The Free Motion Quilting Project: Vacationing Thoughts...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vacationing Thoughts...

Do you know how to take a vacation? Does that question even make sense?

I ask because the truth is - I don't really know how to take a vacation! I'm not good at relaxing and taking it easy. I'm not good at having nothing to do.

When I look at it critically I know I'm really good at working. I'm really good at supporting my family, which is not a bad thing by any means!

Traditionally we see fathers as the "bread winners" of a family and have no problem with male figures working excessively, vegging out in front of the TV ignoring everyone, and occasionally coming up for air during vacations.

I even witnessed this particular monster when I worked in the Outer Banks of NC back in 2003. Most families would arrive on Friday or Saturday and hit the shops where I worked on Sunday or Monday. By Wednesday, the dads in most families were looking pretty bewildered. They wore expressions along the lines of "Is THIS really my family? Is this really my wife? Is this really my kids?"

When I saw this sort of thing happen in the store it was usually in the midst of an all-out family tantrum. Kid wants a toy + Mom wants to teach the kid a lesson about money + tired from a long day at the beach = Total Family Meltdown. The dads always stood on the peripheral, and I always had an urge to shove them forward into the melee with a command: "Face what you've built!"

Because this is what we build! When the focus is only work, work, work, that doesn't leave a lot of room for family. It's should be no surprise when halfway through your vacation you realize you're surrounded by strangers you live with every day of the year.

Luckily, I haven't had a super disturbing wake-up call during this vacation. Even though I am my family's breadwinner, I've seen this particular issue too many times to fall prey to it. I was raised by a father who was largely absent, endlessly working, working, working to pay for my mother's ever-increasing need to spend money.

So my kid's occasional lapses into defiant, typical 4 year old behavior never comes as a surprise. What has been a surprise is seeing just how much he's changed since the last time we came to Pensacola, and the realization that these young years are slipping by so very quickly.

Sometimes it feels like my little boy will be little forever. I can remember him being 18 months old and developing the most annoying habit of pretending to fall over whenever I walked by. He'd scream and cry until I picked him up, gave him a hug, and worked with him on my lap.

At the time, it truly felt like he would be 18 months old forever, and unfortunately I didn't always stop and give him a hug and a kiss when he pulled the fake-falling stunt. Sometimes I was just too busy, too focused to take the time.

And now my 18 month old baby is a nearly 5 year old little boy and again, I forget that he's always changing, always learning, always growing. It's so easy to assume he'll be this way forever and I'll have plenty of time to catch it on camera, to give him those kisses, and to play that game one more time.

Last year around Thanksgiving, I had a huge wake-up call when we lost Jinjo, our greyhound, and the first dog I ever really loved. I woke up to the fact that you really never know how much time you have. You might have days or months or years, but you never know when something might happen to change the game forever.

It was at that point that I made the decision to stop hording my love, to start showing it more freely and, more than anything else, to stop being such a workaholic all the time. To take a vacation and to actually have fun and BE fun.

That's something I find missing from motherhood in general. It seems we're able to provide fun: to drive to fun places, to buy fun snacks, to even hire fun babysitters, but BEING fun ourselves?

For a long time I've had a hang-up with this. What will people think if I play on the beach with my kid? What will people think if I dress up and go trick-or-treating for Halloween? What will other moms think if I go swimming with my son and get my hair wet? What will they think if I get into the bouncy gym? What will they think if they see me having fun?

As totally silly as these questions may seem, they actually do run through my noggin, accompanied with a good dose of stress whenever they come up! The good news is I've finally started to laugh at myself when most of these question come up.

As a wonderful reader once wrote to me via email "What other people think of me is none of my business." Who cares what I'm doing or look like so long as we're all having fun?!

So this Halloween instead of staying home, working on a quilt or the site, I dressed up with my guys and went trick or treating for the first time in many years. We all had an absolute blast walking around as Iron Man, Lieutenant Uhura, and Commander Riker.

free motion quilting | Leah Dayfree motion quilting | Leah DayFor the record, no, I'm can't rightfully call myself a trekkie, but Josh probably could!

So as we head for home early tomorrow morning, I'm coming back feeling great. We've had a truly wonderful vacation, but even more importantly, I've learned how to take it easy, have fun, and ditch a truckload of worry.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I am with you on the "can't just sit on a beach all day reading a book" I have to be busy, otherwise I fall asleep. If we are watching TV, I have something else in my lap keeping my mind busy before it zonks out. So our vacations are always go, go, go, go, go, and we need a vacation from our vacation. I am glad you had some fun with your little guy, he will be driving and then graduating before you know it, so enjoy every day you can, and live a little more each day. Also, who cares what others think?! It is your life, live it the way YOU want to.

  2. Wow, interesting observations you had in N.C. So glad you're finding ways to have fun!

  3. My Dad worked hard for long hours, but he made sure we took a vacation every summer and made the most of it. As I raised my kids I tried to follow suit--took them bowling, howled at the full moon with them, got them up in the night to see a meteor shower or the Northern Lights, went for milkshakes at the local malt shop loaded with plenty of quarters for the jukebox, and had sleepovers in our living room the night before Thanksgiving so they were in perfect position for the parade on TV in the morning--and we took a yearly vacation, usually to National Parks in the west. So glad we built those memories. We love to look back on them now and they built strong family ties. Sorry for the lengthy response. Got carried away!

  4. I absolutely love this. Good for you and congratulations on a beautiful family.

  5. Wow I love your back drop on your blog. It looks really great. And I love your costumes, looks like you had fun.


  6. What a great post! You hit the bullseye with this. I get so sad when I see Moms and Dads ignoring their kids. They need our attention and that kind of attention should be fun for everyone.

  7. What will people think? Reading all of those things you listed, I would think you are a great mother having fun with your kid! I learned a long, long time ago that work will always be there, but children grow up quickly. And they always remember those fun things you did with them (for us it usually involved water guns)

  8. What a great post. I am also vy guilty of falling into that what will people think trap, and I hate it.

    Hope you have a wonderful vacation!

    ps LOVE the costumes!!!

  9. Good for you! Your post struck home with me too. I do not PLAY well! My kids are 10 and almost 13 and I am still learning to play. It does not come naturally for me (even as a child) I have to be doing something, play is for when you don't have any thing to DO.... and that is never! So I am glad to see you taking the time to play, I dress up every year for Halloween and it makes my kids so happy. I am also learning to play a few games and we set aside Friday nights for ordering pizza and having family game night. It seems more like work to me still but the kids are thrilled and really cherish the times that we play with them. Good Luck and I agree, who cares what every one else thinks! It really is none of my business!

  10. So glad for your post. Loved the pics!

  11. Leah, you are fortunate to realize this while your son is still young - he now has many years of being with his fun mom! I often think of this concept as a teacher. When I am in my high school class room teaching quilting or sewing or foods, I check myself to make sure that while I still have high educational standards, my students have fun learning the tasks of the day.

  12. Hi Leah,

    Glad you had a wonderful vacation. Btw, I LOVE this quote "What other people think of me is none of my business." I'd like to post it....would the quoter like to be acknowledged or should I just put it up as an "anon".

    Chester, NY

  13. The piece I just read about your vacation and having fun was so touching. I'm going to share it with my daughter who has 3 young children and rarely has "fun". You are an inspiration to me in so many ways.
    Thank you for that article and for your generosity in sharing your quilting talents. I am so appreciative.

  14. You do so much, not just for your family, but for your on-line family too...I'm glad you enjoyed your vacation..because
    And because you also deserve it...
    A GREAT BIG 'THANK YOU' for all that You DO!

  15. I think exactly the same thoughts about my children and playing with them and loving them. It's so scary and wonderful and crazy and fantastic all at the same time. And I play with them and get crazy looks... But then other kids start playing with us too, and the other moms join in sometimes too - that's when it's the most rewarding. Bringing joy to everyone around us just by having fun. Happiness is contagious :) that's how I live. Some of my negative "you're living in a fairy tale world" friends think I'm crazy - but when I had my kids I realized let them think that. I'm happy, my fiancé and my children are happy and that's what counts. They're the ones I come home to every day :) and my son does that falling routine too, he's 19 months right now


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