In a desperate move to make being together as a family bearable for another few weeks, we took a trip. I needed a break from obsessively checking my Amazon Ads.
As anyone who travels with children knows, this was NOT a vacation. It was a trip. The difference? You are still in charge of the children. There is nothing relaxing about this. You must respond to the getting sick and the screaming in the car. To the random running-off in unknown environs. You are the sounding board for all the complaining about EVERYTHING from waking up to eating to hiking to playing to swimming to going to bed. Everything is accompanied by a whine.
And while all of this is non-unique to the trip, it is all happening in surroundings that do not include your favorite chair, your own bed, or the super cozy pj pants you forgot to pack. I don’t like going anywhere unprepared. I look like a pack llama making my way up the Andes when it comes to preparing for a trip.
But this time, guys, the effort was so worth it.
We watched wonder and engagement light up our children’s eyes as we drove and hiked through the Petrified Forest.
We took deep, relaxing breaths as we woke to the peace of the lake each morning. We studied scripture and sipped warm beverages there. We were flocked by Canadian geese.
We got sleeted on. Got that? Sleeted on during a seven mile hike (yeah, my 5 year old did seven miles that involved sleet, he’s my personal hero) to a pair of waterfalls through the sub-alpine meadows of the Rockies.
And shockingly, my kids enjoyed soaking away our cares at the hot springs in Pagosa Springs. And my husband proved himself to be the best ever (sorry ladies, but I got the best one) and allowed me to go back to the springs by myself in the afternoon for some deep, solitary recharge. It. Was. Bliss.
This is, of course, a serious abbreviation of a week long trip. It doesn’t include the Yahtzee, the movie nights, the other hikes, and the learning. Oh the learning! We made ourselves receptacles of new information everywhere we went.
I learned two very important things. First, the largest of the pteranodon family only weighed 300lbs. This thing was twenty feet tall and weighed the same as a great dane. Nonsense.
The second, and arguably the most important, is I love answering my kids questions when they are about substantive things. Not when is dinner, what’s for dinner, is there a snack, or can watch a movie. No. When the questions are more on the order of, “How did those trees become rocks?” or, “Are those mountains made by volcanoes or plate tectonics?” Throw in a few rounds of name-the-constellations and a long conversation about the role of women in society brought on by watching the newest film adaptation of Emma with my daughters and I realized this is my calling.
I have always valued education for education’s sake. I love to learn and rediscover things forgotten. I love to read and confront new ideas. But there is nothing as satisfying in all the world than watching a tiny little person who shares a piece of your heart light up with the excitement of learning something new that you brought into their life.
All people should learn. Learning is good. But mothers–past, present, and future–have the obligation to learn so that the next generation can do the same. Children want you to teach them, not by lecture and they probably aren’t conscious of learning by example, but by mutual exploration and comfortable conversation.
Don’t be your children’s friend (that’s whole other post on its own). Take them on a trip (I repeat, not a vacation) and be their teacher.
Trust me, you’ll enjoy the show.