It was a tradition we had started a few years back. Whenever someone in our family had a birthday coming up, they got to choose whether they wanted gifts or an adventure. Since I had just reached Level 38 in the game of life, I felt an adventure was in order. I have stuff. A ridiculous amount. I wanted memories.
We didn’t go far. Adventures don’t always require distance. My husband and I Googled our little hearts out and found an idyllic seaside town not even an hour away. It had all the requirements.
1. A beach.
2. A place close to the beach that sold alcohol.
Better yet, we found a quirky little inn that still had rooms available. An inn that was the perfect blend of charming and yet definitely haunted, but haunted by the ghost of Lorelai Gilmore. I immediately fell in love.
It was everything a small getaway should be. Even the constant sibling fighting added an air of authentic vacation whimsy.
“Ah, we’re going to miss this when they get older.” I sighed to my husband as we sat on the beach and watched our daughter throw sand directly into her brother’s eyes.
“Yes, these moments when they’re still small enough to lack the strength to actually murder each other are truly magical,” replied my husband as we then watched our son retaliate by hitting his sister over the head with some driftwood.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. As we were packing up to leave the following morning on our second night there, the whining started. Right on time.
“But MOM! We don’t WANT to go HOME.” my 5-year-old wailed, splayed dramatically on the bed.
“MOMMA! Can we live here now?” my almost 3-year-old helpfully chimed in as she mimicked her brother’s splaying.
“Guys, you know we have to leave tomorrow.”
Simultaneous groans. The only thing they had agreed on the entire time.
“Can we stay just one more night?”
“Yeah, can we?”
Pffft. Who did these kids think they were dealing with? Not in the mood to argue about this for the next 45 minutes, I decided to throw the hammer down, saying the two words universally known to decimate the hopes of youths everywhere. The verbal nuclear option, if you will.
And that was that.
Until it wasn’t that. It wasn’t that at all. Because out of nowhere, my husband whipped out a homemade missile defense system built out of only three words.
“Are you sure?”
Was I sure? WAS I SURE? Who did this guy think he’d knocked up on multiple occasions? Of course I was sure. We couldn’t possibly stay one more night. We had to get home and…do things. Like…important things. Important things like…THE DOG. Yeah. We have a dog and there is no way…
“I mean, we could see if the dog sitter can stay one more night.”
“And the owner mentioned to me earlier that he doesn’t have the room booked again until next week.”
“And I know what you’re thinking, but we can afford it. I worked all that overtime last month.”
“What do you think?”
What did I think? What did I THINK? I think the mom part of me was holding up a giant banner over my brain that said “ABSOLUTELY NOT.” As she so often did. Because the mom part of me is inundated with 300 ridiculous requests a day. Can I jump off the roof? What if I wear a cape? Can we have candy for breakfast? Can we put makeup on the dog? Can we lick this old gum on the sidewalk?
So, “absolutely not” was the only possible answer to all of these. It was a survival technique really. But, because of this, how many times did I say no to things just out of sheer habit?
And that’s when I heard her. The non-mom part of me. The part of me that was slowly being smothered underneath the pile of unfolded laundry in my soul. She was straining to be heard as she whispered “what if you said yes?”
Meanwhile, while my brain was short-circuiting, the three of them were standing there, staring at me expectantly.
“Well, I guess there’s no harm in seeing if the dog sitter can stay one more night,” I finally sputtered out.
“But I doubt the owner will just let us stay another night at the last minute.”
Again, six eyes stared expectantly at me.
“So can we, mom?”
“Yeah, can we?”
Can we? What would one more day mean? One more trip to the beach. One more dinner at a place where the wine paired perfectly with deep fried everything. One more day to make memories I will probably forget but Instagram will remember forever.
I stared back at them. I smiled. And I decided then and there to drop my bad habit like a bad habit.