I married a man who shares my ideas of making memories with little things. But, he is also a man who loves history and stories and giving his children opportunities to travel and make that history and those stories come to life. Our biggest venture to date has been the trip we took three years ago to see all of Laura Ingalls Wilder's little houses. This year, the solar eclipse on August 21 was the catalyst for another big adventure. Chris always vowed he wouldn't miss a chance to see a solar eclipse, so plans began to take a vacation over that time. What started as a small, weekend trip turned into a nine day excursion and returning home late the night before school started!
There were many moments in the past nine plus days when I really felt Vacations are highly overrated. Packing up a family of seven for nine days away from home is not for the faint of heart. We did not take a motor home nor a maxi van. In fact, we rented a vehicle that turned out to have less space than our mini van. Lets just say my minimalist and organizational skills were stretched a good bit and, to be honest, I had a hard time mustering up much excitement about the whole thing. Children have no respect for the hard work a Vacation takes. They wake up all groggy in the morning and look expectantly at their parents and ask, "Where are we going today?" They ask thoughtless questions like - "Is this all we're doing?" "Why do we have to walk so far??" "Do we have to eat chicken again?"
It was four nights into our trip, driving up to Mt Rushmore in the dark with the lights of the town blinking brightly in the distance, when I squeezed Chris' hand and whispered, "Maybe it really is worth it all."
I don't know if I can explain what prompted that feeling. The children were mimicking favorite stories and there was a level of camaraderie and closeness that just squeezed my mother heart. I had watched my oldest swing the youngest up onto his shoulders when short little legs got tired; seen the big girl give the younger sisters the best seats; observed the close bond the five of them share. Do not get me wrong here. I'd heard plenty of, "Make him stop!" "It's my turn!" "Why do you always have to....?" kinds of stuff, too. We don't have angels for children, trust me. The Drama Queen had totally frustrated me with her 'when I don't feel good I'm dying' routine; the fifteen year old had not acted the way I thought a fifteen year old should act..... but in the dark, closeness of the vehicle with the glow of the lights in the distance and someone wondering how many of them were street lights and how many were buildings and how it would look if it were only street lights.... Somehow with the sharing of laughter and stories and memories, I felt the irreplaceable bond of family and how special it is to share the big moments of adventure together.
I believe there is a balance between thinking we must have Vacations and always staying home because it would be terrible to "waste" all that money. I'm reminded of John Piper's practical questions about money, particularly this one: Is it an occasional, expensive nonessential that would say an extraordinary 'I love you'? This trip was certainly occasional, expensive and nonessential but I'm embracing the experience as the extraordinary 'I Love You' that it was.
Vacations are definitely overrated but they are also so much fun! I am so thankful for the opportunity to spend quality family time enjoying some of the amazing sights of this world God created and watching history come alive before our eyes.
All that being said.......
Just call me Duffy.
Pictures coming soon... sometime after I emerge from the piles of laundry and back to school adjustments...