Vacations are hard. “What?” you might say. “Vacations are wonderful, vacations are fun, vacations are time away, vacations are family time!” Yes they are all of those things, but they are also hard, and because they are all of those things it is hard to admit that they are hard. It sounds so ungrateful, such a “first world problem.” I am not talking about the usual mom complaints of “vacations are so much work!” or “I need a vacation to recover from our vacation.” I am talking about emotionally hard.
I am so blessed to be able to go on vacations. For a single mom with little income I get to go on vacations way more than seems possible. In this last year, I have gone to my sisters in Santa Barbara, camping in Yosemite, camping at the beach – twice, and multiple day and overnight trips to Mineral King. The year before included trips to New Hampshire, Virginia, Arizona, and New Mexico. Many of these trips are with my parents, which is what makes them possible financially. I love traveling, I love road trips, I love camping, I love hiking, I love getting to share that love with my boy and watching him explore new things. It is wonderful.
“So what could be hard about that?” you ask. While vacations are all those wonderful things, they are also a painful reminder of the fact that I am alone.
In my daily life I have gotten pretty good at being alone or at least pretty used to it. It is just the boy and I, we do our thing and life is good. The feeling that things should be different, that something is missing, has faded, or maybe I have learned to ignore it in the face of everyday life. But on vacation it isn’t life as usual. Life is slower; it is filled with special moments. All around, families and couples are enjoying their time together. And in the midst of all the vacation happiness, loneliness creeps in.
It is not that I don’t enjoy spending time with my son, or watching his joy as he discovers something new on the beach, I do. But there is a part of me that wants someone to share those moments of family time and discovery with me. Someone who knows what I am thinking when I look up from my son with a smile, who holds MY hand when we walk down the beach, who shows ME something special. Someone who stays up and talks and laughs with me after the boy has gone to bed. Someone who will help me remember these days when the boy is no longer a boy.
I try to fight the loneliness, to be present, and enjoy the moment. With time and intention vacations have gotten a little easier. But there is still nothing I can do to stop that part of my heart from longing for the day that I can share them with someone.