I am taking my two daughters on a road trip today- by myself. At the risk of overdramatizing things, it feels like more of a pilgrimage, actually. My parents are moving out of my childhood home; the actual house-selling happened rather quickly, and given that their home is 10 hours away from me, I didn’t have many options if I wanted to see the house one last time. Which, if you know anything about me, (ahem, nostalgia junkie) you’ll know that I wanted to- desperately.
Spring break is the last week of March; my oldest daughter will be out of school, and I won’t be teaching music classes that week. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the trip back “home” to see my old house one last time. Perfect, of course, except for the fact that I will be driving 10 hours each direction across the Midwest with my two children– ages 2 and 7– without my husband.
I decided to begin our adventure with a trip to Iowa to see my 92-year-old grandmother. She will probably be moving to assisted living soon, and this will likely be the last time my girls and I could ever spend the night at her home. At age 92, one never has any idea how many more opportunities there will be for time together. She is my last living grandparent, and knowing that within a few days, she will make her homemade chocolate sauce for me, possibly one last time, brings tears to my eyes. After we spend two nights at her house, also squeezing in a dinner with my aunt and cousins, we will drive to my parents’ house for a few days.
It could be wildly chaotic. Though we are breaking up the 10 hours into two half-day increments, I’m sure the “Are we there yet???” whines will be plentiful, the arguments over movie selections will be boisterous, and the disdain for snack options will be abundant. Does it seem like logging that many hours in a minivan loaded up with two young girls, dozens of DVDs, bags full of snacks, books, toys, crayons, and lovies, not to mention a Shop Vac’s worth of crushed goldfish, veggie straws, and disintegrating Happy Meals, is utter foolishness? Maybe. But I have learned some things in my day.
- My iPad and Kindle are loaded with apps, and I’m not afraid to use them.
- You’d be surprised how many Disney movies a 7-year-old and 2-year-old can agree on.
- Never underestimate the power of crappy drive-thru food to delight and pacify young children.
- Our memories are worth a lot. Maybe more than anything.
- Quick accessibility and strategic car packing is of the utmost importance- I’m a pro at this.
- When the stakes are high, all members of the family rise to the occasion, capable of things you never dreamed possible. Like getting along, staying calm, and working together.
- Our time with loved ones is sacred, and not to be taken for granted.
- A well-placed bribe can be incredibly effective for procuring optimal car behavior.
- Small children should spend time with elders whenever possible- it is therapeutic for all involved.
- If you have the opportunity to travel through your past, say goodbye to places that mattered to you, and allow your children to bear witness- you should do it, even if it’s not perfectly ideal circumstances or particularly relaxing or convenient.
I’m done with school, but I’ve learned quite a bit in the past 14 years since I graduated from college. I’ve learned to trust my instincts, to eliminate as many possibilities for regrets as I can, and to believe in myself. I’ve learned not to sell myself short- I am capable of strength, bravery, and endurance when I need to be. I’ve learned that connecting with people and sharing time and space together matters more than just about anything. I’ve learned to cherish and celebrate where I came from and who I used to be. These are the things that matter deeply to me, and they are worth braving a vanload full of chaos on the freeways of Nebraska.
Wish us luck. If you are the praying type, we are accepting all prayers from all belief systems. 🙂
I will be on the road for much of Friday- please forgive me if I am unable to get to your posts until I return home from my trip. I will see you again in TWO Fridays when I am back in town!
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This post is part of Finish the Sentence Friday.
This week’s sentence was, “I’m done with school, but…”
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