Moms

A trip turned vacation, thanks to Mother Nature

Mandy Ravin

In this Thursday, March 12, 2015 photo, a column of ash and smoke erupts from the Turrialba volcano in Turrialba, Costa Rica. The volcano erupted three times Thursday, and Costa Rican officials closed the country's main airport in the capital of San Jose after the eruption filled the sky with ash.
In this Thursday, March 12, 2015 photo, a column of ash and smoke erupts from the Turrialba volcano in Turrialba, Costa Rica. The volcano erupted three times Thursday, and Costa Rican officials closed the country's main airport in the capital of San Jose after the eruption filled the sky with ash. AP

As moms we often don’t get what we want…peace and quiet, a clean house, a thorough night’s sleep. But as The Rolling Stones so wisely advised, “if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need. “ It’s just that we are often so busy tending to everyone else’s wants, that we don’t see what we really need.

What did I want?

I wanted to expand my family’s horizons. To make everyone get outside of their comfort zone. To have a good time and do something different. I wanted a spring break trip to Costa Rica. So I researched and meticulously planned, and booked our trip.

Sounds simple enough, but to really appreciate this story you have to know me. Because if you know me you know what I was up against:

A husband who is happy vacationing in front of his big screen tv and sees no need to venture anywhere.

A daughter who is so germ-phobic she brings a laundered sleep sack to use any time she’s not in her own bed and goes through a bottle of hand sanitizer a day.

A son who takes the whole glass-half-full thing to an entirely new level. “The plane is probably going to crash.” “There are volcanoes and one will probably erupt and humans can’t run faster than lava.” “The monkeys that live in the rainforest are probably going to attack us. “

And a 13-year old. Can anything make a 13-year old happy?

But ahead I charged, because you see, I am the Mom…the responsible one, the planner. I get all the snacks, all the games, choose all the restaurants, activities, and hotels. I am the Julie of this family’s Love Boat experience. And I am somehow then responsible for everyone’s happiness.

When the restaurant food tastes terrible, and the exciting kids’ activities turn out to be as boring as going to school, and the 4 star hotel looks more like a youth hostel, I am the one who hears about it. And I am the one who feels guilty.

So after all the planning, all the begging of everyone to just open their minds, I sat down in my seat and the plane’s wheels lifted from the ground, and I smiled and let out a sigh of relief because I knew this was going to be the best trip ever!

Until.

Until the pilot came on to tell us that a volcano had erupted. That there was ash on the runway. That the airport in Costa Rica was closed. That we would be returning to Charlotte and that we needed to collect our suitcases because we were not going to Costa Rica.

Until the rebooking agent told me that my daughter and I could indeed get to Costa Rica – 3 days later – on different flights than my husband and boys.

Until my mini-breakdown in the baggage claim area when the reality of there no longer being a trip to Costa Rica finally set in.

Then something amazing happened. My family, who usually do nothing more than follow my carefully planned trip itineraries, went into action. They loaded the car with our suitcases, set the GPS for Florida, and we hit the road.

There was no fighting in the back seat. There was no whining that things weren’t what they thought it would be, because nobody knew how it would be. There were no expectations. No rules. No demands. We drove until we were tired, booked hotels on the fly, came up with last-minute decisions about eating and doing and having fun. And it was one of the best spring break vacations ever. Not the best trip, the best vacation.

Because it goes back to an internal debate I’ve had over the years….I believe there is a difference between a trip and a vacation.

You see, a trip is something as described above, where I do all the packing, the planning, the accepting of the complaints, the rubbing of the sunscreen and the removing of the ski bibs. It is work. It is not relaxing. Is it fun? You bet! Do I enjoy it? Yes! Yes! Yes! But is it a vacation? Absolutely not.

And this trip to Costa Rica that I wanted was to be no different. But who can argue with Mother Nature when she lets you know, in the form of a volcanic eruption, that what you want and what you need aren’t coinciding? So as we cruised down the highway I reminded myself that maybe the trip I wanted was not the vacation I needed.

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