A Spring Break They Won’t Forget

How much time do we spend worrying about our children? 5 hours and 18 minutes to be exact. A study of 2,000 parents by OnePoll in conjunction with Lice Clinics of America found precisely what’s keeping us, parents, up at night. The top three concerns are our children’s safety, followed by their happiness, and finally, we worry about our children being bullied (not if our child is a bully, but if our child is being bullied…food for thought). 54% of the parents polled said that being a parent was much harder than they thought it would be and 52% said they feel judged by other

parents. I don’t know about you but I personally would like to talk with the other 56% of the parents who were totally expecting parenthood to be this hard, perhaps their children haven’t reached the teenage years yet? Going into parenthood I knew full well that it would not always be a walk in the park, but I never anticipated the teenage years requiring quite this extent of attentiveness, I’d say it’s the equivalent of the toddler years, but instead of a physical attentiveness it’s more of a mental exhaustion, I mean, attentiveness. What I wasn’t surprised to find in the results of the study was that we parents worry about our children’s happiness. I’m sure I’m not the only one worrying about how my actions, reactions, words, etc. are affecting my children’s happiness? What parent among us doesn’t wonder how children will look back on their childhood?  Will they come to resent us, look back fondly, or perhaps look back and realize we were human and tried the best with the resources we had? I hope my children will realize the latter. Especially with regard to Spring Break 2023, when we had our very own National Lampoon mini vacation! 

Anyone who’s scrolled social media in the past few weeks has been greeted with a multitude of excited families boarding airplanes, on the beach, at Disney World, or taking a road trip.  And while an all-out week away sounds absolutely brilliant it simply wasn’t in the card for us. Get this, all three of my children had different spring breaks with my youngest having the latest break which was this week. I was so disappointed when I realized we all had different breaks. I longed to get away for a few days and relax, explore, and reconnect, especially after the days worth of work we ended up doing on our winter break. So, perhaps a week was out of the question but there was a glimmer of hope, they all had the Monday after Easter off! So I booked a room in Columbus, renewed my Imagination Station membership for COSI, made a playlist, and was ready to take a road trip with three of my favorite people in the entire world! (back story-At 3am on a Wednesday morning, the police were in hot pursuit of a vehicle speeding through our neighborhood. The Flex was parked in front of the house and when the car came around the corner it sideswiped the Flex. Replacement vehicle, Toyota Corrola). So Easter Sunday around 5pm we piled into the tiny Toyota and hit the road! By the time we stopped for gas, to use the restroom, and grabbed our cheesecake slices from Cheesecake Factory (it’s a tradition, it’s not vacation until there’s cheesecake!) we didn’t get into Columbus until almost 9pm, the pool at the hotel closed at 10pm, guess who forgot the bathing suits? Walmart to the rescue! 

Picture it, tired mom of 3 teens frantically trying to find modest bathing suits in an over-picked disorganized section of Walmart filled with disheveled random parts and pieces spewed about over 4-ways…I didn’t know which were tops and which were bottoms. But I did know I promised my kids we would swim on this Spring Break and we were going to swim, even if it meant that we would all be wearing swimsuits we would never want to be caught dead in. I’m still not quite certain the holes/peek-a-boos and strings all ended up where they should be, it’s a good thing I’m not part of that 52% of parents who said they feel judged by other parents. Because I did not care what any other parents thought at that moment, I was just thankful we were all able to squeeze our butts into those suits and swim for a solid 25 minutes. Best 25 minutes of the day! Then we went back up to the room, ate our cheesecake, and discussed all the exhibits we wanted to see at COSI the next day. One we all agreed on was the King Tut exhibit. After that long swim, we were all ready for bed. 

In the morning we were eager to get our adventure going! We had breakfast, packed up, checked out, and got cozy in the Toyota. Thankfully we didn’t have to go far, or should I say we did have to go far, we needed to go all the way to Wednesday because that was when COSI opened, noon on Wednesday to be precise. For a moment I thought about how Clark Griswold handled a similar situation in Wolly World but decided against it. I would have to come up with a new plan and fast. While in the parking lot, I got out my phone and decided to renew another local membership, my Toledo Zoo membership, and then we hit the road.

We arrived at the Columbus Zoo around noon. The kids could not contain their disappointment in my choice. The last place they wanted to go to was a zoo. To add insult to injury the family parked next to us had a child around 6 or 7 years old who literally came flying out of their minivan and puked right next to our car. I quickly hit the recycle air button and prayed for a better outcome to the day. And my prayers were answered, I don’t know if it was the gorgeous sunshine, warm temperatures, relaxing music piped throughout the speakers, or perhaps a combination of all three, but within 15 minutes of arriving at the entrance, everyone was calm, peaceful, and pleasant. 

It was literally the most perfect imperfect Spring Break we’ve ever had! 

This leads me to my closing question.  The study expressed that parents worry about their children being happy. I personally think happiness is best created during those authentic moments when things don’t always go perfectly, or at least happy memories are created this way. What do you think? Will children come to resent us, look back fondly, or perhaps look back and realize we were human and tried the best with the resources we had?

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