Just Heather
Friday Fragments: My First Free Write

My friend Liz participates in Friday Fragments hosted by Mrs.4444—it sounds a lot like an old school backlog bulletfest, but I’m giving it a try today. I started out with the intention of random bullet points, but it turned into more of a free write a la Ordinary & Awesome. I’m going with it, partly because I’m too sick to think of anything better and partly because it gives me something to do while I procrastinate the laundry.

  • We leave today for 3 days in my hometown. I’m part excited, part ambivalent and part dreading it. It will be a tight squeeze at my parents’ house with all the sibs in town, but that’s the part I’m excited about—it’s been awhile since all 4 of us were in town at the same time. There’s a big extended family shindig, though, and I’m not so excited about that. I think there comes a time when you have to realize your extended family is now your siblings, their spouses and children—not the aunts, uncles, cousins and numerous other people you barely recognize anymore. Those are better relegated to a once per year family reunion.
  • On the other hand, I couldn’t be more excited about the family reunion I’m planning for my other extended family. Maybe that’s because I really haven’t seen some of them in yeas (love you, girl—can’t wait to meet your kids!) or maybe it’s just because I like them better. Or, maybe I like them better because I’m not forced to give up my rare weekends home to spend time with the whole lot every visit. Regardless, the family reunion will be fun and my brother, who claimed he wasn’t coming, is being forced to attend my his wife (loving my SIL more and more each year!).
  • It is apparently the season for extended family get togethers. In October, we’ll be heading to North Carolina for a weekend wedding. My in-law issues are no secret so I’m sure it is not surprise to anyone that I am dreading this trip. Not only do I have to stay the weekend in my mother-in-law’s town, but I have to spend a fortune for a trip that won’t be the least bit enjoyable. If I’m going to get in a car, drive 8 hours with 3 kids and spend money on a hotel, there should be some semblance of vacation. Instead, we’ll arrive at our hotel just in time for bedtime, spend Saturday dealing with the wedding and—Lord help me—his mother, then spend Sunday at yet another family thing before heading home because Spencer has crappy vacation time.
  • I dream of a family vacation that I know will never happen. We don’t have the money, we don’t have the time and we don’t have the same goals if we ever crossed those two barriers. I want to see my little girls face light up at Cinderella’s castle before she’s too old to appreciate the magic. I want to see my princess decked out for a dinner inside that same castle. I want to spend some time with my preteen before she’s too cool to enjoy family vacations. I worry the time has already passed us by. Our last vacation was 5 years and 1 kid ago, spent with my family and paid for by my mother. The one before that was split half at Disney and half with my parents at the beach—because it was all we could afford. Never have we taken off, just the 5 of us, and enjoyed even a weekend away.
  • This free write took a much different turn than I had anticipated and I now sit here in tears. It’s all slipping by me faster than I can enjoy it. We’re always so caught up in getting through the days that there seem to be very few memories to catalog in the scrapbook. Where is the extraordinary for my children to look back on and say “Remember when we…?” Will they understand and appreciate that we gave it all up to pay for their education instead? Or will they resent us for working so hard that they have no summer vacation stories to report on the first day of school?
  • I don’t regret my decision in the least. There are no other educational options for my girls. The public school isn’t healthy for them, I would not make a good teacher to them and parochial options are just not something we’d consider. They are where they need to be, but the sacrifice is great. We don’t take vacations, we don’t eat out and can barely afford the month date night needed to maintain our marriage. Part of it is a lack of planning. We weren’t so good with money when we first got together and we still pay for our mistakes. We’re learning to budget better, making hard choices about what is and isn’t important and trying to establish some actual financial goals.
  • I’m also building a business, making an effort to increase our income but spending money along the way. I think we’re doing fabulous things there. It has great potential. It’s just going to take time to build the traffic we need for people to see how truly awesome it is. Time—isn’t that what everything needs? Just a little more time, a little more patience. Patience is not one of my virtues!

    9 Responses to “Friday Fragments: My First Free Write”

    1. This will sound strange, but the stress you have as a parent regarding money, trips, etc. sounds like it could have been written by my parents when I was young. Things don’t have to be filled with moments we THINK are memorable or filled with fun to be awesome. This is why my personal blog is called Ordinary and Awesome, actually. Life is what we make of whatever it is we have. Growing up in the beginning we were rich. We had it all. Then, we lost it all for several reasons that don’t really matter in the end. We had times when we literally had a dollar and some coins until my Dad got paid again. We never took vacations. There were no scrapbook moments. I dont resent my parents, though. I turned out AWESOME! We had eachother and we had love. THAT is what I remember and that made me the strong, loyal, independent, kind, and empathetic woman that I am today. A quote comes to mind:

      “For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination” – Alfred Souza

      Happy FF! I wish you luck with your business venture. :o )

    2. I’m so glad you did FF!

      I can hear your sadness, Heather. And it makes me sad!

      We’ve done one “real” family vacation when we went to Sesame Place. I gave it up this summer for the playset-that-hasn’t-been-built. We WILL go next summer. My share of our tax return will go towards it completely if that is what it takes to make it happen. The experience we had last summer was worth every penny we spent. I think it’s “easier” for us to find a way to afford it because I’ve yet to NOT have to pay for daycare or school for my kids.

      My mom was a single mom until I was 10. When she and my dad married, he wasn’t a family vacation kind of guy. So we didn’t do family vacations. And that’s part of why they feel so important to me. Why it’s something I value. Jeff had them and doesn’t care. I didn’t have them and I DO care! I don’t hold anything against my folks for not doing vacays… but between not having them myself and having such a fantastic time last year… it’s something I value and make a priority.

      Hugs to you… Try to remember to appreciate the right now. This is all we have, really. Now is what matters- not what’s behind us, not what’s ahead of us.

    3. I, too, have MIL issues. So I feel your pain there. Your children will love and appreciate you whether they get to go on vacations or not. You only can do what you can. And by making sure that they have an education after high school is more valuable than any vacation. I enjoyed reading your fragments! I hope you have a great weekend!!

    4. I feel as if I could have written your fragment about vacations too. We have yet to take a vacation as a family, and I feel the days slip by faster than what I want too. I long for the ability to make memories like I have as a child…but Sara has a great point.

      You are doing the best that you can for them…and that is what matter’s.

      Have a great weekend!

    5. I know this wasn’t where you intended for this post to go, but I’m so glad you let it flow and posted it anyway. It’s so refreshingly honest. I know what you mean about writing that tuition check every month. I look at those numbers and imagine the myriad of places that money could go. I’ve been feeling a bit bitter myself about the fact that our little family hasn’t been on a vacation together since Eli was born. But think about how happy your girls are in school. How much of their lives is spent at school, and what impact will having such a positive experience and environment have on their potential. A vacation is a few days out of the year, while they have to spend the majority of the year in school. What if they were miserable, but it was free? Would it be worth it? I know it’s hard to be objective when you’re looking at your own life. For what it’s worth, when I see you and your kids, or hear about things you’ve been doing with your kids, I sense joy and a family that values each other. That’s what your children will remember. Keep it up and remember: live like no one else so that one day you can live like no one else.

    6. Love you Heather and can’t wait to see you all soon!

    7. You know, there are things in your day to day that are making memories. A friend of mine just went through one with me and my sister – just a few hours ago. She talked about the day we went to see a movie and my sister came over to babysit. She paid my sister with a bag of Skittles! It makes me laugh now. My sister even finds it funny, but that’s all she wanted.

      I hope that you enjoy your family gatherings, even though you are dreading some of it :)

    8. Fragments/Freewrites…it’s all good. Glad you got all of that off your chest! Family can be a blessing and a curse sometimes, unfortunately.

      My kids are in high school now, and we have only taken one major vacation in our life, but we have lots of fun memories they will look back on with a smile. This summer, we didn’t go camping once, which made me feel bad (our son will go off to college next fall-I worry that we’ve missed our last chance to have fun camping as a family, so we’ve scheduled a weekend for the end of September. It’s going to be cold, but I hope it’s at least dry! Your kids, too, can have fun memories from things that don’t cost much. Heck, you could camp in your own back yard-my husband has slept in a tent with the kids at 15 below zero in the back yard, just for fun. You could also do some volunteering together; that’s always fun and memorable.

      My family has a reunion every two years that lasts an entire weekend and is a blast! We have a talent show, family “olympics,” and omlettes for a crowd. Let me know if you need any ideas! :)

      Have a great rest-of-your weekend!

    9. Awww, cuz. Hugs, hugs, hugs. Let me say this re: the family vacation thing. When I was a kid we took one, two-week family vacation every year. Not to Disney, not to the Big Apple, not to Aruba, not to Yosemite–TO VINCENNES. And you know what? I frickin’ loved it. Every minute of it.

      Chris and I have been saying that we need to go on a vacation for the last ten years. Have we done it? Nope. Did we have a Honeymoon? Nope. Someday . . . anyhow, I write this to mean that sometimes I think a vacation would be nice, but even after a three day visit ANYWHERE, the ONLY place I want to be is home.

      We are flying out to Tulsa for four days next week to see my Grandfather PPO (Mom’s Dad) and then out to you all for four days in Oct. That will be A LOT of vacation for us. Will it be exotic? Nope. Exciting? Maybe not. Will it be filled with love? Laughter? Giggling children? A hug for my cuz? YUP.

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