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FAMILY, TRAVEL  permanent link to this entry 07.22.2010
summer 2010 vacation - most enlightening
yesterday i talked about the what i found most surprising about my trip, today i wanted to share what i found most enlightening. the moment came in the last hour of the 208 hour vacation experience. we were almost home. the kids were playing in the back as they had the whole way there and the whole way back. marty, in the seat to me, had her head back on the seat rest, her eyes closed, feet on the dashboard and a pillow wrapped up in her arms as if it were a stack of books and she were walking to class. after glancing at her for a moment i broke the silence by saying that when i was younger i was always hyper excited for vacations and uber depressed to return from them. but now, while i still love and anticipate vacations, i no longer experience the extreme elation and even more extreme letdown i used to. i view this in a very positive way as a mark of my daily life and routines and i'm immensely appreciative to have reached a place as satisfying as this.

without opening her eyes, marty responded that the thing she disliked most about returning from vacation these days was the solitude of her life. confused, i commented that it seemed she got out a lot, through arranged, weekly events with other stay at home moms and friends and such. she elaborated saying she didn't mean solitude as in simply being alone but rather solitude as in not getting enough adult interaction and that spending the lion-share of your time with someone whose conversational repertoire predominately consists of the question 'why?' takes a dramatic toll on an educated and previously mentally challenged individual. she went on to say how she totally understood how not all moms (or dads) could manage staying at home with kids because the reality and rigors of just you and a child or two at home are serious. the occasional bouts of disbelief at the state of your life, rational or not, could be defeating. i thought of a new neighbor, fresh from philadelphia and at home all day with a thirteen month old while her husband is at work and her with no local network yet. then i thought of our friend e-love who teaches school full-time and then changes gears, dramatically, to care for their children full-time in the summer months. even though e-love has the advantage of nine months of diversity, i imagine his scenario has to be an even harder lifestyle than a straight full-time parent who has at least the consistency-crutch to lean upon. after marty expressed her sentiment she slid into her quiet reverie again. i let her be and drove on wordlessly.

for some time now, i've been doing an exercise on monday mornings. it is from the happier book i read last year. in the exercise you are to imagine you are at the end of your life and mere moments from death. you have the sudden ability to travel, via a time machine, to your present day self. you are asked to contemplate and answer the question, 'what is the one piece of advice your expiring self would give your present-day self?'. last monday, my first day back from vacation and the day after i had the above conversation with marty, my answer to that question was, "be more empathetic about how challenging my wife's job of raising our children is — and how extraordinary she is at this job."



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