We have been back from our AWESOME trip to Tampa, FL for an entire week now, and yet I still feel like I’m in vacation mode. It’s hard adjusting back to life of chores, bills, and daily life when you’ve been floating around in vacation mode. It’s even more difficult to come back to reality since we’ve made a 2-year plan to officially move there… More on that decision to come in a later post.
It’s a dreary, cloudy, cold day in the Midwest today, and I’m missing the Florida sunshine and salty air coming off of the Gulf of Mexico. Visit our family vacation one more time with me through some photos we took along the way… And maybe next week I will be back to posting normal stuff. 😉
We need a vacation. However, it’s not the destination that I have in mind, it’s the traveling. It’s the conversations that take place when we’re confined as a family within the small space of a car, with nothing on the agenda for the day but to drive. A long, open road leads to long, open conversations.
Traveling conversations are different from everyday conversations. My husband and I talk every day. But ninety percent of our everyday conversations are about the things that happen on a daily basis. We talk about his job. We talk about the things I’ve done around the house and the things still to be done. We talk about our children and their behaviors, attitudes, well-being, and the funny things that they’ve done or said. We talk about the future by means of doctor’s appointments, events at school, or where we need to be on the weekends. Of course these kinds of conversations need to take place. If there is one thing that my husband and I have been working on in the past couple of years, it’s communication. This kind of daily communication is vital to our happy marriage and a well-functioning family.
When we travel, we leave our daily life at home, and the everyday conversation is no longer needed. The conversations become as long as the roads we travel and just as fresh as the new views from the car windows. While growing up, some of my favorite conversations with my family took place on a long trip to anywhere in the car. I heard stories of who my parents were before they were parents. I heard about my mom and her relationship with her parents and siblings–how she was a daddy’s girl, and she fought with her oldest sister who often acted like she was her mom. I heard how my grandma had the patience of a saint, and that my mom sees a lot of her personality in me. I asked many questions about my mom’s other sister who developed schizophrenia after she had three children and how it affected the rest of the family. I heard about my dad and how he was a mama’s boy and would cling to the doorframe when it was time to go to school. I found out that he played football in a small town high school and has always been a quiet guy. I learned that he met my mom on a double-date (where they were each on a date with someone else), but that they ended up together.
Before I was a mom, I lived these kinds of stories too. I want to have time to tell my husband and children all about them. That I loved a warm afternoon sitting beneath a tree with a good book. That my baby dolls and stuffed animals were some of my favorite friends and my first practice at being a mom. That my sister and I had a “secret recipe” that consisted of brown sugar, butter, and peanut butter rolled into a ball and eaten raw when our dad was a diabetic and much of our pantry was sugar-free. How my dad scared me once when he went into a low-blood sugar reaction and was talking nonsense. I want to tell them about the rush of adrenaline that kicked in when I waited with my feet in the blocks for the gun to go off at the start of a track meet, and how good it felt the few times that I was able to get my chest across the finish line first. That my husband and I spent seven years growing up just a few streets from each other, and yet we met for the first time when he walked into a bowling alley when we were twenty years old.
With the busyness of our everyday lives, there is very little time to tell them all of these stories about the girl I was before I became a mom and a wife. I want to hear my husband’s and children’s stories too. We need a vacation.
**If you liked this post, you should check out the other posts on the Yeah Write open grid this week and vote for the post you like best!**
My son and I spend forty-five minutes together every day in a car. We live in a country home that we love, which happens to be forty-five minutes away from the preschool where I work and my son learns and plays. Every morning, my son sleeps the entire way, and who can blame him? The sun isn’t even awake when we leave in the morning! But in the late afternoon when we leave, he’s wide-awake and usually full of a whole day’s worth of activities, games, friends, or fights to talk about. When I leave work, it’s sometimes hard to switch over so quickly from teacher mode to mom mode. If it’s been a particularly difficult day (as Mondays often are… The babies miss the lovely weekend time they had with their mommies and daddies!) I envy my husband most days, who comes home from work to a quiet home, lets the dog outside, feeds the dog and cat, and then gets anywhere between half an hour to two hours of peace to himself before his serenity is bombarded by our five-year-old and myself coming through the door, yelling, “Daddy! We’re home!”
Don’t get me wrong, I do get plenty of “me” time. And if I ever need more of it, all I have to do is ask, and my husband obliges and will take our son outside to play while I watch the latest episode of Top Chef or Project Runway on our DVR. That being said, it’s nice when parents have the time to mentally make that switch, leaving all work-related stresses behind. But it isn’t always a possibility. And at the same time, how I spend those first forty-five minutes with my child can set the tone for the rest of the evening, so it’s important that I make the most of that time. Sometimes he has a lot that he wants to tell me, and I welcome that. There is nothing I love more than my son feeling free and able to open himself up to me and tell me all about his day, simply for the fact that I fear there may eventually come a time when he won’t want to tell me anything. Sometimes he asks a lot of questions. “What are we having for supper?” “Can we pick up McDonald’s?” “Do we need to go to the store?” “Is tonight a video game night?” “Can we play outside when we get home?” (Almost always a “Yes!” because a five-year-old boy really needs time to let his energy out!) Sometimes he wants to play a game. Our current favorite car games are coming up with rhyming words and “I Spy.” Both tend to pass the time pretty quickly. Sometimes he wants to play a game on my iPhone. Sometimes, if he didn’t take a nap in particular, he doesn’t want to talk, or play games, or ask questions. He wants to look quietly out the window, and he will eventually fall asleep. And that is okay with me. I try to respect the fact that, like adults, sometimes children have a hard day too, and they would rather not talk about it (yet. When he has a rare day like this, I always make it a point to bring it up sometime after we get home, usually during supper). Today, he was in a very talkative mood, and despite my less-than-chipper mood at first, we ended up talking the entire way home, about a game he wanted us to play together (and we did) when we got home that involved throwing his stuffed animals to see who could throw it the farthest. Then, we had a very interesting conversation that started with Beyblades and ended up in a discussion about a pegasus and a dragon, and Greek gods, and what a myth or a mythological creature is, and then a conversation about God and why we believe in Him as our Creator.
There are many ways you can spend the drive home with your young children, and I don’t think any of them are right or wrong, as long as we let them know that no matter what kind of day we have had at work, that we are happy to see them, and happy to be going home together.
What are some fun things that you like to do with your children in the car?