Today is the day we start our 18 hour car trip to Maine via a stop to pick up #3 in Annapolis, Maryland. Today is that day and it started with a bunch of last minute errands. The bank, the post office, the pharmacy. So I left #4 (Peter) mowing the yard, # 5 and #6 (Annie and Grace) with cleaning tasks. I returned a few hours later to what looked to me like a house that was only slightly cleaner than what I had left. “Grace!!!!” I unloaded. No matter how calm I try to stay when we are getting ready to leave, I inevitably lose it at some point. “Why can’t you kids do a small task while I’m gone?” ” Why does it always end up being me who has to get us ready and the house cleaned?”…”wa wa wa wa”…… While I’m yelling I am thinking that a better mom would keep her cool.
Then my husband came in from work and headed up stairs. A minute later he called down, “Have you seen any of my socks?” It dawned on me that I had seen a bunch of his dirty socks (and mine) in a basket in the laundry room earlier. “Oh, yeah…” I said as I went downstairs and grabbed the dirty socks…and packed them.
We stopped at the Dollar Store for some last minute things on the way to pick up #5 (Annie) at her driver’s education class and finally hit the road. This was the kind of store where everything really IS one dollar. Always excited when I see a deal, I grabbed a cart and $52 dollars later, we checked out. I realized as I paid for everything, just how much junk food I had picked up…Sour Patch, Dots, Bugles, M&M’s, peanuts, yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck. I was feeling like a loser mom again.
After the arguing about seats and earphones and pillows came down from the crescendo of the first 5 minutes of the car ride, #9 (Sam) asked, “When are we going to get there?” (actually it was more like 4 minutes). My husband and I looked at each other…it was going to be a very long two days. But we settled into the groove of the drive after a while. As I write this we are about 12 hours (and three bathroom stops) into our ride, and while I still don’t feel like a wonderful mother (do we ever really?), I look back at my imperfect kids in the back seats and I know that I love them very much. And even with all of my imperfections, they love me too.
Regardless of the annoyances, hassles, and stress of preparing for a trip, I know what I love about a family vacation. I know that ultimately there will be a lot of fun. Ultimately the kids will come together and create memories that will live in their hearts long after the memories of me yelling or dirty socks fade away. I will never be the perfect mom I wish I could be…but I will always be my kids’ mom and for that I am grateful!