So. We did it. Eleven of us—six adults and five kids ages three to eight—spent seven days in a vacation rental house just three blocks off a Lake Michigan beach. (What editor would ever allow that many numbers in one sentence!?)
Here is what I have to say about the experience compared to my musings in Part 1.
|South Haven, Michigan **|
· “Fantastic Mom and Dad . . .” Oh. Now that I think about it, we forgot to be fantastic. (Well, our knees hurt with all the extra walking!) But we made a good kitchen clean-up team!
· “Equally wonderful grown-up children.” Seven days in close proximity is an excellent opportunity to observe your grown children and their spouses being incredible parents, loving partners, and all-around good, intelligent, interesting people. Two of them went out running almost every morning, but I only hated them for flaunting their good knees a little bit.
· “Our family’s time together would never resemble either the angst or antics of any of the [big families meeting together in big houses] films I’m talking about. We’re not that brilliantly funny or dramatic. I don’t know. The “kids” might have talked behind our backs—you know, about our knees. If we had caught them there might have been drama. Meanwhile, one of the actual kids, age five, said during a conversation about marriage that I will probably be dead when she and the others kids get married. Now, that was funny! (But she has been tossed out of the will.)
· I have a feeling I might have imagined our “whole family” vacation with a little too much idealism. I didn't! Big house, big yard, Lake Michigan, sand, campfires, good food, Lake Michigan, more sand, commotion, games, Lake Michigan, more sand . . . and family, family, family. The main difference was not much opportunity for adult conversation. In the movies, the kids are often off camera. In real life, they tell people, "You'll probably be dead in twenty years." (I hope not! I want to remind her what she said at her wedding.)
· Eleven people in one house, for seven days. Eleven people eating meals together, for seven days. Eleven people coordinating plans each day, for seven days. Somehow it worked, but my daughter and daughter-in-law are masters at going with the flow! I would say I “supervised,” but I mostly watched the organized chaos called family with a good deal of awe.
· Five little cousins, together every day, for seven days. There were some trials and tears, but altogether, they were practically The Brady Bunch and had a great time.
· I am still convinced this is the kind of special gathering that gives families their texture and their stories. Absolutely! Summer 2015 will always hold this memory—and I hope we can do it again. Can’t let a little thing like bad knees stop us! (And where do we go to learn how to be fantastic?)