Our family has spent more time on the road this summer than the past 5 years combined.We spent 7 weeks living in Alabama (that’s an 18 hour trip of you drive straight through, folks) and were home only 12 days before flying down to Dallas for 5 days. The fall holds at least one more road trip for our little band.
We get a lot of raised eyebrows when friendly people in alligators (that’s ‘elevators’ to you who can pronounce it) or at Churches we visit asking us, ‘Where y’all from?’ When you mention you’re from the opposite side of the country and they count the kids you have in tow, they naturally begin to question your sanity and your decision making abilities.
To be honest, there are days this week I’ve questioned that myself.
This week’s trip was to a business conference we’re privileged to attend with Jeremy each year. It’s the type of event held in a fancy hotel, and the dress code for the entire weekend is business casual to formal. Kids are a rarity in this environment, and though most people are delighted to share an alligator with 3 adorable children (usually because they’re missing their own kids or grandkids), shock and awe are usually right up there with delight.
I’ve had to explain myself over and over this week when people ask why we do what we do: why we would take our kids along with us on a trip like this. And each time I’m asked, I find myself grateful for the opportunity to remind MYSELF why we do what we do, because usually I’ve just finished calming a child who’s missed another nap, or breaking up a dispute about who gets to press the button on the alligator, or brainstorming with my husband what we should do for lunch in the hotel room that’s not too expensive or junk food-ish.
(Newsflash: I ate McDonald’s today. It did not kill me. But I can hardly wait to get home and start the Milk Cure again!)
I need the reminder because traveling with kids is NOT easy. In fact, in this season, it doesn’t even feel worth it. It feels much more practical to send Daddy off on a business venture or to a conference on his own, instead of hauling all 5 of us hither and yon.
But as I had the privilege to explain to more than 1/2 dozen strangers today, we do this because we believe in doing things as a family.
We’re aware that we’re building our family culture in these early years, and togetherness is a big part of our vision. We want to be a family who works together, plays together, worships together, and serves together. So, we travel together, too.
And often traveling together puts us in rather intense seasons of more family togetherness than we even have when we’re at home–like living in a bus together for a whole summer, or sharing a hotel room for 5 days, or having no other relationships to distract us from each other. Like a new workout, these times build muscles you didn’t even know existed.
An alligator ride is often too short a time to share with a stranger everything I’ve just hammered out to you here, but even in a short conversation you can tell when you’ve made an impact. People back away, and keep turning to look back on this odd little family, working so hard to stay together in a pull-apart world. This afternoon we even had one woman walk away in tears, completely choked up by the vision we shared in response to her persistent questions as to “why???”
It was timely encouragement to me to read this passage in “Guardians of Purity” this week–
“Creating family connectedness takes planning and determination. Everything in our culture screams ‘peers’ and individualism. Very little speaks of coming together as a family.” Julie Hiramine, Guardians of Purity
Julie reminded me how important it is to be intentional about family connectedness. She helped me, during a harrowing week, to know we are on the right track.
And as I tucked my children into bed after another marathon day, I laughed to hear what was on their hearts after another adventure far from our little white house in the Fingerlakes…
From Claire (all in a space of 3 min. as I put her to bed in the hotel room)
- “Mom, where’s our white house?”
- “Mom, are we going to go in an airplane to New ‘Ork?”
- “Mom, I wanna get married tomorrow”
- (after singing ‘You Are My Sunshine”) “Seth is my sunshine.”
From Jesse–now a well traveled almost-6 year old:
- “If you see a freckle moving…it’s a tick.”
- “I want to drive one of those [stretch hummers] all over the world someday.”
And from Seth, who gets excited whenever there’s more than two of something:
- “More bus and more bus and more bus and more bus!”
- “More plane and more plane and more plane and more plane!”
And now, I’m going to sleep, because Mommy is more tired and more tired and more tired and more tired…
For the Fellowship...What does your family do that’s just a little bit odd? Do you eat different, talk different, relax different, or learn different because of a unique family vision? I’d love to hear about it. Funny stories of strangers’ reactions welcome!