After a wonderful week at Smith Mt. Lake at a large rental house with my parents, siblings and spouses, and all our kids (and my sister's pooch), we loaded up our van and said our goodbyes. Sam asked if he could go home with Micah and Emma, his "best" cousins. He also asked if we could stay at the house forever.
I oh-so-gently brought him back to reality by saying, "Sorry, vacation can't last forever! Only for a week." He took it in stride.
I have to admit that I felt a little pang of guilt over his desire to stay. Maybe I'm projecting my own feelings onto him, or assuming that I know what he feels, but I often feel guilty that we live in an apartment in the city. The kids don't have their own rooms or their own yard. We don't have a playroom. And although we spend lots of time at the park, it feels pretty sterile compared to my own upbringing. At the lake house, Sam and Levi had what I think of as a normal childhood experience: lots of time outside, fishing, swimming, playing, Sam riding his bike in the street (we were almost at a dead end). Lots of space inside, where they could run around a make noise without my shushing: "you'll bug our downstairs neighbors!"
We drove home on a scenic route and made a stop in Charlottesville to visit our dear friends, Harvey and Sally, who just moved there. After having lunch together and chatting for a couple of hours, we continued our trip. Long story short, it took us until 7:45 to get home. (We left the lake at 10am!) The kids were tired of being in the car.
As we pulled into the driveway of our building, Sam looked elated. "Hey! Our house!"
(Never mind that it's actually a huge apartment building, not a house. We still call it that.)
We pulled into our garage spot, and Sam and Levi danced around while Mike and I figured out just how much we could manage to bring up to the apartment in one trip. We made the trek and finally arrived at our apartment door.
What followed were excited shouts of glee, things like,
"We haven't been here in a really long time!"
"Da Iggles!" (Levi, upon reacquainting himself with his big red car.)
"I love our home!"
And several other exclamations that I tried to remember but can't. But what I do remember is how warm it felt, how rewarding, that my kids were so happy to be home after such a wonderful week away. Sure, it's a place, but it represents the way we spend our time on a normal basis, their rituals, their lives. Time and rituals that I am in charge of, that I sometimes labor to plan and keep orderly and sometimes allow to become disorderly and askew, even boring. And although they had a wonderful week away, they missed it.
More on the vacation soon!