I ran into my friend Andy Womack the other day and he said he reads this column (thanks, Andy) and said he had a good idea for a column based on a conversation we had years ago.
Frankly, I don’t remember it, but Andy said he ran into me at an airport in Florida. I was leaving; he was arriving. He was vacationing and I was going home.
At that time, our children were young (in their teens and pre-teens) and we owned a condominium there. When he noted I must be sad to be leaving it I said, “I’m going HOME to have a vacation, Andy. When I’m here all I do is work and take care of teenagers and I’m going home to have a little time to myself.”
I’m sure there are many of you out there who can identify with this. A vacation home doesn’t always mean a “vacation.” And many of us need a vacation from a vacation.
When the children got out of school we would pile the Buick stationwagon up with food, bikes, beach things and be off.
The drive was about eight hours and it was truely fun to be in the car hearing the things kids talk about among themselves. (Once Tommy wrote “Wally World or Bust” on the rear window.)
When you hear your children chat with their peers you learn a lot of things about them you might not otherwise know.
One time I took my three children and two friends.
By the fifth day, I couldn’t take it any longer and we headed home.
It wasn’t that they were bad; they were not. In fact they were all beautifully behaved.
The problem was being responsible for someone else’s children (along with mine).
They would say, “Mom, can we go out and walk up and down the beach?”
“Sure, but be home by 8 p.m.,” I’d say. And they’d come home at 8 p.m.
They were being very responsible but where was time for me? With only one large “meeting room” and kitchen, I didn’t enjoy being by myself in the bedroom. I had hoped to read books or write letters or read magazines in view of the ocean or do what people on vacation do.
When they asked to venture outside by themselves I would think: “there’s a whole lot of the unknown out there.” As good as they were and although they followed the rules, the fear of what could happen caused me to pack up and go home.
When I told this to my friend Madge Lewis, who is a mother of four, she said “you should have taken another parent along. You just had too much responsibility for one of you.”
There’s another aspect to the “joy” of owning another home. Now I can hear many of you out there groaning about me complaining about having (the luxury of) owning two homes and I’m not ungrateful. But the other aspect is that shared by my friend, contractor John Murray about his house on the lake.
He was going there once and I said if he was looking forward to giong and he said, “Heck, no...all I do when I go there is mow the grass, fix broken appliances and take care of everything else.”
I know that feeling too.
When we go to Knoxville (to the house in my sister’s back yard) almost 80 percent of Tommy’s time there is occupied by work: cleaning the gutters, trimming shrubs, killing weeds between bricks in the patio, sowing grass seed, whatever.
He never complains (actually he enjoys yard work) but it does take some of the fun out of it for me to see him working so hard.
Admittedly these are problems many would trade with me, but it all goes back to those words of William Wordsworth (remember: “the world is too much with us?”)
Wonder if Willie would agree with me if he had a second home today?
‘Til next week.