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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I am wishing you total luck and god bless you traveling that amount of distance and time with two small kids. I get ill just thinking of an hour or two trapped in the car hearing, “Are we there yet?” So, I truly have my fingers crossed for a smooth and easy trip for you now.
Oh I am right there with you driving that car. I have done two of the long haul numbers with my kids when they were little – once to New Zealand (24 hour milk run – wasn’t that a delight) and a 17 hour road trip to Calgary. Like you I broke the latter up with an overnight stop half way. You are right- everyone does rise to the occasion in these situations. Wishing you lots and lots of quiet peaceful miles!
ACH my friend, I love this. You’re so right that your sense of family, and sharing them with your girls is worth the crappy 10-hour minivan ride that may include chaos but may be placated with drive-through food and Disney. I LOVE that you’re doing this, as you know. I’m proud of you, and Shawn and everybody. Be safe, careful, mindful of the freaks and fatigue. Pull over often and safely. Prayers and all the betweens with you friend, big. Also? the whole “Our memories being worth a lot, and maybe more than anything” had me sniffling before the damn sentence even started…just saying. Ah hem. So.
Safe, happy, fulfilling travels, sweets. Call me if you need somebody to make annoying road trip noises in your ear to stay awake.
that final pic sent me into a sob…wow…how beautiful…wiping my tears away so I can see the screen.
You are super brave, I would be so scared to travel alone, but I also have irrational fears, LOL. I bet it’s going to be a wonderful trip with lots of lasting memories. Plus what a great role model for your daughters, their mom can do it all.
Yay! You can do it! You’ve chosen wisely with your tools, and you’re right, this trip will definitely be worth it. Will you travel to Lake Okoboji? What would you do there in March, anyway? Ice fish? Ice skate?
Oh Steph, what an incredibly amazing post. So wise and dare I say – grownup? You make such great and valuable observations on eliminating any possibilities for regret, the mutually therapeutic value of the elderly spending time with kids and this sentence, possibly my favourite one: “Our memories are worth a lot. Maybe more than anything.” Wow, wow and wow. Once again you’ve packed so much into a short little post. I’m sending prayers and good vibes your way. This is, no doubt, an act of bravery but that will be rewarded, I’m sure. Have a great visit with your parents, grandma and uncles and aunts. XOXO
We travel all the time by car with the girls. I have become a pro at the 12+ hour car ride and the strategic packing. Also at making sure that wherever we stay that night has wine. Have a safe and happy trip down memory lane.
I take summer-long road trips with my four kids every year, by myself – so I know what an undertaking it is! I try to never pull a 10 hour drive in one day, unless it the first day (they’re excited and not burnt out) or the last day (when everyone is desperate to get home). I whole heartedly agree – strategic car packing is essential. I will not let my husband or a bellman load the car. That is momma’s job! I also love audio books for the driver – and a road trip play list is a MUST! Safe travels.
Have a safe and fun trip. Road trips were always a blast with my kids. I should hit the road soon as cabin fever is setting in. Have a great time!
Best of luck, but I know you won’t need it. You are certainly well prepared (believe me electronics can work wonders, I’ve seen them in action)! Have a wonderful trip and when it’s all over you will be so glad you made the journey.
Wishing you lots of luck and lots of wonderful memories!
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.
Prayers for a safe and sane trip, Mama!!!!!!!!! xo
you are surely a top contender in the ‘coolest mom’ contest! Roadtrip!
(sure, I am reflecting and projecting on a more jaded examples of this peculiarly American recreation/travel form)… but still… it’s a road trip!
there is something to the camaraderie (from hours or days in a vehicle) that usually dominates the memory, when recalled, next year or in 20 years.
Steph, that sounds amazing. You so, so deserve a break. Have a great time. xo
You are a brave, brave woman. But your memories will be priceless, it’s all about the journey right? Good luck and have fun!!
I remember saying goodbye to the house I grew up in. It was easier than I thought. The packing and donating and packing and throwing stuff kept me busy. But alas, it was when it’s over when it finally dawned on me that I may never be able to set foot in my room. The kitchen where I used to practice my still-not-so-great baking skill. The tub where I used to pretend I was a mermaid. The broken window where I would stick my hand out holding my cigarettes so nobody will find out I was smoking (illegally). The living room. It was only when I was back in the house where my family lives now did I break down and cry. 🙁 At least I still have the memories.
Wishing you well on the trip and have a safe drive!
What a fabulous trip! Your children will remember this wonderful adventure and so will your grandmother and your parents. There’s something magical about a road trip. When I was a child, we drove from Colorado to Minnesota every summer to spend a few weeks on one of the lakes. I still remember the trips. My mother drove us every year in our old station wagon. Have fun and a safe trip!!
We just took a little road trip… about three hours and we utilized all of the above tricks to keep the kids happy. A scoop of ice cream does wonders too! Have a blast!
Best of luck with the children-in-the-car scenario. You are a hero.
I agree with every single on of those bullet points! Disney movies and and fast food and bribes – yep! Strategic packing – yep, I am a pro as well. And Yes, Yes, Yes, to time with family, making memories, and no regrets! Prayers for safe travels, fun times, and minimal frustrations coming your way.
Have a wonderful trip, Stephanie! No matter how trying the drive may get, I’m sure you will not regret going back home. See you when you get back 🙂
I’m so happy I stumbled upon this post today. It is very inspirational for me, as I am about to fly across the country solo with a 3 year old and a 1 year old to take them to the ocean (My husband is meeting us there, but still, my heart pounds at the thought of doing the airport and airplane thing on my own!). But as you said, memories might just be the most important things we have, and I think a week at the beach with my young kids will be once-in-a-lifetime experience– they’ll never be this little again.
~Frantic Mama/ Julia