For 18 years, we have been vacationing with my extended family at my father's house at the the Jersey Shore. Before that, when I was growing up in Philadelphia, I spent many summer weeks there at rental houses with my parents, or in later years, living with friends there and working at summer jobs.
This week will be our last one vacationing at the Jersey Shore. My father announced he is selling his house. At age 76, he and his wife are understandably ready to simplify their lives.
I will not so much miss the house as I will miss the place and the memories we have made there over the years. It is the place I remember my late mother happily bouncing my sandy babies on her lap, where I longed for a beach vacation that didn't require my car to be packed to the gills with "baby stuff." It is the place where we ate soft ice cream as fast as we could to keep it from melting, thick slices of pizza dripping with cheese and "leaner wieners" drenched in ketchup from the guy with the hotdog hat. It is the place where we played tedious rounds of miniature golf with our young children, painted pottery and explored the bay by kayak.
Most of all, though, I will miss the family time - babies on the deck in tiny plastic pools, kids bundled in oversized life jackets on my dad's boat in the Fourth of July parade, putting puzzles together on rainy days ...
But the truth is that North Carolina is my home now. I have lived here longer than I have lived anywhere else, including in Pennsylvania where I grew up. Our beaches here are even more familiar to me than the distant memories of my childhood along the Jersey Shore. We also have created many fond memories with my children here - memories that I hope will keep them coming home to the North Carolina coast for many years after they go off into the world.
In my father's email exchange about selling the house he said: "It's time for you to start your own traditions." And he was right. We are well on our way. But to play on the words of the famous James Taylor song, there are bound to be moments when I look at a beautiful North Carolina beach sunset where I might just be going to New Jersey in my mind...
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.