I have heard it said a time or a thousand "It's the journey that matters, not the destination." Never, however, has that felt more true than this past week.
A couple of weeks ago Seth and I set out on an epic road trip with our three little ones headed to Iowa for the wedding of a dear friend. I admit that I was a little apprehensive of taking this 4,500 mile plus trip. Don't worry though, with Pinterest at hand I outdid myself with preparation. I had the notebooks made up with little activities, I had the Ipad pre-loaded with movies, I checked out every age appropriate audio book from the library and even planned to drive at night so the kids could sleep at night. I was ready. And then we left. At 10:20 pm on Tuesday we pulled out and almost immediately the kids were asleep. It was working. Then a rest stop came at 2 am and our children were all awake for the next two hours, and I'm telling you, they were not happy about it. Neither were we. The seats were too straight, no one was comfortable no matter how many pillows they had and our journey had just begun. We made our first stopping point around noon the next day and moved into the little cabin I had rented, giving Seth some time to nap while I took the first shift. When it was my turn to nap however my two younger ones decided to join me. It wasn't that bad, but I never rest as well with little ones all around. Eight thirty came around (sooner than I had expected with the time zone change) and we were off. Wearier than before, but still doing okay. Our children stayed awake until 11:00 Pm and then woke again for a nightly crying time. At 5:00 am we crashed in a hotel in Rawlins, Wyoming and had a much needed, though way to short rest, and by 11 am we were off again. This time we continued on for about 20 hours before reaching our destination. Those hours were filled with tired, sometimes grumpy but determined parents and moody children. Various struggles arose, such as a puking toddler and vomit covered everything on the side of the freeway - but we made it. As we pulled into a laundry mat in Muscatine, Iowa completely exhausted but trying to recover I felt as though I never wanted to do another road trip with small children ever again.
We were all about our destination, and we made it, but we missed something. So after an absolutely lovely wedding and two days restoring my faith in road trips we headed back. Seth had this great idea that we would take our time on the way back. I was wary. I was not sure I wanted to make this last any longer than it had to, but I went along with it. We arrived near Denver at my Aunt's house (as planned) late on the 3rd of July and spent the entire 4th of July hanging out with my Aunt, my cousins and my cousin's daughter, it was truly wonderful. We slept late the next day and pulled out sadly at noon, sad to go so soon. This time however we were only driving 6 hours or so, headed North toward Yellow Stone. We took two days getting there and were in no hurry. We enjoyed the scenery, and so did the kids. We (Seth and I) pulled out our headphones more and I put down my book and we talked. We laughed, we shared great moments together as a family, and we relaxed. We were able to visit Yellowstone National park, which I had never seen and though we had to camp in pouring rain the night before we visited the clouds parted and we had amazing weather all day. Byson and Elk guided us through the outstanding Park and as we joined the many tourists to view things such as Tower Falls and of course Old Faithful I found joy and peace as I was able to simply be present. Even as we pressed on towards home the next day, taking one more long day on our journey the change in attitudes continued and showed me what it really meant to view life as a journey rather than a series of destinations. I only hope that the next time I am faced with some such occasion I will remember to slow down, breathe, and soak it all in. No matter what stage of life we are in, this is the only time we will be here. Enjoy it.