This year, my family went on a repeat vacation. Now, I think a lot of families go to the same beloved location each year as a matter of course. We've never visited the same place twice before. This year, we returned to upstate New York. We got a picture of my daughter by the same stalactite in Howe's Cavern that we did when she was four. My son refused to recreate the picture of himself hugging Taughannock Falls. I wanted to recreate the picture of my daughter falling asleep on my husband's shoulders, but he refused to let her climb up on there, and I have to admit, the whole exercise probably would have injured them both.
Moms generally end up carrying everybody's stuff. Historically, we have carried a bulky purse or a diaper bag, so it's a no-brainer. I don't carry a purse on vacation. When the kids were small, I carried them for large chunks of every day. After all, if you plan to sightsee for miles every day, the wee ones will need a little help. Or a lot of help. I think of it as an exercise regimen, and it was a point of pride with me that I could carry them as long as they needed. By my son's twelfth birthday, I called a halt to it. He weighed almost as much as I did by that time, and he had the physical wherewithal to keep up on his own.
Oh, nostalgia, you pernicious beast! At Fort Ticonderoga, my boy waxed melodramatic. His feet were tired. Wouldn't I carry him? He didn't expect I would. Or did he? So far, he had refused to recreate a single moment. Did he know I wouldn't be able to resist picking him up like I had done so many times before? Did he understand I would rise to the challenge?
And so, I crouched and held my hands out to grab his legs. He hesitated a little, but then he climbed onto my back like a possum (or a moose, but they don't carry their young that way) and I walked half a dozen steps before he started to sag and I feared we'd tip over backward. When I tried to put him down, he didn't let go, and we had a screaming moment--I screamed, he laughed--before he relented and let his feet down.
Immediately after, the little one had to be carried, too. She has to do everything he does, and she's still smaller than me, so I carried her quite a ways.
I have a 16-year old and an 18-year old. I can still pick them up and carry them around, and since it's a joke, it's okay. They're my babies. I don't ever want to let them go, and I consider it a blessing that they don't want to leave me. Someday, though, they'll go. I can't carry them forever, and though I'm sure they'll check in if they need something, they'll develop separate lives. It's the way things are supposed to be.
How many more family vacations will happen with the four of us? I'll carry on as long as I can.