Leaving Martha’s Vineyard

24 Aug 2012

written by Carolyn


I know you’re not supposed to spend the day before the last day of vacation in tears.

Yet here I am, silently weeping as I sit on the bed, typing. My 11-year-old son is sleeping next to me. This is probably the last year we’ll be able to share a room, let alone a bed. When you notice your little boy gets morning wood, you realize he may officially be too old to sleep in the same bed as you.

We first started vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard eight years ago, when my daughter was seven and my son was three. Back then, the vacation – wasn’t. It was a week of experiencing the stay-at-home-mom life, and mostly hating it. We’ve always rented a house for a week with other families and their children. And children need to be kept engaged while on vacation. They aren’t content to just lounge around in bed and on beach chairs – at least, my kids aren’t. We parents would divide and conquer. The athletic moms coordinated bike rentals and activities like parasailing and kayaking. The more sedentary moms, like me, took the kids mini golfing at Island Cove, arranged private gymnastics lessons at Island Gymnastics, and bought seafood dinners at Larsen’s so we could watch the sunset on Menemsha Beach.

Eight years ago, my daughter learned to ride a bike on Martha’s Vineyard. This year, she’s asking me for driving lessons. My son also chose not to get a bike this year. He puts on his Rollerblades and goes out by himself. I don’t follow him to see where he goes. I’m just happy he comes back in one piece.

Yesterday, I took the kids – all the kids – to play mini golf. They had fun, but I could tell it would be one of the last times we did it. They didn’t even bother to write down their scores. There was a prize, of sorts, for a hole in one – a free bucket of balls, or something. I wasn’t listening all that closely when I paid the cashier. My son got a hole in one.

“Do you want the prize?” I asked.

“Nah, I’m good.”

In years past, my son would beg me every day for money to go to the arcade on Circuit Avenue. He would easily blow $100 at the arcade in a week. This year, after spending $20, he declared himself “over” the arcade. “It’s a waste of money.”

My daughter, meanwhile, just says the island isn’t “teen-friendly.” She won’t say she’s bored, but she is, a little. She put on a dress and makeup to play mini golf. I get it. Sometimes, you want to get dressed up, even if you really have nowhere to go.

Last night, I took my kids out to dinner in Edgartown, and we had a sobering conversation about how the Vineyard has changed for both of them. “It’s like there’s stuff to do for little kids and stuff to do for grownups, but not much in the middle,” my daughter said.

Indeed. Even for my son. He’s still young enough to enjoy the Vineyard, but of course, he’s surrounded by jaded teens, and jaded teenage angst rubs off. His thrill is staying up late with the older boys, doing whatever hoodrat stuff tech geeks do. No one would go the extra step and say they’re over coming to Martha’s Vineyard, but – they’re over it.

And that’s why I’m sitting here on a Friday morning, weeping.

Last night, I wanted to tuck the kids into my mama bird wings and hold them close, just for a moment longer.

“Maybe we’ll do something else next summer. Maybe go to Europe,” I said.

“Maybe,” the kids agreed.

We all stared off into the distance. In my mind’s eye, I saw them small still, running away from sand crabs, braving the big waves at South Beach, coming back home tired and cranky and full of sand – but happy. I saw myself younger, knees less creaky, running alongside them.

I don’t have to let them go just yet. We may even eke out one or two more Martha’s Vineyard summers. But the change is coming. It may have already arrived.

8 Comments on Leaving Martha’s Vineyard

  1. stacywash

    I have a 13 yr old son and like you have realized that we are at a point where things are changing. I have been misty-eyed on several occasions this summer alone, while experiencing his growth. The change has arrived. Let us pray :) .

  2. Angel on a Quest (@AMWLoveWideOpen)

    This was beautiful. It reminds me of the first time my daughter came home from college and then said that she was excited to go back “home,” where home no longer meant that place where she grew up and experienced so many firsts; it was…there…that place where she could grow up and really live experiences that could be her firsts…without us there to always pick up the pieces and keep hurt and harm from finding her.

    On a lighter note, it’s really thrilling to know that you have an entire town named after you and your family (including Paula!). I can’t believe the kids don’t appreciate going to Edgartown. ;)

    *hugs you*

  3. Whitney

    Yes this is the hardest part of parenting to me….letting go. Sounds like you had a good time, hope you took plenty of pictures over the years for great memories.

  4. Lewis Barlow

    Beautiful story. There will be many more great memories to come, though involving different stages in your kid’s lives.

  5. Kelly Virella

    Beautifully written. I’m gonna link to this, Carolyn.

  6. Carolyn

    Please do! Thanks, Kelly!

  7. Katherine

    You tell a sensitive story of seeing your teens outgrow this place of tradition that has shaped your summer vacations. It’s a wonderful telling that may stimulate new ideas and approaches. Why not let the teens help with the planning, use social media to create a space for age- appropriate, safe engagement for teens headed up to MV next summer. Outdoor movies, a teen BBQ celebrations, enhanced by FB meet ups might stimulate more ideas for a few more MV summers. I say let the young folks plan and brainstorm for kind of family experience, whether its MV, Europe, NYC or some other world destination.

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