Ten years ago next month, we went on our last big family vacation.
At that time, my kids were 7, 9, 15 and 16. The older kids were already so busy that we knew it would only get harder to fit in a big vacation before they went off to college or moved out on their own. It was a bittersweet feeling, knowing this would probably be our last family trip with all four kids together.
I spent months planning that two-week vacation, using the relatively new Internet (and our snail-paced dial-up connection) to find reasonably priced hotels and scout out attractions in our chosen destination of Florida. An added bonus was that we’d be able to visit my 101-year-old great aunt in West Palm Beach; we hadn’t seen her in years and she had never seen our youngest two children.
The trip was great. We stayed on the beach, witnessed an early morning shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral, had a joyous visit with my aunt, and even got to visit some homeschooling friends in Kentucky en route. We sure made some wonderful memories.
While on the trip, I saved every bit of memorabilia I could: ticket stubs, attraction passes, even the hotel maps we were given to find our rooms. I had plans for a fantastic scrapbook to keep our memories in one place. I’d never scrapbooked before, but I bought cute, vacation-themed supplies so I could assemble a beautiful scrapbook that I hoped would become a family keepsake.
Not long after we got back home, my nine-year-old asked if she could put the scrapbook together. An innocent request to be sure, but to her perfectionist first-born (sorry for the redundancy) mom, it was startling. Give up control over the ultimate souvenir, the holder of memories of our last trip as a family?
I don’t know if I was just tired, or if this was the point in my life where I finally accepted that I didn’t have to be in control of everything. But I said yes.
Today my youngest son and I looked at that scrapbook. It’s adorable! Our daughter’s personality is all over it, but every member of the family is represented, and it’s wonderful. Flipping through the book is a hoot, with the unevenly cropped photos and the comments written in a nine-year-old’s scrawl.
It’s a much more interesting scrapbook than I would have come up with. I’m so glad that I let go of that project and gave it to my daughter.