Make the Memories
We had never done it before. My husband had brought it up several times that he would like for us to take a family trip every winter during the school year. I had always balked at this suggestion. Prior to starting our family, I was a teacher and could never justify taking time away from the classroom. It was always too much work to create plans for a substitute teacher. You’ll notice that most teachers will determine how sick they are by how much easier it is for them to go to work versus creating substitute plans.
When we started our family, I was just too darn tired as a new mom to plan for a trip. We had 4 kids in 9 years. It wasn’t until kid number 3 that we decided to attempt our first week long trip to the beach. The older kids were 4 and 6 and the youngest just 18 months old. The big kids were more independent and we were able to pull it off. Now that we no longer need diapers, a pack and play, the kids can pack for themselves, traveling with four kids has become infinitely easier.
We decided to surprise the kids to a family trip in January with high hopes for warmer weather and sunnier days. I chose a week where there would be a day off and a half day in the schedule so that they wouldn’t miss that much school. We spent a week visiting with family friends and touring a major theme park. While the weather was less than ideal, the upside were shorter lines. From the time we woke up to the time we came back for bedtime we were outside all day everyday. We paused for meals and excitedly planned our days. Everyday we easily put in 8–10 miles of walking to the various parks and attractions. The kids fell asleep early every night and were ready to go every morning. Little did we know that our world would turn upside down shortly after our return.
Exhausted but happy from our trip, we came home. The next I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Even though I had felt a suspicious lump in my breast days prior to leaving for our trip, I was determined not to dwell on it until it was confirmed by a doctor. I felt it every morning to see if it was still there (it was) and every day we had fun and teased each other about what which class or subject they would be in at school if we were at home instead of in line at the next greatest ride. I made a point not to bring it up during the trip. I didn’t know what would await us when we came home and I was determined to give my children good memories while I still could.
My cancer turned our world upside down for six weeks as I went through procedures and prepared for treatment. Six weeks after we came home from the trip of a lifetime and my cancer diagnosis, our state shut down by the pandemic. In the last 6 months, my kids have brought up countless times the trip where we played hooky from school for a week. We have never regretted that trip. If anything else, we are grateful for that time together when we didn’t know how much our lives would change afterwards. We aren’t left wondering or regretting that time away. That bit of spontaneity and deviation from usual schedules nourished our souls to take that time as a family.
We never know what’s going to happen next. When we decided to surprise our kids we didn’t know that I would be diagnosed with cancer or that the world would be shut down. We knew that we needed to time away from the hustle and bustle of our busy schedules. We knew that we needed time as a family.
During the height of my treatment when I was losing my hair, when I was tired from treatment, and the more time we spent in quarantine looking like we would never get out of it, we have talked about that trip and our favorite highlights. We have never regretted going.
My cancer diagnosis and the pandemic has encouraged us to enjoy the present and make the memories. No regrets.
If you are contemplating a trip, but work and school schedules are holding you back, I encourage to take that trip and enjoy that vacation. To see the world or stand in line at an amusement park. Whether you ride the most amazing roller coaster, drink a butter beer, or explore a new country when borders open back up. DO IT. You won’t regret taking the time for yourself or your family.