I'm writing this from a hotel bed in Charleston, South Carolina. On each of the double beds are kids 4, 5 and 6 all half asleep and more than half sunburned.
We are wore out from our quick weekend vacation/graduation to Charleston to see Kid 2 graduate Naval Nuclear Engineering School.
Side note: This graduation is a BIG deal! The fail/drop out rate for nuclear engineering is some crazy high number but MY KID MADE IT!
Since the divorce five years ago -- and I can't believe it's actually been five years already -- family vacations have been few and far between. These past couple years vacations were actually trips to see Kid 2 graduate Navy boot camp and Kid 3 graduate Army boot camp.
These vacations / graduations have also been funded and supported with the generosity and help of my dad, the kids grandfather.
Today we spent the day at the beach. We parked our toes in the sand a little before 8am and didn't leave until 2pm. It was a tiring, long, hot and fabulous day.
I needed this day. My family needed a day like this.
A day to "vacation like other families", a day to swim and laugh and play before Kid 2 moves on to his next duty station and we probably won't see him for a while.
As we were jumping through the waves today, Kid 2 and I got to talking about the old days. The days of real family vacations spent in beach side hotels. Vacations where budget were much looser and vacation days much longer than a weekend. Vacations where there was a dad in the picture.
But, much to my relief, they weren't sad or bitter memories. We reminisced about the good times and were finally able to laugh at the bad times. When the memory of a good time turned to a memory of it being ruined by their dad's alcoholism or anger, we didn't dwell in that bad moment. We acknowledged it and moved on.
I hope this is a sign of not only recovery for my kids and myself, but also that those bad times haven't damaged us all too bad.
Make no mistake, damage was done. Alcoholism, addiction and anger always damage everyone around them.
But, maybe, at least I hope, that the damage is healing and we are moving forward. Happier and healthier.