This August my husband and I stepped away from our busy work routines to spend several days on Cape Cod. Our mini-vacation was hastily planned, but delivered a refreshing respite from the usual schedule back home.
For me, Cape Cod holds many memories, going all the way back to childhood summers when my parents rented a cottage in East Orleans. My brother and I would trudge to the beach nearly every day with our peanut butter sandwiches and beach towels, play capture the flag with neighborhood kids in the backyard after dinner and cheer on the Orleans Cardinals (now the Firebirds) at the Cape Cod Baseball League games on Tuesday nights at Eldridge Park.
We were given a lot of freedom to do as we pleased in those days. Like most parents in prior generations, ours didn’t hover, leaving us to our own devices. Their vacation demands were reduced to a short list that included rinsing the sand off our feet before we entered the house and taking time every day to read a book. My mother insisted our first stop after the grocery store should be the local library, where we’d sign up for a summer library card, insuring we’d have plenty of pages to fill those long, breezy Cape afternoons. I can still recall my first forays into classic novels like Gone With the Wind and Watership Down, then, as I got older, exploring greats like Exodus, Angle of Repose and The Color Purple. In my memories, summers stretched on indefinitely, each day identical to the one before, marked only by the change of titles on my bedside table.
When our children were born, my husband and I chose to build our own summer traditions down on the Cape. Like me, my kids had their first dip in the ocean on Nauset Beach and spent many hours digging holes and building sand castles along the shores of Pilgrim Lake and White Pond. Although we skipped a few years here or there, nostalgia, along with the region’s natural beauty, kept pulling us back. Today, my kids are almost grown, but when I’m down there, glimmers of those earlier times seem to wait for me around every corner.
I told myself this “solo voyage” to Cape Cod without the kids was good practice for our pending empty nest. And there were some things I liked very much—the slower pace, making plans for dinner without so many opinions to consider and having as much uninterrupted time as I wanted to read my book. Yet, unlike my husband, who settled into vacation mode immediately, I’ll admit to feeling a little off-balance throughout our stay, as if I couldn’t quite readjust to shedding my “mom” identity. It’s going to take some time for me to get used to this new dynamic. Meanwhile, I’m already looking forward to future vacations with all of us together again, whenever that may be. In my heart, summers on the Cape will always be about family.
Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, Anne started WomenSpaces, a blog about home, family and personal relationships. We continue that tradition here, profiling pieces written by women who have come together through Richardson Media Group.