When I returned to work, my colleagues asked cheerfully, "How was your vacation?"
"It was okay," I replied.
"I have three kids. I feel more exhausted than when I left." Only my boss, a mother of three herself, could truly relate.
Picture dragging two car seats from car to parking shuttle to checked luggage to baggage claim to rental car shuttle to be installed in a rental car, or transporting twins by stroller to the gate, collapsing said stroller, and holding squirming twins on your lap as they disrupt your brave in-flight neighbors, only to disembark, unfold the stroller anew, and strap your little ones in. Anyone would be exhausted (especially with an 11-year old asserting her independence - "I don't want to sit next to you!") And that was just the flight!
At some point my husband and I looked at each other in disbelief and asked, "Is this relaxing?"
My daughter starting teasing me - mimicking me daily "Give me a moment."
"Mommy's having a moment."
On this vacation, the only vacation I could grasp at was a series of "moments" defined by a few peaceful sips of coffee in bed, being able to read two (!) pages of my novel uninterrupted after putting the twins down for a nap, being able to pluck an eyebrow without a tween vying for space at the mirror to practice jazz moves and a toddler (or two) pulling on my leg or trying to bite my toes.
Call me childish, but this was the first vacation where I realized that our family vacation wasn't for me. It was for my kids! From that moment on, I tried to embrace this notion and enjoy the joy our vacation brought them - ample time with their parents without distractions from work, plenty of ice cream, and countless hours to frolic on the beach.
I have a newfound appreciation for my parents, who made what might have been unmemorable vacations for them into lasting memories for me.