En­joy­ing de­served va­ca­tion

The Covington News - - At play - KARI APTED COLUM­NIST Kari Apted may be reached at kari@ kari­apted. com.

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.

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