Enjoying deserved vacation
I was crowned the Queen of Sloth, the Duchess of Downtime last week, and I loved every moment of it.
I knew I needed a vacation well before we started packing, but it wasn’t clear exactly how much until we’d been in Florida a few days and I realized how much I’d been sleeping.
I often whine about continual sleep deprivation. Homeschooling three active boys, squeezing in freelance writing during breaks and into the wee hours, working face-painting and cake-baking gigs, volunteering, all while mothering a night-waking toddler has left me perpetually exhausted. When I do sneak a nap, I feel terribly guilty. There are always dozens of things that need doing, and I’ve bought the lie that a good mom would do them instead of resting.
But last week on vacation, my husband and parents were there to help with the kids and they just let me sleep. And, oh how I slept! I stayed in bed every day until 11, and napped with Jonah in the afternoons — sometimes for two or three hours.
I was astonished by the quantity and depth of my rest. I felt like a dehydrated sponge just soaking myself in slumber and it was divinely refreshing.
I didn’t spend the entire week in bed. We split our time between West Palm Beach and Cocoa Beach in Florida, but instead of the usual frantic hustling from activity to activity, even our recreation was low-key.
We swam in cool blue pools and in the warm summer sea. We dug in the sand alongside the boys and made puddles and canals, and castles with moats. We went to the pier and watched the boats come in as schools of shiny silver fish congregated in the water beneath us, hoping that we would drop them a morsel of something good.
We lamented over missing the city’s July 4 fireworks, only to come upstairs and see that some considerate soul was setting off a pretty amazing show on the beach. It was like having front-row seats to an awesome fireworks display and instead of being scared by the big pops and booms, my little toddler clapped and squealed with each brilliant burst of red, white and blue.
Long after the fireworks ended, my middle boy, Eli, remained out on the balcony with me. We tipped back our chairs and stared at the star-studded, black velvet sky, looking for shooting stars and talking about the wonders of God’s universe as the wind tossed our hair and the waves hissed quietly, breaking upon the shore.
And when we weren’t playing — or sleeping — we were eating, and wondering why food always tastes so much better on vacation. My mother made big, Southern-style breakfasts for us around noon each day, and we stuffed ourselves with fluffy eggs and flaky biscuits, crispy bacon and creamy cheddar grits. What a rare treat to enjoy home-cooking that I didn’t have to cook.
At dinner, we grilled steaks and potatoes, and fried garden-fresh green tomatoes, or went out for Mexican food or pizza. My boys relished being able to drink soda and eat ice cream at any time of day, with no restrictions like we place on them at home.
I can truly say that I savored life last week, and it’s been far too long since I paused long enough to do that. Yes, it’s easier to cherish the moments when you’re lounging beside a sparkling turquoise sea, beneath clear blue skies framed by cotton-white clouds and softly swaying palm trees. But stepping away from day-to-day life gave me a clearer vision of it, and a greater resolve than ever to live in the moment and just be happy — not only on vacation, but every day.
I have to make time for rest, pursue peace, schedule downtime to relax with my family and simply enjoy being together. Because this life we’re given is such a brief gift, and far too precious to squander even a single moment.