My kids and I took a mini-vacation last week. Several days before our departure for a small cabin rental in Tennessee, it occurred to me that this would be our first overnight adventure with just the four of us. In the four years since the divorce, my revised nuclear family had never taken a solo trip without extended family or friends.
We were overdue for a getaway.
Vacationing in the midst of a global pandemic may not sound ideal, but in a lot of ways it made the whole affair so much easier. I picked a rental that was under two hours away, removing the need for pit stops along the way. We packed all our food, cooked in the cabin, and didn’t see another human the entire time we were there. Easy on the budget and on the logistics!
I think sometimes it’s easy to imagine an idealized version of ourselves (and the world) when we plan vacations. We think that we’ll be more energetic and more adventurous. Or that we’ll suddenly enjoy new pastimes that we never cared for before. My children will get along, it will never rain, and the entire trip will be a series of Hallmark card moments with perfect lighting.
In reality, it was just us – with all our flaws and quirks – but it turns out that “just us” is pretty great too. First, the reality check. There were squabbles over who slept in which bed. My youngest child still won’t eat chili, even when it is prepared in a cute woodsy cabin. Mosquitoes don’t respect personal boundaries in Tennessee any better than they do in Kentucky. I still like the idea of hiking better than the reality of hiking. We lost the rental house key five minutes before departure – finding it only after arriving back home. (How, I ask you, did it wind up IN the cooler??)
There was an epic moment of inter-sibling warfare that will remain vague here but will surely go down in the annals of Snyder Family History, hopefully becoming funnier as time passes.
Several members of the family took a clothing-optional approach to our isolated surroundings, although this lifestyle choice was not appreciated by all. I was pointedly informed one evening that it was “weird” to be cooking while not wearing pants.
But it was still perfect. To the kids, the small, unassuming cabin was something straight out of a fairytale. They marveled at the wrap-around deck, complete with hammock and beautiful view. They scurried up a wooden ladder into a very cramped loft and played for hours. We drank fizzy lemonade out of wine glasses and ate mini donuts for breakfast. And lunch.
There was a hot tub on the deck. Need I say more?
I let go of my hang-ups about screen time and we watched a bunch of movies, pausing to play cards or do a quick hike to the river. My oldest child and I made a pact to turn off our phones upon arrival and that decision allowed us to be wonderfully present with each other.
The change of scenery was exactly what we needed, four and a half months into the realities of social distancing. Somehow physically distancing ourselves – even though our daily activities weren’t all that different from when we’re home – gave us the break and rejuvenation we needed. We hope to do another mini trip this fall and I can’t wait.