The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Recently, I took a summer trip to the mountains with girlfriends and our kids. This is an annual trip and we have been doing it since our kids were small (with less opinion and more cooperation, I might add). The moms love this trip because of the three family dynamics. Of the 6 kids, we have pairs of children to allow for each of our children to have a buddy their own age, all while the three moms are good friends and get along nicely. It’s a fun little group.
I always get excited about the trip, months before it happens. I forget some, if not all, of the challenges that the trip brings (much like child bearing). I think, instead, about the fun bike rides with all of us in a really relaxed and fun mountain town. I think about the leisurely lunches on a patio with friends while kids wander around the village going to the candy store and other places. I think about our children catching fish and getting so excited. (I do not bait the line ever…..my friend does that. I also don’t really have any fishing skill but we let our kids just figure it out.) I also think about going to the little shop in a neighboring town and making random jewelry just for fun even though when I get home I know I will never wear it. It is fun for me to watch the little girls of my friends (I have two tween boys) explore and choose what they will make with wonder.
What I don’t remember when I am planning for the trip is how hard it feels to get the bikes on the bike rack of my car and since I only do it once per year, that I always worry that I put the bike rack on wrong and that it will fall off as I am driving 75 miles per hour on the highway to our destination hurting all of the cars of people behind me. I also don’t remember that just because your children have grown up going on this trip, they will not always remain dear friends with the other child their own age or with any of the people on the trip for that matter. I forget what a challenge it is for my oldest boy with OCD to manage the trip and all of the things he has to tackle to just be there. I also forget about the fact that getting 9 people to agree on any one activity is like herding cats. I forget that there is a BIG situation when we arrive at our destination when the pairs of children are vying for which sleeping area or room they get (this is UGLY most of the time, some kids inevitably get sad and moms worry that they are raising entitled children --- not a great way to start a 4-day trip). I am reminded that both of my children don’t really LOVE swimming and I wish they did, to frolic for hours in the pool. I also forget that I always overpack food and clothing and often don’t have the things that I or my kids want or need the most (a rain jacket that is cute or the chocolate muffins that I know my oldest boy will eat when he is feeling picky about food in general). I also forget that it can be hard to be around people 24 hours a day, even the ones you really like.
So, in order to bring full circle of life on this last trip, I want to reflect on what I have learned about the trip this year and in years’ past:
1. Sometimes, it is nice to give the better bed to someone else.
2. People don’t have to like you all of the time, but you should always be kind and respectful, regardless.
3. Allowing your children to exercise independence in a safe environment is priceless and helps them to grow as humans.
4. I don’t know how to fish and that is okay.
5. Make a packing list of the things I really want and need immediately to remember them next time (cute rain jacket/chocolate muffins).
6. I don’t like to swim so it is no wonder that my kids don’t.
7. I do like day drinking with friends on vacation – it feels like an extravagant luxury.
8. Don’t pack too many snacks – travel light (it’s easier) and budget to buy the food that you want – remember, we are on vacation.
9. Get up early and be alone in nature to clear your mind and to show up completely present for the remainder of the day to be a role model for my kids.
10. Give space to others to breathe and do their own things sometimes, it is okay.
11. Celebrate uniqueness.
12. Bonding with my children is priceless, spend more time doing that.
13. Listen to what others want to do first, then find alignment with my own desires too.
14. Plan the next trip knowing that everyone will have fond memories of this fun no matter what the experience is. Just let it be what it is and celebrate that in all of its glory.
Now, I am going to reach to my girlfriends to get our trip on the books for next year!