The four of us finally made it to our spring break destination . . . Tulum, Mexico. I’d been counting down the days since I clicked ‘purchase’ months ago. One of the great memories growing up in my family were the many vacations my father took us on. I always remember my mom on a chair in the shade. My dad always packed in activities.
On the first night of our arrival under the moonlight in the Gulf of Mexico, I felt tremendous joy as I watched Julia, my daughter, jump the waves and squeal with delight as the water brushed against her naked skin . . . yes she was naked.
I remembered many conversations with my father over the years telling me that this was the best time of my life with a young family and one that he wished that he could go back to if ever given the chance. As I sat there under the moonlight, I knew what he meant.
Several days later on the same vacation, we went to visit the Tulum ruins early one morning. By the end of the morning excursion, both Patrick and Julia were tiered, hungry, and crabby. There were a lot of complaints and arguments coming from the back seat. In the front seat my husband and I were navigating Mexican roads and the quickest way to relieve the commotion . . . just get back to the hotel was our mantra.
By the time we arrived, I quickly got Julia to the bathroom and changed to go for a long walk along the beach to settle down from the morning antics. An hour later I arrived back to the room with questionable looks, “where are the keys?”
I looked in all the places that had already been searched-no keys. Patrick came back from a last look and said, “I found the keys! They are inside the car AND it is still running.” Four local men, my husband and Patrick maneuvered the keys out of the car with a hook, pole and a lot of prayers.
I was embarrassed. But underneath the embarrassment, I felt completely seen by family in my vulnerability as a mother.
Then it brought the tenderness towards many mothers I’ve had conversations with about forgetting words midstream in a sentence or forgetting simple things that typically flow effortlessly.
From the book that I recently finished to just seeing Still Alice, I was convinced that I was experiencing the early signs of a brain tumor or Alzheimer’s. So on our technology free vacation, I started sneaking the iPad into the lobby researching what was exactly happening to my brain. No success in finding an an a nswer since the limited internet access was far more frustrating then believing my self-diagnosis.
It just so happened that Julia had a doctor’s appointment when we returned home. As we were leaving the doctor’s office, out came my story about being forgetful, the embarrassing situation of leaving the keys in the car and about feeling that my mind is sometimes like a pinball machine.
The doctor started asking many questions and replied with genuine kindness, “There is nothing wrong with you. This is motherhood.”
I didn’t know whether to cry or smile. Either way, I knew why my mother sat in a chair under the shade on all of those vacations and why my dad said this is a great time in my life. Today is the two year anniversary of his passing and I bet that he wishes he could be here in all the busyness and commotion of a young family and especially on vacation.