Why all mothers should travel alone with their children at least once….
I just got back from a month long trip with my children. Blake was able to be with us for two weeks but then he had to get back to work. So, I made the awesome choice to drive home alone with the kids. It was a 1, 500 journey, 20 or so hours in the car and took four days of driving with fun stops in between. What? This doesn’t sound fun to you? I’ll admit that a few days before the drive I was a little, ok, very nervous about how things were going to go. My kids are aged 9, 6, 4, 2 and they are both best friends and worst enemies, as most siblings are. They learned a lot about responsibility and pitching in and doing their part. They learned to share pillows when they didn’t want to, open snacks for the little ones, put up with the shenanigans of teasing and pestering in an enclosed space. They learned to help each other in the bathroom, be patient for food and drink and that you don’t have to watch tv all day in the car to have fun. They learned that when mom says/yells, “I have been driving for 18 hours, you guys can figure it out.” that it is time to be quiet.
I learned that many hours of driving leads to a lot of reflection and wonder to “Why haven’t I lost my mind yet?” And I came to this discovery. I, (the adult) actually have some control over my emotions! My kids to have some control, but they are still in the midst of discovering patience and love and kindness. I am 33 years old and hopefully have learned more about these things. When I wanted to freak out, I reminded myself that “I am the adult” and that I could manage my feelings. The kids would work out their problems and I would just have to ride through the grumpiness for a few miles, which is surprisingly easy to do when there is some good music and beautiful scenery. It will give you the confidence of a warrior! You will have the feeling that you can do anything! And you can and I can! I am no longer nervous to take my kids to appointments alone, church alone, in public alone. I have always taken them everywhere with me but been apprehensive. Now, I don't even think about it. It is such a freeing feeling.
I have always been bothered by the saying that the mother controls the mood of the home. Who wants that responsibility? I definitely don’t! But I do have it and I have come to look at it as a good thing. If I can swallow my outbursts and think before I speak, then my kids will learn to do the same. It might take years of trial and error, but they will learn to do the same. And hopefully sooner than I did! It is a true honor to be the mood decider. I have told myself many times that I will not let my kids affect my mood. That one temper tantrum in the day doesn’t equal a bad day as a whole. That a blown out diaper, broken figurine, an “I hate you” doesn’t have to destroy my life. These moments are just moments of the day, not the whole day. (Now ask me if I think these same things when I am pregnant someday!)
All in all, I discovered that I could do something hard. I could pack and repack the car, I could throw snacks back with great accuracy, stay awake after 9 hours of driving, maintain my sanity after a sleepless night courtesy of William and stop along the way for the first pony express station. We bonded like crazy. I was the only adult to listen to, so they had to do it. We relaxed and laughed and saw rolling plains, red rock, mountains, fields of gold and fields of corn. I learned to go with the flow. That if we got in an hour later, it wasn’t going to kill anyone. If it took longer to get to the pool, we would still get there. I learned that life doesn’t have to be as scheduled as it was when I had kids age 4, 1 and newborn. I am pretty thrilled about this turn of events. I am even more amazed at what my kids are capable of. They were awesome at pushing through so many miles, different houses, food and all the rest that comes with a road trip. I was so proud of them that I could shout it from the rooftops! (I guess this is my way of doing that.) To sum it up, you can do hard things as a mom. You can push yourself harder than you thought. You can live to tell the tale. And you can live to tell the tale with grace.
Us at the first pony express station in Gothenburg, Nebraska