This year's vacation involved going down into the mountains. It was a totally different experience from Hilton Head last year. Mostly because there was no sand to exacerbate eczema this year. And also because the little girls are steadily getting better at traveling. Granted, Charlie did her share of whining in the car, but on the way home we were able to make it the whole 8 hours without stopping for an extended period of time.
It was as close to a perfect vacation as I could get, really. Busy enough that I was not bored, slow enough that we did not have to rush around and feel stressed. I went ziplining and go carting and went to places like the Dixie Stampede and Clingman's Dome. I made fun of (mostly in my head, because my mother was with me. I do have some sense of decency. Sometimes) the blatant Christianity that was pushed as well as the southern pride and male privilege that was rampant. I will admit that I called a huge cross a lightning rod, and to my mother to boot, but I figure that that joke would be the least likely of my sins to take me to hell anyways so it was totally worth it.
We went on this vacation with my niece and nephew, my sister, sister in law, brother in law, and mother. It was quite amusing to watch Halle, my niece, and Charlie interact. It was reminiscent of the sorority girls that they will be someday. A lot of stumbling around, consuming lots of drinks and junk food, running around naked or in their bathing suits asking to get sprayed down with water, and vacillating from "You are my best friend cousin EVER" to "You're mean!" before finally passing out in someone's bed.
When we got home, though, the change in Charlie was noticeable. I don't know if it was because I was more relaxed, she was more relaxed, or if she was just fucking with me...but she was very sweet. Now this kid loves to be a helper, don't get me wrong...but it is usually in the capacity of wanting to learn to be totally independent vs any sort of altruistic tendencies. Today was different though. She was caring, attentive, and far less intense than she usually is. She went from "don't fuck with my sister or I'll cut you" to "I'm going to help my sister myself".
It was a refreshing change, to tell the truth. Usually Charlie is firmly convinced that the world is out to get her through such devious means as forcing her to eat vegetables and to do things like sleep and share. Tonight, she went out of her way to be nice to Alexis. She shared my phone with Alexis to play games, cutting her turn short so Alexis could go. She went and got Alexis a glass of water so I did not have to get up. She was giving her sister hugs.
It is amazing how getting away from it all can change a person. I feel so incredibly lucky that I have the means (well, sorta) to take the time off to spend with my family. Soon, Elizabeth will be going away to school. Alexis will not want to spend time with us. Then will come Charlie. I am trying to treasure the time we have as a family in our day to day lives as well as on vacation. They are short lived, indeed. So yes, I am going to grab a hold of the feeling of relaxation and make memories with my children while I can. I am going to renew my soul so I can get it sucked out again at work. And I am going to grip onto a changed child, even if it might only be due to a desire to mess with Mommy mentally.
I am going to relax, dammit. It's just no one told me it was going to be so much work.