“I need an outfit for the plane,” the young mom said.
“Me too,” I excitedly blurted out. We were standing in the check out line waiting to be rung up. Looking down at her choice of lightweight leisure wear I asked, “Are you going somewhere warm?”
“Yes, Florida,” she replied, waiting for me to be jealous of her escape from the gray, cold weather.
“How about you?” she asked.
I remember being a young mom, right before vacation. Getting everyone packed would leave me exhausted before my seat belt was even fastened.
“We’re going to Ireland!” I told her. Something I’ve wanted to say for a long time.
Newly married, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and a few pints in, my husband and I would jokingly say, “We’re booking flights tomorrow for Dublin! We’re going to make an Irish baby!” By 38 we had four kids but not one made in Ireland. With a family of 6, the Emerald Isle was outside of our budget. And honestly, driving on the left side of the road, to visit cemeteries where my husband’s long gone relatives rested with school aged kids, sounded like a trip to hell. We opted instead for stateside beach vacations. As the kids grew up they caught the European travel bug on their own.
And I’m glad we waited until now to travel abroad together, my husband and I in our 60’s, our kids in their 20’s and 30’s. I have the wisdom, fluidity, and experience I didn’t have in my earlier years. I could see the stress on the young mom’s face that I no longer have while traveling with my whole family. My younger self would have to be in control the entire vacation. I no longer always have to be the lead dog, we can now take turns holding the reins as we scape the countryside for grazing sheep. I can enjoy the wanderlust of travel rather than making sure the kids have their floaties and sunscreen on. I don’t have to deal with teenagers (enough said). I have few expectations of this trip leaving me with vast amounts of space to be the observer.
They’ll whip out their phones to shoot the perfect picture, one that would take me twice as long to take. They’ll remember the name of the recommendation for the pub to try with the best music. I’ll sit in the backseat driving the coastline looking at every shade of green as they navigate the GPS. I know what to pack, when to take breaks, feed my brain with good thoughts, and the kids’ energy will encourage me to keep going on that hike. Healthy boundaries of knowing when to listen and when to guide, when to say, “Wait for me, I’m going into this store and it might be a while.”
The childhood stories of Finn McCool, fairies and pagans will come alive while enjoying celtic music, ancient ruins, and famous cliffs. Now interested in their heritage, they also want to walk through cemeteries and find their roots as much as we do, curious in finding Rowhouse #17 to see where our people lived.
Soon enough there will be grandkids and we’ll probably be back to beach vacations. And don’t’ get me wrong, I’m always a little jealous of someone else’s warm weather vacation and the chance to wear linen in winter. But this spring break I’m swapping out my beach hat for a Buff headband, a Margarita for a Guinness.
And some day, that young mom may be as excited as I am to center outfits around a raincoat and hiking boots.