It's the last day of vacation -- a week in a big vacation house with all MrsDarwin's siblings and their families. It's been a good week, with games of Monopoly and cards, lots of singing, cousins tearing all over the house having fun and adults cooking, reading, and consuming a somewhat startling quantity of beer over the course of a week.
This morning, as I was sitting on a balcony looking out over the forest and drinking a cup of coffee, I was thinking about what I had and hadn't done over the week. I finished one of the books that I'd brought with me, but not the other two. I did very little writing. I didn't go running as often as I'd intended. But for all that it was a good time.
My days tend to be taken up with office duties, and then in the off hours with kid-related duties. When thinking of a vacation, I usually start with thinking about doing the things that I wish I had more time for during a normal week but don't. I think of having quiet time by myself. I think of reading a book for hours on end. I think of having quiet time with MrsDarwin. I think of getting some uninterrupted writing time before 10PM.
There's nothing wrong with any of these, but in a sense they're very much ideas for a vacation from my normal life. A day like any other day, but with less responsibility and more of what I want to do.
That might work if I was going off with just MrsDarwin. One thing we'd both like someday is the chance to get away together to some luxurious place where someone else does all the cooking and chores while we divide our time between reading, writing and talking to each other. But this is a family vacation, not an escape from reality, and so one of the points is to be with people, not to be away from people.
In some ways that is less restful. Getting 22 people including assorted babies out the door to go hiking and see a waterfall is a whole new kind of busy-ness. And yet, having a vacation for family life rather than a vacation from family life is actually a very good and needed thing -- even if it's not the thing which I most immediately think of when I think of "vacation". It's less self centered, less controlled, but in a real way fulfilling. The schedule is loose here and no one has to get angry if the kids are up late, or we don't have dinner done on time. We can finish a game of Monopoly even if that means the kids being up way past their bed times. If it takes an hour or two longer than planned to get everyone organized for some activity, none of these are activities which truly have to be done anyway.