Sunday was spent in branch leadership meetings, calling to remind investigators that church started at 10:30, running from metro to metro stop to "pick up" investigators and help them find the church, teaching the Gospel Essentials Sunday School class, giving impromptu talks, pretending to accompany the hymns on the piano (for both Sacrament and Relief Society meetings), visiting those people who missed church, etc. Thatwas all before 4:00! Sunday was a very long day. Was I missing something? The Lord thought it significant enough to make keeping the Sabbath Day holy one of the 10 commandments - and yet, here I was, apparently ignoring this all-important commandment - and as a missionary, no less! Everyone knows that Sunday is NOT celebrated properly without a long and restorative nap. Not only was I deprived, but the day was far more work than any other day of the week. I was cheated.
Luckily, a bit more than a year later, I was home, and able to take advantage of all the Sabbath had to offer - at least until my kids were born. I guess there's more to it than the actual rest part.
Which brings me to the present. Recently I told John that I needed a break. I needed to get out of the urban jungle in which we live. I wanted to commune with nature, and spend quality time with my family. The answer, I thought, was a family vacation.
We haven't had a lot of family vacations since we've been married - I mean, a few here or there, mostly to visit our parents - but not a lot of just "us" time, doing "our" thing. Growing up, I always visited Lake Tahoe with my family. Or, we'd go camping. We even went to Hawaii once. It was great. I loved family vacations. And so, with enthusiasm, I announced it was high time to have one of our own. There was only one thing missing: my parents.
Vacations were great, I've since learned, because my parents planned them. My dad made lists of every item we might need, plus 93 that we probably wouldn't, but would take anyway. He packed the car. My mom planned meals and made grocery lists targeted to be inexpensive and involve minimal preparation and cleanup. As soon as we arrived, she hit the grocery store. Together, they unpacked the car. Each day they presented us with our itineray. They got up early to make sure we were ready, sat awake with us when we were unhappy in unfamiliar beds, and discovered perfect activities for the age-span in our family. When we got home, Mom did the laundry, Dad aired out the tent...I think we were in charge of unpacking our own suitcases?
Oh where, or where, were my parents on my vacation?
Sometimes, being the parents is not fun. And vacations are a lot harder and tiring than I ever remember them being. They aren't very relaxing at all.
I don't entirely loathe family vacations. We did a lot of great stuff, and the kids had a blast. We slept in a small cabin; I felt like Laura Ingalls, except with air conditioning and a furnace (we used both). Luckily for me, I remembered my Ambien. There's something about sleeping in a small room, and a smaller bed (with broken springs) and a toddler in a pack-and-play six inches away, that is not sleep inducing. We watched the sun rise as we read book after book to aforementioned toddler in hopes of keeping her from waking up her sisters. By daylight we visited Ohio State Parks Lake Hope and Hocking Hills.
hiked Old Man's Cave and Cedar Falls,
visited nature centers, roasted hot dogs and s'mores (NOT fingers, though some made a valiant effort), fed deer, ate at an Amish Kitchen buffet (feel free to skip this if you're in the area),
swam among the turtles and fish in the lake,
attempted vainly to handfeed hummingbirds, picnicked,
and even "toured" a small town where John has been offered a position in the future (I am not - repeat NOT - moving there).
Our "vacation" was nearly two weeks ago, and I'm still trying to decide if it was a success. I'm not yet caught up on the sleep lost (even on Ambien, it was rough) and I wonder if it was worth it. While we did get away, and spent a lot of time in nature - it wasn't exactly the relaxing, rejuvenating, Kumbaya type of experience I'd fantasized about. But it was good. We laughed. We cried. We exposed the kids to parts of our world that they hadn't experienced, and encouraged them to do things they weren't sure they could manage. We were proud of our little family, even the littlest member. She was (mostly) a trooper.
So I've been thinking - the problem, like the Sabbath on my mission, wasn't the experience; it's the syntax. In Madrid, I did not participate in the Sabbath Day of Rest; I participated in an extra-special day to serve the Lord. A week ago, we did not go on a vacation. (I NEED a vacation.) We went on a family adventure. That is much more accurate, and takes away the feeling of coming up short. I liked it. I had fun.
And, I've turned into my mother.