When the pressures of life swirl around you, seeming to assault from every angle, have you ever felt an intense, urgent desire to escape?
At the height of our crises, I had neither time nor energy to contemplate getting away with my family. The thought of packing one more suitcase – even for a supposedly fun event instead of the hospital – would have overwhelmed and undone me. But if I had been able to muster enough gumption to get it done, I would’ve rounded up the family and headed to a Great Wolf Lodge.
We’d never been to one before April of this year. Friends had occasionally mentioned it here and there over the years, and after having staying there, I found myself wishing I’d realized earlier not only what a great place it is but also what an enjoyable respite it would’ve been during our difficult times.
Respite is crucial to surviving severe, long-lasting storms.
Respite is also helpful for living out the mundane well. With all the stressors of daily life, taking some down time to recharge the battery is important. I would argue that every family benefits greatly from annual vacationing, allowing them an opportunity to close out another year while celebrating its highs and the lows, pushing reset while having fun, refreshing themselves in order to best face the coming year.
We visited the Mason, OH location during Easter break and enjoyed every single second. When we arrived at midnight, the front desk attendant distributed three sets of wolf ears along with the room keycards and waterpark wristbands.
Wristbands. My heart caught in my throat.
I loathed and loved them all at once. For years, Christian and I had worn similar hospital bracelets 24-7 that matched our children’s ICU wristbands. With these coded bands, we’d had access to one of the world’s best children’s hospitals, the closest parking lot, and (in the early days) a cafeteria discount. We were grateful for the opportunity to give our children the best shot they could get.
Yet I’d hated every minute of the wearing.
Those wristbands served as a constant reminders that our children might die. It’s amazing how one little pink fluorescent strip can evoke such violent emotion, a blaring and inescapable reminder of the mortality of a child.
My eyes welled with tears as I received mine from the Great Wolf Lodge attendant. I could only nod when she asked to cut the remainder of the fastening strip from my wrist. This was the first time in a long time I’d worn a happy bracelet.
It felt good.
I headed back to the car and passed out the wolf ears. Smiles spread across sleepy faces. Joy erupted as we entered our room, and the kids scattered all around, inspecting everything from their bunk area in the kid cabin to the pink bottles of body wash on the bathtub.
Our stay was fantastic. We did the waterslides and the ice cream parlor, the wave pool and the arcade, the gift shop and the in-house Dunkin’ Donuts. The best part about the whole setup was accessibility. If the kids needed to nap after hitting the waterpark for four hours, we simply walked up to our room. If we got hungry between meals, the snack center within the waterpark served many delicious organic choices, as well as typical park fare. If we wanted to buy anything, we simply scanned our bracelets and billed our account.
It crossed my mind how convenient everything was and also would have been in the height of crisis. We didn’t have to schlep to the car or lug our wallets with us. We didn’t have to manage towels and snack bags or figure out how to carry extra water, medicine, and ice in a cooler. We didn’t have to worry about the cares left behind and could slip into blissful anonymity within the crowd.
We didn’t have to think about anything. After all the years of multi-tasking, strategic planning, and over-drive, we simply relaxed, had fun, and felt completely taken care of.
Five stars, all-around.
Thank you, Great Wolf Lodge, for a safe and fun adventure. Thank you, Morgan Family, for sharing your laughter and love, Thank you, Lord, for our family and for precious memories that will last a lifetime.
Praying you and yours get to enjoy some respite time together soon . . . hopefully this summer and every year beyond.
If you’d like to see The Morgan Family – Great Wolf Lodge – 2017 Vacation movie Christian made (he did a great job, by the way – he even created his own music on GarageBand!), please check out the following link: