Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Plans At 50

by Amy Ruhlin 

Guest Blogger Post on: High50


It is now late May, almost Memorial Day, and I realize that I have made no plans for a summer holiday. Ever since my children were  young, I have been planning our summer vacations, spending countless hours each spring researching hotel deals, scanning city maps and reading Fodor’s reviews.

 I love doing it and it has become a part of who I am, a way for me to nurture both my family and myself.  But in these last few weeks of this spring, before summer announces itself with picnics and fireworks, I realize that I have been spending countless hours telling myself that the time when our summer vacations as a family will end is here.

 I tell myself that my daughter is now 20, my son  almost 17;  that they both have summer jobs, their own agendas and  lives;  and that they are nearly grown.

 I tell myself that my husband and I are now 50;  we have retirement accounts, an unpaid mortgage and colonoscopy appointments; and that we are growing old. 

 I tell myself that our family summer vacations are no longer necessary,  practical or relevant, and that we have, all of us together, moved on. It is a lie, but I tell it to myself anyway, in an attempt to be cautious and responsible here at age 50.  And to brace myself for what I know is coming soon: the day when my children will be taking summer vacations of their own.                   
In the midst of  the self defeating talk, I begin to gain some clarity and, with my husband, decide to at least discuss possible plans. I bring up the idea of a trip to California, a trip we have long discussed and long put off. We take out a map and trace a possible route, and suddenly, we are twenty-three again, full of hope and excitement, travelling together along the west coast for the first time.

We tell our 16 year old son our idea and he smiles, his eyes sparkle and he is six again, hearing us say that we will put paper inside the heels of his tennis shoes so that he'll  be tall enough to ride the roller coaster that summer when we visit Universal Studios.

We tell our 20 year old daughter and she squeals with delight.  She is again eight years old, standing in line for Winnie the Pooh's autograph during our first vacation to Disney World.

 I now remember why I have spent all of those hours planning. I realize that our time away is as necessary as summer jobs and doctor's appointments. I now see that we are, all of us together, still here.

This is a truth and I tell it to myself loudly, in an attempt to remind myself that caution and responsibility are among the benefits,  not restrictions,  of being 50;  and that the day my children take vacations of their own is not yet here, and is not now.

Instead, now is this day, the day I realize that we must continue to do what we love, and  nurture ourselves and each other, no matter what our age.


  1. Your post brought back memories of our last (as in final) family vacation.
    The two older teens balked and the young preteen was excited for our Disney trip. It turned out to be one of my fondest memories. And by the way, the teens had a great time.
    I liked the way you described the sparkle in your son’s eyes and your daughter’s squeal as if they were 6 and 8 again.
    Great post.

  2. Thank you Lynda for reading and commenting. I read the latest post on your blog..I am so very sorry for your is hard to imagine that kind of grief. Thank you for your honest writing and remind all of us to be grateful for what we have, it helped me, if that is in any way some small comfort to you. Anne Lamott says 'our stories are our medicine' and I do believe that in telling our honest stories we can help each other. All the best to you on this Memorial Day

  3. oh, goodness, yes. vacations are essential.