Hi friends. I have just returned from a two week road trip where we drove over 3,000 miles in our minivan from Colorado to Arkansas to Tennessee and ALL. THE. WAY. BACK. I really don't mind the driving and considering the fact that I had a one-year-old, two three-year-olds and my mom with me, who is in her 70's—sorry for the reveal mom...but it's the truth—and we have not been checked into a mental institution somewhere along the way, is really quite amazing.
The reason for the trip was to spend some time with my parents in Arkansas and because Tom was away at seminary on a two-week intensive. It seemed a much better idea than sitting at home counting the minutes—and dirty diapers—until he got back. AND since I was less than a day's drive to Nashville—where I went to college, fell in love, and got married, not to mention lived for 7 years—I decided to extend the reach of my trip just a little further and pop over for the weekend in the midst of our two-week excursion.
As I was driving across the country, it was very natural to think about journey. Should I be the kind of mom who stops at the prairie dog village and see the five-legged cow? Or should I be the mom who powers through and drives through the night so we have as little time as possible in process and maximize the time at our destination? I know I at least wanted to be the kind of mom who had a good attitude and was understanding to her kids who were sick of being in the car. We had several times when my patience was tested to the max—like when we drove 30 miles down a road only to have it be closed and offer no detour, meaning we had to turn around and find an alternate route. UGH. Silas summed it up when we drove over a bump turning around at the "road closed" sign and he began to scream for 30 miles back to the town where we needed to pick up another road. I got out of the car with him in the parking lot of an A&W for about ten minutes and walked with him. I put him back in the car still screaming and drove. I sang lullabies for a half hour until he fell asleep. And then my brain exploded...not really but I'm sure it broke something in there. This was the same day that I got pulled over in rural Arkansas for going to fast, which I didn't notice I was doing because I was yelling at the kids in the back seat to keep their hands to themselves.
There were wonderful moments at my parent's house. We did some real 'BOY' things that we can't do back in Colorado like splash in the muddy stream and drive a tractor. All the boys had their first experiences with being in a boat, planting flowers with Grandma, throwing rocks in a lake, and checking for ticks. My parents live on a mountain and every time we went up to their house we sang, "Climb Every Mountain" from the Sound of Music. It was hilarious and wonderful.
Nashville was a fast and furious weekend which broke up the two-week extravaganza. We left Friday morning, dashed across country to Memphis where the boys loved going on the big bridge over the Mississippi. We arrived in Nashville during rush hour which added a little extra time to our trip. My gracious mother came with us and stayed with the kids so I could go out with my friends. I stayed out until after midnight, which is crazy late for someone my age, seriously. The next day was all about families hanging out together, all the kiddos doing their thing whilst the parents watch and pray that no body gets too hurt. Tom decided he couldn't handle all of us being together with him just six hours away, so he drove down from Indiana to be with us during his weekend break. It was awesome to be a family for the weekend and break up the separation. Hanging out with good friends is such a breath of fresh air for me. I am so grateful for these guys.
On Sunday, I got to see my sister-in-law's family, Jenny and Tyler (who I wrote an artist feature on, check it out!). I met my sweet new niece, Sara, and we got lunch and Jeni's Ice Cream. Nashville continued to prove that it is one of the coolest cities ever and it made me envious of the 'old' me who lived there. Sigh. Not much time to dwell on that because we were back in the car before we knew it heading back to Arkansas. We pulled into my parents house and I was just getting the last sleeping child out of the car when it started chucking it down, (that's a downpour). So the kids didn't get wet, but my dad and I did as we brought in the three pack-&-play's from the car and all of our luggage.
We had so many great experiences and many trying ones as well. The coolest thing is that I feel closer to my boys than ever. I missed their dad A LOT and his absence made things pretty tiring and down right awful at times, but I feel like my boys all love me a little better now. I don't really know how to put my finger on what has changed. Maybe it is just the fact the journeying together has brought us closer together. Maybe the fact that I was the constant in the midst of many changes and new experiences has made them trust me in a deeper way. Maybe it is all in my head and I am reading into the situation, BUT I feel a more focused affection and I'll take it!