Growing up farm kids, vacations were a rare occurrence. We just couldn’t leave the farm. The pigs, cows, horses, dogs, cats, crops and garden needed tending. Yes, someone else could do chores, but the issue was more about timing than anything; getting the hay baled, wheat cut, pastures mowed, calves doctored, pigs weaned, feed mixed, horses shod, garden weeded, beans canned . . . get the picture.
Farm family or not, I think we create excuses for not leaving our chaotic routine driven days for something outside the box. Excuses like 9 to 5 work, house work, yard work, volunteer work, church work, social media work, backyard BBQ work . . . there are only 14,400 minutes in a day. Who has time to vacation?!
I suppose My Farmer and I adopted the mentality that vacation only comes when the work is done and only when the vacation designated piggy bank is full. We hadn’t even discussed a honeymoon and only took one seven years after the big day because I randomly won a cruise. Then we had to go.
Four years ago, my parents announced they had rented a beach cottage on Lake Michigan and we were all invited to spend the week. Our first response – from farm kids of a farm family who rarely vacationed together – was, “What’s wrong? Is someone sick?”
Strictly because of timing, I said thanks but no. The vacation had been scheduled for the week before our county fair, the planning for which consumes my summers. I couldn’t leave the phone, the email or the snail mail four days before the fair opened. The cottage had no service, no phones, no internet. We would be completely disconnected.
That same week, a co-worker was lamenting that her son would be missing their family’s annual pilgrimage north because of his summer job. “What will he remember in 20 years?” she exclaimed. “That he walked a field and found a bug?”
I left the office that day and called my mom. “I don’t want my kids to think work trumps family. We’re in.”
Four summers later, as we leave Michigan water, sun and sand, I realize how connected our disconnected time on the beach really is. We focus on our kids, building sand castles, discovering shells, and catching minnows. My Farmer and I escape for beach walks and talk about more than our farm.
As a group, we laugh until we cry about me walking through the cottage’s sliding screen door and my daughter repeating my folly this summer. We celebrate the announcement of another family member (that was last summer and baby Michael sampled the Lake this year). We quietly contemplate our varied lives as the sun sinks into the water at day’s end.
Escaping for vacation isn’t easy for many reasons, but farm family or not, I’ve come to know it as a necessary prescription for an overwhelmingly connected world in which we rarely connect at all. We must carve out the time for each other in order that in chaos we can rely on one another.
My fairy farm princess wisely summarized as we drove off this afternoon, “Mom, Michigan vacation is so special because we only get it once a year. Now, let’s go home.”
When is your vacation?