OK that last part is kind of my own personal neurosis. Whatever.
I suffer from a chronic case of FOMO - but mine is sort of retroactive. I have KIMO - Knowing I Missed Out. And it really sucks.
This summer alone, I have scrolled through countless photos of my friends' and acquaintances' cross-country vacations, family get-togethers, spur-of-the-moment daytrips and local adventures. I've seen action shots of siblings of all ages, arms around each other, playing in the surf or posing at the top of a mountain. I've seen captured moments of a brother and sister leaned up against each other sleeping in the car after a long day of swimming, husbands and wives arm and arm spouting their endless love for each other despite "the years of ups and downs", and tearful reunions of family members from across the globe.
I often have asked my son over the past few years if he'd like to go on a vacation. Since he's a teenager, his response is usually the same. "Could I bring a friend?" And then, because he's such a compassionate kid, he'll say, "But then who would you have?"
As fun as it would be to have a traveling companion, I don't NEED one. But bringing a friend is literally a logistical nightmare. His friends seem to have jam-packed summers with their own family vacations, traveling baseball teams, friends and relatives visiting from out of town, even summer school.
Last week, after wistfully perusing another Facebook family vacation album, I said, "We should do a family vacation." His response was, "Well, we don't have much of a family."
He's right. We don't. And I'm sorry for that.
When I "had" a family, we didn't take big trips - the kids were young and my ex and I divorced when my oldest was seven, but we did manage a trip to Disney together AFTER we were divorced. Neither of us wanted to miss out on the kids' experience there and there were no significant others to explain it to, so why not? And it was wonderful and amazing and not that awkward, surprisingly.
It was the best vacation I've ever taken - in part, because I felt like part of a family, doing things that I had wanted my family to do.
When that relationship ended, so did the travel. Granted, my kids were getting older and they are four years apart. My oldest went down a bad path and money that could have been spent on airline tickets and amusement park admissions went to his issues, and traveling as a "family" meant tear-filled visits to Colorado and Montana with my ex-husband. Not really my idea of a great time, though I will say the least difficult part was traveling with my ex. I'm lucky in that respect.
I always wanted one of those cabins up in Wisconsin or in the Ozarks. I have it pictured in my head - it's on the lake, with a dock and big Adirondack chairs where we sit and have campfires and watch the sunset. Every year around the same time we pack up the car and head out for our two-week stay, and the kids look forward to it just as much as Christmas. Sometimes they bring friends; sometimes other family members join in the fun. A tradition. A family vacation - guaranteed at least once a year.
This isn't the kid of family dynamic I ever wanted. I did my best when the kids were young but I wish I would have done more. I wish things would have turned out differently. I will always wonder how much of what I did and didn't do during their lives led to how my kids developed, the choices they made and how they feel about each other now. I regret that I didn't give them the memories that I wanted them to have so badly.
For all of you who are taking family vacations, I know they're a lot of work. I know it's not all smiles and kids running into the surf hand in hand, and Kumbaya around the campfire. But cherish every single moment anyway.
I'd give anything to be in your shoes, because I certainly, regrettably KIMO.