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Mary Oves
Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Mary Oves
The urge to travel vs. the need to parent

I love to travel. I think I live to travel.

I work and live in anticipation of my next trip. I love experiencing different areas, smelling different air, eating different food. On the way home from one vacation we're already talking about the next one. The best memories of my life, other than those of my wedding and the birth of my children, are of vacation.

There was the sea turtle in Key West. The flatulent horse in Arizona. The moped in Bermuda. The thong contest in the Bahamas (no, I was NOT entered). The pier in Huntington Beach. The bed and breakfast in Vermont. The North Shore. These aren't just memories, they are permeable appendages through which my life is filtered. Every new travel experience makes me who I am.

I haven't traveled the world yet. My travel log is limited to some really cool states in the U.S. buffered with the occasional island jaunt. But I want to see Australia, Africa, and Europe, of course. I want to rent a houseboat on Lake Mead. The rooms have waterslides outside their windows; you can slide down to breakfast.

When children are young, vacation destinations are limited. Moms and Dads choose trips to Disney for their kid-friendly amenities, and once children have been spoiled by Disney, it's hard to go back. Parents want safe resorts with hotel pools, comfy beds and chicken fingers. We want movie nights, and activity rooms, and lifeguards. We want to get them home in one piece.

Then they get older, and we start feeling like we can experiment a little, be a little bolder. Yeah, the Dominican for two weeks, sounds good!

But as the kids grew up, their schoolwork became more than just two plus two equals four. A day out from school, and the teachers send home a mountain of work. I pulled my kids out of school last year for three days, and I'm not sure it was worth it. They made up what they missed. But what they couldn't make up was the explanation they missed on the group project. The computer presentation by the visiting teacher. The test review for the test they would have to take the day they got back. And we flew in late, so they were tired, and jet lagged. All that just to have an extra day at a waterpark. It just wasn't worth it.

And sports. Coaches want kids for practice on the weekend, and for holiday tournaments. It's hard to not be selfish, but it's their time now, not ours. It's time for us to drive them to sporting events seven days a week without complaining about how it's affecting our vacation time.

Our traveling is curtailed temporarily, and we're sad. But this happens in life. And it's also good. We have been thinking of different ways to enjoy our home locally. And over the Christmas break, we will be taking little day trips to Philadelphia and Washington to learn about different places, to breathe different air and eat different food.

Last year in South Carolina, one of our favorite days was spent at the beach and riding bikes. Later we went swimming in the hotel pool, and got lunch at a cute little bistro with the greatest cappuccino ever. We rented a funny video and ordered pizza.

What a great day.

Last week I took my sons to the beach to run the dog. We rode bikes on the boardwalk to our local community center. We swam in the pool, then enjoyed lunch at their brand new bistro. I sipped cappuccino as the boys wolfed down salads and sandwiches, and talked about the day. We walked over to the library where we rented a funny video, then went home to order pizza and watch the movie.

What a great day.



 

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