September is a time of transition for most. For parents, it’s a time not only for recuperation, but also emotional and spiritual healing from the wounds of summer family vacations. Some say this period of healing lasts until the beginning of the next summer. This is because the vision you summon when booking your next great summer vacation is pretty much a pipe dream, especially if you have young children.


This summer, my extended family planned a long weekend retreat at a beautiful Air BNB in the Hill Country. It had it all, including a huge patio and river access. We dreamt of scenes in which the kids would gather on the dock, laughing gleefully with one another while kicking their feet in the blue-green waters.


But what I didn’t dream of was a stomach bug, the reality of sharing one bathroom with five small boys, and my children’s reaction to river water.


If you’re sitting on the edge of the Guadalupe River just south of Canyon Lake, you can still hear the echoes of my children’s blood curdling screams. Four veins popped out of my 5-year-old’s neck. Both forgot how to move or talk and just shrieked a sound that would terrify Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” It was so cold it also paralyzed their brain functions. Just half an hour after their first river submersion, my 2-year-old said, “I want to go swimming!”


And nothing says “family vacation” like trying to shush a toddler who is screaming bloody murder in the middle of the night because his “booty butt” hurts and he can’t poop right. He didn’t agree with my assessment that maybe he shouldn’t have eaten five pieces of pizza for dinner.


But we survived and came home with a weekend full of memories— and a few less pairs of 2T underwear. Now, we head into September a little weary. But we’re also super pumped because we already picked our next year’s beach house.


Carrie Taylor is a freelance writer, editor and mother of three.

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