|The view from the Great Barrington house|
Today I packed up the family into our old kit bags and we took the show on the road.
Not very far. To Great Barrington again, the Berkshires; these old, soft, rolling hills a verdant background to what passes for our family vacation these days.
There is always work going on in the background; laptops and tablets never far from reach.
There are always elderly parents to be worried about.
Two year ago, the morning after we'd arrived we got a seven a.m. phone call. And that turned out as well as you may have guessed. We passed most of our vacation with my husband absent, back in the city dealing with yet another hospitalization for his elderly mother. That one, actually, the beginning of the ending.
I am hoping and praying we will pass five days without an urgent call from my mother's home. That said I know that while my children cavort in the idyllic pool I will be watching them with one eye whilst spending hours on the phone, straightening things out around my mother's situation.
Such is life these days; my heart divided, always, rarely fully present with anyone (least of all myself).
There will be squabbles aplenty, as the boys alone together without any outside, third parties is powder keg territory. To say that Jacob so easily gets on Ethan's very last nerve is an understatement of epic proportion.
To borrow one more cliche: they are oil and water.
Yet also somehow every time we come here a little magic happens in their relationship. They have moments of fun together; cooperation, collaboration, bonds renewed. (And I quietly weep for joy over this when they are not looking.)
I would say it's Jacob getting his sensory needs deeply fulfilled by all that time in the water (he can and will spend all day in the pool) but it has even happened when we come in the winter too.
Already there has been a completely friction-free frisbee game at our favorite watering hole - the Route 7 Grill - where we dined tonight, pulling in road-weary at the end of our travels. (Just 3 hours, but we're NYC folks, not car people, to us this is a big trip!)
We love to eat there because of the fields out back behind the restaurant - an upscale, locavore, roadhouse of a place - where many a game of catch has been played while waiting for the food to arrive. The chef-owners also have a young son, so there are many yellow toy construction vehicles available to work the gravel pit, too.
Pulling up to the house, even in the dark, my spirits lifted. It is so large and beautiful, sitting atop a hill with a majestic view of distant hills behind. My in-laws generosity knows no bounds, inviting us to return year after year, in spite of the chaos our brood inevitably brings to their ordered peace here.
We had been planning to meet them for a late lunch before they returned to the city, but it just took too long to get ourselves ready and out the door with this and that and the other thing needing to be done (taking our show on the road requiring so much more than just tossing some clothes in a bag and hitting go).
The boys disappointment when they realized that in spite of being in their house we would not actually be seeing their beloved Aunt Patty & Uncle Jimmy was palpable. I felt bad, scoured my mind for what I could have done to get us up here sooner, mother-guilt never being far from reach.
But I need to let that go, let myself glide into vacation mode when the long days are filled with sunshine and pool splashes, and hopefully the boys' internecine tendencies will be once again blunted.
Wish us luck.