life, that when we’re actually left to our own devices really wonderful things can happen if we let it.
Removing ourselves from our normal routine and surroundings is such a palate cleanser for everyone. Although we were staying in a home that we had rented on the island, we each had to find ways to address our needs when our normal mainstays were absent: We didn’t have cable or our friends or toys. We (ahem, I) didn’t even have the stash of candy to dig out on particularly challenging nights. The easiest thing of all that often many of us don’t realize is how to utilize each other to make the best of any situation. We laughed until tears seeped out of the sides of our eyes and wiped them when the grief spilled over, too. Spending this time with our loved ones in a new place was refreshing and filled our hearts full to the brim, and we didn’t need anything else to fill in the gaps.
It’s Alcohol Responsibility Month, and it also happens to be responsibility.org’s 25th anniversary. I partnered with The Foundation for Alcohol Responsibility because I want to reinforce that it’s so important to make good decisions around young people, and that we as adults are showing our coping mechanisms whether or not we want to. Responsibility starts with me (and Justin, and the rest of the adults in our kids’ lives). It’s up to us to set a good example and to engage in meaningful conversation about alcohol consumption. Ten years ago it was easy for me to turn to beer or wine when when I had a bad day, and Justin and I still do on some nights but we are careful about the language we use around it, and around the children. It’s so important to me that they know that they have most of their own tools to help overcome a challenging situation emotionally or logistically, and that turning to substance isn’t on their radar. This trip was beautiful and challenging in so many ways, but we all experienced the best of each other and learned to work though the hard parts together, and that’s the most important part.