Taking a dreaded vacation turns into a thing of beauty

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2007

&uot;Everything’s coming together!,&uot; was Matt’s excited announcement last month. For years Matt has wanted to take a &uot;second honeymoon.&uot;

Translation: He’s wanted to go on some type, any type, of vacation with me. Devoid of children.

Money has always been a barrier. Our other barrier has always been me. My children are my life. They are the air I breathe, the energy in my being, the pride and joy in my heart, the value to my life. They are the reason I feel I need to be institutionalized at times and the reason the end of my rope seems to dangle inches, sometimes feet beyond my grasp, yet they are the reason I try every day to be a better person. I deeply love and need my children.

And the thought of leaving them for even a few days equals dropping a large boulder on my stomach. Must be anxiety.

&uot;A friend from school has offered her family’s summer home to us free of charge. The place is right on the beach and tickets to Florida are $34! Everything’s coming together!&uot;

My head spun. I quickly got on the Internet hoping to find an equivalent deal in neighboring towns. Realizing that flying to Florida would be cheaper than staying close to home left me in a puddle of anxiety-laced sweat. &uot;My husband was asking me to put my body 20,000 feet in the air and then several states away from my children. I would be at the mercy of pilots, possible terrorists, alligators and sharks. My children would be in the hands of my parents, which, now that I myself am a parent and can look back on my childhood, wonder if that’s even a good idea.

And we’d be together.

If something happened to both of us, who would take care of my precious blessings? My family tree and Matt’s family tree overflow with nuts and psyco squirrels.

While everything was coming together for Matt, everything seemed to be falling apart for me. My vitals began to shut down. Thank goodness I know people who let fear govern their lives.

Free agency is something I value, cherish, enjoy and know that we, as Americans, must protect. When fear runs your life, free agency does not. Joy seems to be replaced with panic.

I recognized this in my thoughts and actions. And I decided face it.

We returned from our four days in Florida this week. I feel like I have been emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually aired out. Matt and I are more in love, shared some really funny memories, had relaxing dinners, and are now tanner.

My children had fun with their grandparents and my parents now praise me for having such surprisingly well-behaved kids. I am more willing to let go of some hot coals regarding my upbringing when I see the love and care my parents showed to my children.

When their grandparents left this morning, Colby was sad and Jessika cried for my mother. They must have had a really good time.

My fears were all in vain. Energy wasted. I actually had a real good time (as soon as the plane landed) and found myself shocked at the fact that we had not done anything similar before. Yes, the children would have had fun at the beach, but WOW!

Life sure is relaxing when you don’t have four children whirl-winding around you!

After the first day Matt and I started figuring out how long until we’d be empty nesters.

If all goes as planned and with fingers crossed, we’ll be in our early 50s.

Erika Jeanne is a Waynesboro resident and (normally) a stay-at-home mom of four children.