Why traveling with kids is worth losing my sanity.

There we were.

We were in hour seven of what was supposed to be an eight hour trip. The girls and I had spent the previous several hours sounding out words, making up new lyrics to our favorite songs and played round after round of I Spy. I’ve become pretty comfortable making the drive from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, where all but two of our immediate family members live. We’ve travelled this same stretch of highway since we moved to Georgia so I’m familiar with every grimy gas station bathroom and each of the three Starbucks along the route. When we moved to North Carolina and the trip was cut from a miserable 13 hours to a more manageable eight, the girls and I began making the trip ourselves. Josh has a hard time getting away from work so I needed to become comfortable making the trip alone.

The coloring books had been filled and the books reread from memory. Heavy rainclouds stole any bits of sunlight that may have remained after daylight savings time but we were in good spirits – one more hour to go. I topped yet another of the rolling hills and winding roads that carry us through Southern Pennsylvania when I saw it: miles and miles of red, angry brake lights staring at me through my rain spattered windshield.

A traffic jam. In the middle of the Pennsylvanian countryside.

With no where to go, no where to reroute, the girls and I sat for two hours.

Do you know what’s exciting? Traveling.

Do you know what’s exhausting? Traveling with children.

We sat and whined, sighed and scowled. I prayed with a ferocious intensity that neither girl would have the sudden and immediate need for a bathroom break. An eight hour car trip is manageable. But when that eight hour gets stretched to nine and then 10… that’s enough to make a Momma lose her mind. I may have said some things to those sweet children that aren’t fit to repeat.

But we do it. Many times each year. And it sucks. Yet I do it gladly.

We made the decision to move away from home. Our families live in Western Pennsylvania – some just a stone’s throw apart. The issue of traveling and distance wasn’t bothersome when we were in college or when we moved to Ohio. But when we had children, we all became more concerned with quality time. When we agreed to move farther away and began collecting children, we had to make the decision that where we decided to live had to be worth the distance we were placing between our children and our families.

We chose to move away because it was what was best for us, our careers and our children. Yes, there are aspects of life that would be easier if we were near family but currently the benefit to living where we do is worth the sacrifice of a few miserable hours in the car.

While our families do visit and willingly drop their lives to come and help when we need it, it’s harder for our siblings and extended family to make their way south. It’s not fair to our children and our parents, siblings, cousins and dear friends that they don’t get to see us or our children. But they aren’t the ones who moved. It’s our responsibility to make sure that our children know and have memories with their extended family.

I don’t care if the drive is eight, 10 or 15 hours. We do it because family is important and memories like these aren’t made on Facebook on FaceTime.

IMG_2814

IMG_5855IMG_2802 IMG_2787

1412711_872207886775_6760394653526436374_o

That being said, I’m putting away my suitcase for awhile.

 

The Tale of a Lackadaisical Liz.

I spent the month of December doing not much of anything.

I let the willpower slide. My normal routine was really nonexistent and I wasn’t particularly  unconcerned with making myself do anything I really didn’t want to do.

It was wonderful.

After a mini-meltdown triggered by my own holiday pressure, I cut myself some slack and just enjoyed things. I forgave myself for my shortcomings. I didn’t stress about being the best or most ambitious. I just enjoyed things.

There is time for hard work and discipline. But there is a season to sit back, enjoy and reflect on what’s been learned and experienced, gained and missed. It’s necessary.

So that’s exactly what I did.

I didn’t run a lot. But I did eat a lot. I spent evenings lazy on the couch with J. We traveled and spent time with family and played in the snow.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSCSONY DSCAgain, it was fantastic.

I wish I could continue on like this but the joy in rest only comes after the hard work.

Back to life as we previously know it.

I’m rested. I’m excited.

Happy 2013.