Tomorrow we roll out for a ten hour road trip. And I’m looking forward to it.
That’s a switch. I used to anticipate a road trip with the four kids about like anticipating a dentist appointment. It was necessary to get where we wanted to go, but I knew that it was going to be uncomfortable—maybe even painful—at times.
But things have changed. Our family has evolved, and our road trips have evolved with us.
- For years we snuck out of our sleeping neighborhood at 4:30 am. It was a strategic move to get as much road behind us before the sun woke the kids. Yes, we were sleepy from packing the night before. But a little sleepiness was worth the serenity.
- Now the kids are chill, whatever time of the day it is. No more sneaking them out while they sleep. And no more sleep deprivation for serenity.
- We started these trips before family cars were equipped with an entertainment station for each passenger. I packed a bag of tricks that we hoped would get us to the destination. We were excited when we got a laptop to balance in the backseat—high tech for those days. We played all the Land Before Times movies until there was no more time.
- Now the kids—hardly kids anymore—bring their own entertainment all packaged in a slim 2×3” rectangle. They entertain themselves, and they entertain me.
- How many hours did we listen to Psalty the Singing Song Book? It’s not that I didn’t like it—the first time. It was about hour seven that I tired of it. But we’d listen to anything to keep the peace, set a happy tone and sneak in some songs about Jesus.
- Now the kids are the DJs. They have a plethora of music choices at their fingertips—instead of the mess of cassettes that I had at my feet. And I love their music. I’m happy to trade in Psalty for music by Josh Garrels, Ben Howard or Matt Corby.
- Food stops were less about food and more about the playground. We knew where every McDonalds was located across I-20. When they were too big for the playground we graduated to food courts in the malls—it gave us a little stretch and food variety.
- Now the stops are all about the food—good food. These days we check Gary’s GPS for a spontaneous choice—another convenience that didn’t exist in the early road trip days.
- Four little kids added more than an hour of bathroom stops to a long trip. Someone always had to go—never at the same time.
- Now I can’t blame the kids for a stop at the next exit. It’s Gary or me that can’t wait any longer for a bathroom stop and a stretch to loosen the joints. It’s not just the kids who are getting older.
- For years, we were aware of the extremely delicate state of calmness. At any moment we were on the brink of a brawl or the crest of a clash between any two siblings. There were four of them, so any combination of conflict was possible at any given moment. We enjoyed the miles passed in peace–we even had fun. But we were all aware of its volatility.
- These days, I have to look to make sure there is still life in the back seat. I even get excited—instead of afraid–when I hear movement and interaction.
- Gary and I used to have the best conversations while the kids slept soundly in the back. You name it, we talked about it.
- Now we enjoy rich conversations with the kids too—about nearly anything. The whole road trip isn’t meaningful talk—none of us are capable of that. But there always seems to be those nuggets of conversation in an unassuming stretch of the highway.
Drivers—It’s not just Gary and me taking shifts behind the wheel anymore. We all arrive at our destination more relaxed, usually. (I learned to keep my eyes closed in the backseat while my boys weave through the Dallas traffic.)
So I’m thankful–
- I’m thankful for road trip evolutions.
- I’m thankful that I look forward to a day on the road with the family, and that they look forward to it too.
- And I’m thankful for my co-pilot. Whatever changes occur in the backseat–soon it will be empty–I’ll always be excited about a road trip with my husband.
Road trip or not, I pray that you enjoy Thanksgiving week with your family–whatever season you are in.
What kind of road trips are you having lately?