It was family vacation.
It's an experience that has taken on a mythology all its own in our culture: sun-kissed children frolicking in the waves (or the snow, or at the themepark), loading up the station wagon (or minivan or SUV), togetherness, memories that will last a lifetime.
As with childbirth -- an experience which likewise has taken on its own mythology -- we find ourselves, when the ordeal is done, looking at photos of our adorable children and smiling wistfully. Forgetting all the bloody, painful trauma, the hurled recriminations, the vows (made in the thick of things) to never, ever do it again.
We rented the same lovely little house we've rented for the past few years. It's close to the beach and full of charm, and even bunny-friendly.
Seduced by the idea of sun, shore and seafood, I was looking forward to the trip. I'd forgotten that familiarity breeds contempt, and after four weeks at home since school let out for the summer, my family would be both excessively familiar and excessively contemptuous with me.
Of course we had fun, but there were times when all that family togetherness seemed like too much. (I mean, how many times in a week can two tweeners and a teen roll their eyes? Apparently in excess of five hundred. Each.)
So next time I shall endeavor to remember the importance of going out on my own for at least one or two expeditions during the week; getting in more solo walks, whether around the neighborhood or on the beach; bringing my headphones to better tune out the exasperated chorus of "Mo-om!"
Most importantly, I shall remember that just an instant ago, they looked like this
and because of all this family togetherness (or perhaps "despite all this family togetherness") family vacations are indeed some of the most special times of our lives.