We did it! We survived another family vacation. We even have the lost teeth to prove it.

When our family of six goes anywhere, it’s an adventure...even if it’s just to Sneaky Pete’s for breakfast. Everyone knows we are there, and I guarantee they know when we leave. I feel as though this is the same for Gulf Shores after this past week.

It was a mixture somewhere between the Brady Bunch and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of crankiness, a lot of spats and a whole lot of family love.

Growing up we always took some type of family vacation. Whether it was to the beach, to Disney World or to the Grand Canyon, all five of us would pile up in an over-packed truck with a camper shell on the back and carpet put down for the children and head on those long road trips. 

Kids today don’t even know how good they have it. I watched as our girls adjusted their individual air vents to the temperature and the angle they so desired. 

We watched the movies of their choice on the car DVD player. They played games on their tablets and we chose exactly which songs we wanted to listen to and which order we desired on the radio thanks to our new aged world. 

They will never know the pains of sitting in the back of a truck with no air and begging their parents to slide open the glass so they could stick their heads in for relief. They couldn’t begin to understand the pains of getting half way through a rather intense game of Monopoly when one sharp curve throws all pieces to the tailgate and the game is devistatedly ended. They won’t know the real pain of a true family vacation, but I suppose they will have horror stories to tell of our vacations to their children one day.

When we first arrived at Gulf Shores we decided to hit a hot spot right off the top, so we dipped into the Hangout to experience the fun games, good food and beach-front beauty. As we sat back waiting on our food, my daughter, Raygan, said that her tooth felt loose. It hadn’t been loose on the trip down so I didn’t think anything about it, until she was holding it in her hand right across the table from me. I gasped and then did what any good mother does. I told her to hold it up so I could put it on Facebook. We laughed about it and I asked the waitress if she was the first sober person to lose a tooth there. She said that was absolutely the case.

The next day we took on the world when we ventured to Waterville with all four girls. They were so excited that I’m pretty sure the complaints didn’t begin until after about 2 p.m., and that’s a new record around our house.

As we sneaked back to the car for some late afternoon snacks and a cool down, Raygan said her gum was bleeding. I figured it was just where she had lost her tooth yesterday and explained it away in typical great-mom fashion....until she, yet again, gasped and said, “Momma, my tooth came out!” What in this world! My daughter lost two teeth in two days while on vacation. Was something in the water there? Again, I did what all responsible parents do and snapped a photo while consoling her and trying to come up with reasons that her teeth seemed to be falling straight out of her head.

Parenting can be challenging, and there are no manuals on it, but if you let your guard down, even at the beach, those kids will attack your weaknesses and bring you down. As we allowed them to be even more loud than normal, we realized that the volume wasn’t the issue, it’s the severity with which they play. The louder they get, the rougher they get. The rougher they get, the quicker you hear the first whimpers of cries. And those are quickly followed by slaps and screams and squeals and tattling. If this last paragraph hasn’t sold you on becoming a parent, I don’t know what will. Nothing says, “We’re having a blast on vacation.” quite like having to put four little girls on silent treatment while sitting in the car dressed in swim suits and heading to the beach. Do you know how hard it is to be the mean momma while covered in sun tan lotion and wearing a float around your waist?

But as I think back, that’s how a lot of our family vacations went while we were growing up. My sister and I would fight like cats and dogs one minute and be each other’s “twinsies for life” the next. It’s part of the dynamics of a great family. We fight together; we love together; we are together.

I am so grateful for the wonderful memories we were able to make on this beach trip, and I wouldn’t give anything in this world for the time we all got to be together.

Don’t let this column scare you away from family vacations. Let it encourage you to make those memories, even if they seem strained at the moment. We are already looking back and laughing together about the events of the week. 

This Week's Circulars