It seems crazy.

When we started making plans for vacation back in January, a vacation that would have us meeting up with one side of the family and then the other, traveling through the south and then back up through the Midwest, we were in the middle of an earth-shattering change. I had just lost my job, we had no idea what the future held, and I was walking around in a grief-stricken fog trying to figure out which foot to put down next.

And somehow we still managed to make complicated and detailed plans for a few thousand miles in new territory with our travel trailer.

Then everything changed for us again.

Three weeks before we were set to leave, my husband and I decided it was time to eventually head back north so that we could live closer to family and with “our people.” Two weeks before we were set to leave I started applying for jobs in Indianapolis because I still didn’t have a job in Houston and we figured, “why not?” One week before we were set to leave on a nearly three-week vacation we found out that I had a job offer and we were going to have to be settled in a new location in five weeks.

That left less than seven days to get our house ready to put on the market while also packing for vacation. And it meant we would have less than a week post-vacation in our Houston home before we would have to leave it forever, praying that we would quickly find a landing spot in Indianapolis because we weren’t keen on the idea of once again living in our camper for six weeks, or even longer.

When we told our children that we moving, our grieving daughter declared that she had no interest in going on vacation. She wanted to maximize the time with her friends. And as much as I empathized with her, as much as I remembered the struggle of leaving friends before I was ready because my family’s plans were different from my own, we knew that vacation time with family was important. In all the struggles of the first half of 2021, one thing had become abundantly clear: we needed our family and we needed our people. I knew she was grieving, but she also needed to see aunts and grandparents who could listen to her and not be her parents. We were the ones turning her life upside-down; she needed the support of adults who were not making decisions for her. Our son needed the same and needed time with his cousins. And we all needed to get away from all the things that had been reminding us of the emotional hurts that had plagued us for months.

So in a week’s time, we turned our home back into a house and did the least amount of vacation planning I think I have ever done in the history of our marriage. I painted the entire kitchen and dining area, we cleaned and threw things away, we packed and filled up our garage to declutter the house.

And we prepared to leave it all behind for three weeks so we could mentally prepare for a transition that was hitting us with all of the emotions.

Instead of a long, detailed meal list, our packing consisted of “what do we have left in our freezers?” Instead of detailed plans of where we would go in each location, I had let my sister-in-law pick two stops and we would just be along for the ride. Instead of paying attention to lessons learned, I hazily scheduled two long days for the first two days of our trip, something I wasn’t willing to even think about until just a few weeks before departure.

This perfectionist over-planner is completely unprepared for a vacation with my family.

And for the first time ever, that might be ok.

After six months in a fog after a year of pandemic living as we look forward to something both exciting and new, we need a vacation that focuses on the moment and not necessarily on what is coming next. Last January I didn’t know that was what I was going to need.

So our clothes are all packed, the laundry is done, all the food that we can fit is in the pantry, and we’ll probably have to get more on the road. But at least we’ll be together and we’ll be away from all of the stuff that has been literally and figuratively weighing us down.

And maybe our world will finally stop spinning, just for a little bit.


Sign up to get future blog posts directly in your inbox:


Thoughtful and nuanced responses welcome!