Sunday, March 18, 2012

instincts, speeches, screams, escape plans, business tone, snowmen, connecting and grace all wrapped up into one road trip.

i love a good road trip.

i love my children.

but my children with me on road trips?  well, i consider that a true test of my mothering abilities.

for the most part, i have pretty great kids.  the first two arriving with big personalities.  which is something i love about them...until we're all trapped together in a car for {what feels like endless} hours with those two personalities competing with each other.  survival of the fittest.

ben and i have tried a variety of tactics and with trial and error, we have decided what works best:  seating them as far apart as possible in the vehicle.

when we first begin each trip, they both are excited to sit by one another.  begging, pleading, promising us they will get along, we have caved one time too many.  letting them sit together, our fingers crossed that maybe, after years of attempting to cultivate it, this is the beginning of a beautiful sibling relationship.

within about 5 minutes, we realize our first mistake:  going against our initial gut instincts.  parents, never do this!  you know it will most likely lead to disasters beyond your wildest imaginations!

the shrieks that ensue once one has picked up a toy that the other one has suddenly decided is their favorite toy ever, is only the beginning.  it then cycles to the older one determined to making the younger one understand the complex social etiquettes of north american culture in children, believing that if he talks and explains in detail long enough, he can convince his more-primal-instincts-younger-sister to see his enlightened ways, and peacefully hand back the precious trinket she has just yanked from his tightly-gripped fingers.

when that doesn't happen after a 10 minute soliloquy including pouring his heart out and delivering his most persuasive argument to date thus far, and she returns his well-thought out speech with a stubborn and resounding reply of "NO!"

is when you-know-what hits the analogylitic {yes i just made that up} fan.

then on cue, i look over to see the calm and peaceful baby staring at me nervously, thoughtfully expressing to me with her eyebrows arched in fear that she has contemplated her escape plan and knows just where the closest exit is to her round little feet.

her concern now lies in her abilities to execute that escape plan, and she sends requests to me that come in the form of her adorable little "hoo-hoo's", in between gulps of her bottle, sweetly asking if i would assist her with this?

and i realize that it's unfair for her.  to be the third, the calm one, stuck in the back with her only company now turning into two shrieking hyenas that no amount of layers of knitted hat over her tiny ears can drown out.

so i do what any good mother would.

"that's IT!"  i exclaim, and what ben calls "business tone" takes over my voice.  and face.  and posture. and heart.  i motion for ben to pull off to the next exit.  we open the doors and get to work.

hauling leah in her carseat up to the middle row, confiscating the toy that began this debacle, and then announcing to them {with my voice an octave lower than it normally sits} that unless they shape up, we-will-turn-this-car-around-and-go-back-home-where-they-can-sit-in-their-rooms-for-the-rest-of-the-day-and-forget-about-this-vacation.  {and yes, of course i realize just where my oldest acquired his amazingly determined speech-delivery skills}

and that is how, 30 minutes into our 12-15 hr-each-way road trip, things settle down.

but by this point in time, i'm already wondering why did i think this was a good idea?  and how are we going to get through the next 2 days of traveling with everyone {myself included} making through it alive?  and then after a week of fun, get back in the car for another 2 days to go through it again?

but i look at ben, my optimistic partner in crime, who continues to believe in the power of a good family road trip regardless of fighting children,

and sigh.  and decide to change my attitude, bite the bullet, and keep going.

we make a snowman during one of our get-out-of-the-car-before-we-all-go-mad stops.

we turn on our favorite non-children-music, road trip CD's and sing at the top of our lungs.  we talk about deep, meaningful things, and make jokes about shallow, non-meaningful things.  we connect and hold hands and daydream about our hopefully impending future where our kids become lovers of road trips the way we are.

and somewhere along the way, amidst tantrums, and spills, and cries, and whines,


like a piece of grace falling from the sky and landing directly into the walls of our dark blue minivan, they simultaneously sleep for 2 out of what-turned-into 16 hours on the road.

those 2 hours of peace and quiet, staring in amazement at their angelic faces, reminded me that road trips are like a compact look at motherhood as a whole.  there are a lot of hard and un-fun moments, but the ones that are rewarding are magnified so greatly when they happen.

and those moments were what convinced me to get back in the car and do it all over again, on the way home.

***for some added fun, want to actually see my children fight?  here's a video of our road trip, i made it for the weekly monday vlog on the blog i write for, Baby Half Off.  click on the video to watch the insanity unfold....


Nana said...

that video is hysterical! Reminds me of MANY road trips we took with our girls.
Yes, sometimes you want to pull your hair out.
Lucky you, you have a van to separate them. We didn't. And they ALL SAT TOGETHER! I know...INSANE! Great tips. Hope you enjoyed your trip. I'm sure it was awesome and well deserved!
It was fun to hear you laugh and talk!!! I miss you sweet Lynsey!

ohmylanta said...

Hilarious video!

It's makes me want to hop in the car and drive the 24 hours it takes us to get back to the west! (NOT) :)

I love love love Caleb's "Oh my Gosh!"

Kris said...

Ok, where were these tips when I traveled five days across the country with three kids with OUT my husband (but with my sister)? Here is another tip, don't plan too many "games" or things for them to do, we did that and it was just too much. Also, (for super long trips like 5 days across the country) a rewards system saved MY bacon! If they were good/nice/polite etc. they earned money that could be redeemed at our very own little "road trip store" and if they fought etc. they lost money. It made the fights few and far between. Oh,That over night bag was a good idea and I didn't think of that the first night and had to dig out from everyone's individual suit cases their p.j.s and new clean clothes. So then I had to figure out how to do that the last four nights in hotels, because it was too much to dig out everyone's junk every time we stopped. I love road trips but the five days was torture, it pushed me to the other side! BUT after that very long road trip, our 12-13 hour one to Utah will seem like a cinch! Right?!

Thanks for sharing, it made my day to watch your kids fight, it just goes to show that even amazing mothers like you have to put up with the bickering and fighting, just like the rest of us ;) You guys are great!