Spring break 2021: A Different Sort of Break

We just spent a week in the gulf Shores of Alabama for Spring Break 2021. After the year we’ve had, we figured we were due for a break and we planned to make it as COVID safe as possible. I rented a house right across the street from the beach and we planned on doing what we do at home, isolating very carefully, but in a more warm and sunny location.

But, the week before we were set to leave, Brady began to really struggle with his mental health, and he refused to come with us. What do we do now? He is 17-years-old, not yet a legal adult, and he is struggling. We’ve never been in this situation before. So, we did the best we could, and one of us chose to stay with him. As you can imagine, this caused a lot of pain and confusion for the other kids. That’s where we’re at, in a whole lot of pain and pretty confused by what is happening in our home.

I have spoken to a few wise people who have lived through this with their kids though, and the best choice was to re-distribute some of the load so that I didn’t become a martyr and to carry on with the fun. So, that’s what I did. I am really grateful to Ally, Cam and AJ. They became my ride or die road crew as I drove all the kids south for 14 hours. It’s pretty amazing how one of the worst moments of your life can change some of the relationships you have for the better. This would be an example of that. I saw what these three are capable of, and damn if it isn’t some amazing things.

FPM, Becky, a white woman, sitting on the stairs with her eldest children, all Black. Ally is a Black woman in a pink hoodie with her hair in twists. Cam is a Black man with short hair in a red hoodie. AJ is a Black man with his hair in short twists. He is wearing a black tee.

They helped with our usual roadside picnic lunches, making sandwiches, shuttling kids to the bathrooms, making sure everyone’s hands were sanitized at all points.

A family gathered around a picnic table under a shelter at a highway rest stop. The family is eating lunch of sandwiches and potato chips.

We pulled up to the beach house late in the day on the second day of driving. I was pretty proud of me too. I have never driven this far on my own. And, I did it, with no major disasters.

11 children standing on the outdoor decks of a beach house. They are positioned on two decks, one lower and one upper. They are looking at the camera, smiling or waving.

We hit the beach for a walk pretty much right after we unpacked. I made it super low key. Come if you want to, stay at the house and nap if you don’t want to. Whenever you want to spend time with us is great. That felt good, and once they settled in at the beach, they pretty much decided to live there.

A selfie of FPM, Becky, on the beach. Behind her are all here children making funny faces and holding up peace signs.
Tess, a small Asian girl, sitting on the beach playing with sand toys. She is sitting on a colorful mat in the sand. She is wearing a brightly colored life vest and swim suit.

We did some other things too though. A lot of them involved seafood, which Gigi has found a new love for. Ally helped with all the cooking.

A pan full of peeled shrimp sautéing in butter.
Gigi, a small Asian girl, wearing a khaki cap with a pink hoodie pulled up over it, smiles for the camera. She smiling widely over a plate of shrimp and waffle fries with ketchup.

AJ and Cam helped the little kids go fishing nearly every day. We caught nothing, but oh my gosh, she was in her happy place. Being Deaf makes her totally comfortable just sitting in silence, so that is what she did, as she waited for the fish to bite.

Gigi, a small Asian girl, wearing a khaki cap with a blue hoodie pulled over it sits on a dock holding a fishing pole. AJ, a Black teenager, stands next to her. He is wearing a gray hoodie, sweatpants and slides.

Cate BEGGED for family game night, because that is something she is used to on any family beach vacation. Cam honored that and helped lead a rousing game of left/right/center. That is not silent at all. There is so much yelling involved in this game. Candy is at stake. They take it very seriously. Well, all except Isa, who can be seen here eating her game pieces.

A family is gathered around a long table, they are playing a game with dice, each person has a few small pieces of candy in front of them.

These three middle children hung out together nearly every day and stepped in where they could, emptying the dishwasher and sweeping up when it came time to help clean up. I appreciate seeing them go from middle to big as their older siblings begin to move on and build their own lives outside our home. I also love the friendship I see forming here.

A selfie of three children, all Black. They are smiling into the camera as they stand close together.

These two went to bed exhausted every night, and because they both communicate in the same native language, they have been forced into friendship. That forced friendship has become innate now. They fight like cats and dogs still, but that’s sisters for you, and that is what they have become. Sisters.

Two small girls, one Asian and one Black, are tucked together into a bed with white linens. They are sound asleep and cuddling.

Even though it wasn’t the Spring Break 2021 we pictured, it was the one we got, and it turned out to be the one we needed. FPD did alright too. Before we left, I reached out to my amazing village on social media and organized a meal train. FPD was well fed and he spent the week doing what he loves, running crazy amounts of miles. He connected with and supported Brady in a way that still feels all kinds of wrong to us as parents, but it is what Brady says he needs, so we’re going to try to trust that he knows himself.

–FullPlate Mom, who spent Spring Break 2021 planning Spring Break 2022, when FPD will join us again.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: