The days are long, but the years are short when raising children. My children, just like your children, are my world. But the struggle to raise healthy and happy children is real! The work this takes is equally just as demanding as it is satisfying. Raising children comes with many stories and many of them extremely funny when we look back on them. The trouble though is that we, as mothers who are working their way through it all, either may not think so or may not be able to laugh in the moment.
As a mother of multiple children, I feel pulled in seventy different directions and that is on a good day. Parenting in a pragmatic way is just not logical. Never in a rational world, would one say, “Don’t eat your sister’s buggers.” Again, we use our logic as parents with very unreasonable subjects.
We have all had those days where we look back and wonder how we made it across the finish line. When I look back at all the trying days and exhausting moments, there is always one that stands out above the rest and highlights just how comedic the job of raising children can seem once all the dust has settled.
Let me first explain that I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of parent. Sure, I like scheduled bedtimes and can attest to my love of naptimes. These quiet moments are some of my favorite points of the day! But I also enjoy the freedom of being able to get up and go on an adventure. In my opinion, naps will be there tomorrow.
Given my love for living in the moment, there is one specific day that will forever define me as a parent. This particular memory doesn’t retell anything overly tragic or even exhilarating. The accompanying story only seems ludicrous now that I can look back on it and laugh. Simply put, I made the sporadic decision to embark on a twelve-hour drive with my three children, then ages nine, five and three.
If you have ever attempted something like this, whether planned or not, you undoubtedly just got a shudder at what I was voluntarily putting myself through. Long road trips with a car full of children never cease to be filled with difficulties.
But the story doesn’t just start with us getting in the car and heading out. First you need to pack for the trip and that task with children is like arranging a symphony orchestra. It is never a small undertaking by any means, but this is all part of the adventure, correct?
Thankfully the hubby was able to pack up the Mom Mobile giving me one less thing to take care of before our departure. Now I should explain that the Mom Mobile is what I have dubbed any minivan for it is the chosen mode of transportation for those with multiple children. This vehicle has been our tried and true best friend when it comes to everything from running errands and shuttling kids around town. After all, what family with as many kids as ours doesn’t have a minivan?
After only an hour on the road my husband informed me that he would be joining us later on in the week. He had just bought a ticket to Mississippi, which was a very pleasant surprise.
Once the van was packed, and before anyone could say otherwise, I had the Mom Mobile on the road and we were off. We were happily maneuvering the roads of Charlotte, N.C., when the hubby happened to call. I could tell by the tone of his voice that there was some apprehension behind what he needed to tell me. “You will never believe what I just found in one the girls rooms?”
“I can’t even begin to guess, but I can tell you that I don’t like the sound of your voice.” I replied.
He cleared his throat and gave a slight laugh, the kind of laugh he used in situations he would find funny, but I would not. “Remember when Miss Priss was pulling her suitcase carefully behind her, well, I just found it.”
Some explanation is needed here to understand the gravity of this statement. My youngest spitfire of a daughter, who I am referring to as Miss Priss in this retelling, desperately wanted her own suitcase for our trip. She hated sharing a suitcase with her sisters and begged and pleaded that we get her a suitcase of her very own, which we did. Easy fix for a simple problem, right? The only problem with this was we never knew where that suitcase was going to be.
So strike one on our trip just occurred. This didn’t really worry me at the time. I even found a silver lining thinking that this may actually help me get ahead of my shopping for the next season that was rapidly approaching. With my attitude still full of hope for the wonderful adventure ahead, I replied, “No problem, I can run by some department store and get her couple new outfits for the summer anyway.”
The traffic on the interstate through Charlotte was, like normal, horrific. Soon enough I heard my oldest scream, “Mommy, Old Soul is making a weird noise.” Looking out of the corner of my eye I saw my middle daughter, Old Soul, quickly grab for the plastic bag her older sister was forcefully trying to hand her. What proceeded was a cacophony of noise as she emptied her stomach into that bag. Added to the noise was my youngest daughter Miss Priss yelling encouraging phrases like “ewe”, while my oldest daughter, attempted to help Old Soul through it all. Strike two.
I was still hopeful at this point. I knew how to combat Old Soul’s carsickness. This was a common occurrence on many of our longer trips and a quick trip into a pharmacy, and we would be back on the road.
Walking back to the van, my oldest daughter looks at me with such discomfort in her voice, “Hey, Mommy. My head really hurts. It just started.”
Blue Eyes, my oldest daughter, just looked at me with a weird look as I felt her head, thinking she might be getting sick and was running a fever. “No, Mommy, not that, it hurts up here on the outside of my head.”
After taking a quick look at her head I was able to easily determine the source of her discomfort. She was being invaded by a swarm of small crawly creatures. Lice! This now was strike three and the trip was over! But alas, the hubby had already bought a ticket and was planning to meet us in Mississippi in a few days. There was nothing I could do but continue this impromptu trip with my children. In case you’ve lost count, by this point I had one who was puking, one with a headful of lice, and a third with no clothes for the next day!
After a quick trip to the grocery store, I stopped at the next rest area I came across. I took a deep breath and turned to face my children. Old Soul was still continuing to vomit repeatedly despite everything I did to make her feel more comfortable. Blue Eye’s hair was covered in lice. I treated it the best I could while on the road with an over the counter remedy. To make matters worse, when I applied the lice shampoo, the creepy suckers started jumping off her scalp. I still scratch at my own head just thinking about it. After I treated her hair, I cut it into the shortest bob I could with a pair of dull over the counter scissors and continued on the final leg to Mississippi.
Motherhood is never the journey you expect it to be, but it is certainly the adventure you make it. This trip, which I have since dubbed The Journey to Hell, is one that I can look back on now with fond memories. Despite all the setbacks, we did end up having fun and made some lasting memories together.
In the end, childhood seems to come and go far too quickly. I know that soon my own children will be off and grown with families of their own. Like me, they will be confronted with situations where logic should provide answers to problems that seem to develop out of thin air. I can only hope that my children reach out to me in much the same way as I have reached out to my own mother, who could only laugh at my ridiculous true story. My children will have those same stories that I will delight in as my own mother did with my many stories throughout the years. As a young mother, appreciate every small moment because in a blink of an eye, they will be moved on to the next chapter in their life.
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