Family Vacation Minus 1

La Playa de la Concha, San Sebastian - Pais Basco

La Playa de la Concha, San Sebastian - Pais Basco


               I have just printed out my almost 400 photos from our recent family vacation – well reality is that it was more like our family vacation minus 1. The girls, my parents, and I went off on our yearly trip to Galicia to see family. Although I have traveled to Galicia with the girls solo before – this year was like no other.

                Every year, I look forward to the month of August. I go visit my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins in the beautiful countryside of Galicia. Also a place where my girls can run free playing with their cousins from sun up to sun down – that being almost 10pm every night there! August is also the month of “Festas” in Galicia. Every little town and every big city celebrates some patriot or saint. Carnivals, fireworks, music, and food surround you at this time of year.

                Usually when we visit Galicia we normally stay in our home and see the same cities and sites as past years. (It has been this way since I was a wee little one year old) But this year, my parents actually decided to do a road trip across to San Sebastian to visit my mother’s cousins. I was excited at the thought of finally doing something out of the norm this year. It was a long dreaded 10 hour drive with two little ones awake the entire time but the end result was spectacular. San Sebastian is a gorgeous city – resembling a mini Paris! And the beach, La Playa de La Concha, is absolutely stunning. We enjoyed ourselves of course, but every step I took and every picture I snapped all I could say in my head was: “I wish he was here with us.”

                Even up to the days before leaving on our flight everything about the trip felt different. To begin with I didn’t even enjoy shopping for things we needed and especially packing for the trip. The day of departure to me felt like it was my last day on earth! No matter what people told me – I could not calm my nerves about flying. I even cried the night before, the morning of, and right before take-off. Well, I obviously survived the flight (and back) but it made me question myself – why am I so nervous this year?  I mean – seriously – I have been flying since I was in diapers! Sheesh!

                Once in Galicia, the unfamiliar feelings continued. I was not able to allow myself to fully enjoy my vacation outside of being with my family at home. I had no true interest in shopping for myself (this is one of my favorite things to do in Galicia!) or enjoying good ‘Albarino’ wine with my cousins. There were times that I just wanted to lay in bed in pajamas all day and stay there – ignoring the fact that I was surrounded by gorgeous mountains, beaches, towns, and greenery that I could be taking advantage of.

                Coming home however, I didn’t find myself that nervous, but instead saddened at the reminder that even though it is another regular vacation I normally take solo with my girls, this year my husband would not be waiting for us at home. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to being back in my routine with my girls. Why? I have no idea – because really there is nothing glamorous about.

                Glancing over all the pictures made want to dig deeper into my emotions about this trip. I wondered and probed my own mind to try and figure out why this year was so different.  I spent some time today reflecting back on my days in Galicia using the photographs as my timeline. As I went through each picture, recalling each moment, I came to realize that it was nothing but the feeling of guilt in enjoying my vacation while my husband is deployed. It troubled my mind, heart, body, and soul. It was the guilt that kept me from having a good time and it came from me and only me.

                My own husband, days before the trip, even reminded me to take pleasure in the vacation and to consider it a break from our routine. But it was the routine I wanted because it came without the guilt. Now thinking of it, I wonder how many other spouses on the homefront feel the same way when taking their children – or even a solo – trip while our husbands are deployed. That feeling of being this horrible selfish wife that wants to have pleasure and (oh gawd) ‘FUN’ – how dare she! The wife of a man deployed enjoying herself??– Oh the shame!

                Now looking back I find it all quite amusing. I couldn’t control my emotions at that instant but there is no reason for me to feel guilty and I know that. My husband never made me feel that way nor the ones around me – it was only that little anxiety-driven-stressed out elf on my shoulder that whispers in my ear every now and then that I apparently only hear and feel. It is surreal to assume that a wife of a deployed service member should be stuck in a web of routine day in and day out. In doing that we would do no good not only for our own emotional and physical health but that of our children’s as well.

                Life will happen around us if we decide to move with it or not. It’s okay to have a little ‘fun’ every so often – guilt free – it’s good for us (everyone actually)! It is a gift I am extremely grateful for just to know that we are given another day of good health and another day we are still together (even if there a thousands of miles between us). I vow to permit myself to have some guilt-free fun with my daughters from this day forth because my daily escapades should be no different than if my husband is home or deployed. The love I have for my husband and family is beyond verbal expression and the respect, admiration, commitment, honor, and devotion will never be absent just because our family is minus 1 for that moment.