The Journey?! No Thanks!
Okay, Mamas…time to ask this honest question…does anyone else sometimes feel like being a mommy is emotionally like riding on a funhouse psycho rollercoaster? Well, my hand just shot up faster than I can even blink! I’m serious, this job is “the wildest ride in the weeeeiiillllderness!” (Disney fans, shout it out!) I’d bet money right here and now that for so many of you, no explaining is needed about my rollercoaster analogy. This mommyhood thing is unnerving! Before I fall over the next cliff in the journey, I’ll spit out my latest adventure in parenting….
This blog post was supposed to be entitled, “Enjoy the Journey”. When we were on the plane flying over here, Jeff and I had the loveliest view of the sunset, and then quite quickly we saw the sunrise on the opposite side of the planet. We smiled and just intuitively summons the notion that we had to have a blog post about the parenting journey, and the movement of time. Typical, we know, but it just seemed so naturally appropriate. I even took a photo of the beautiful orange sky over the wing of the airplane that was delivering the four of us to the beginning of our, sure to be fabulous, adventure.
You see, we are on vacation with our children…and I have to use the word children lightly these days since our babies are 18 and 15 now. We are traveling with these mini-us type individuals, who are really savvy about travel, thank goodness. And I say that sarcastically! Thank goodness they are so smart about directions and train cars and money conversion and, and, and, and, because they have consistently informed us throughout this trip that we couldn’t find our way without them. And they haven’t told us this in a soft, gentle, loving way. They’ve not minced words. They’ve shown us through their laughter and “in character” how we sound and look when we are grueling over a metro map to find our next location, or craning our necks to see what the next street is named. They claim (and are correct, d’oh!, but don’t tell them we agree) that we consistently think we know exactly where we are supposed to go, but that we are always wrong and that we are totally passive aggressive in our verbiage when so proved. So…on that note…let’s talk about enjoying the journey, shall we?
The journey. Moms everywhere are nodding their heads in unison as I discuss this topic. How many times have we been told this, ladies? “Enjoy the journey, the time is gone in the blink of an eye!” or “Embrace the little moments, they’ll be gone before you know it.” More heads are nodding. I for one, know these statements are indeed correct, as I am spending this last vacation before my biggest little one goes away to college and takes over the world, which OF COURSE means that this is our LAST vacation we will ever take together in our whole lives, right?
Roller coaster trip #1: I better enjoy this journey because she will never want to travel with us again!
Moms! You know these feelings! How in the world are we supposed to enjoy the journey when we feel like our world as we know it is changing that drastically?? GEEZ! Whether we are talking about first steps, first bites of solid food, or first years of college, it doesn’t matter. It always feels like nothing will ever be the same again; just a little shift that takes us closer to the next phase. Talk about unrealistic! And, yes, of course I’m telling myself OVER AND OVER AND OVER that she’s not morphing into a human being that will have nothing to do with us just because she’s going to fulfill her purpose in the world. Of course, our relationship and bonds are strong and integral, to all of us. We all know, however, that in the muck of that muddy part of the foreign journey, we don’t see the path too well! And that look that the two of them keep giving me…what’s the word for it? Oh yeah, PITY! While Jeff is rubbing my back in circles trying to ground me to the earth and all that is real, my kids are just sitting across the train station platform staring at me, wondering why I’ve spontaneously started crying AGAIN and shaking their heads in unison at what they see as my pathetic grasping to their childhoods. They are not understanding how in one second I can be laughing at the most hilarious joke our son slides into the conversation, and the next second, another joke that he thinks I’ll be tickled by makes me cry.
Roller coaster trip #2: I better enjoy this journey because he will be telling charming jokes to someone else and won’t even remember he had a mother!
Boys are so fun to raise. This son of mine is truly sonshine to me. He brightens my days. He is aggressive, passionate, fearless, and actively seeking; actively seeking adventure, actively seeking paths that lead to mysterious situations, and actively seeking people that bring excitement to his life. Ultimately, this active seeking is little by little leading him on an adventure away from his safe and cozy home. As we are in England on this vacation and are huge Lord of the Rings fans, I am consistently looking for Gollum to be lurking in the fields and meadows we are exploring, luring my son away from The Shire. Yeah right, enjoy the journey! How can I enjoy the journey when this journey is taking my adventurous boy to dangerous places that don’t include me buckling a life vest on him? Seriously! This kid says yesterday out of the blue, while we are sitting in a pub talking (again) about cars with him, “It’s weird I’ve worn this exact face for 15 years!” He grabbed his skin and started pulling on it. I grabbed a tissue and ran for the loo. Dips and speed and corkscrew turns aplenty!
And then let’s talk about the obvious when discussing being a mommy; guilt! There is no journey, that I’ve been on at least, that does not include its fair share. What have I been feeling guilty about on this trip? Where shall I begin?
Roller coaster trip #3: I better enjoy this journey because I don’t want to look back and regret everything I’ve missed while focusing on things other than our children!
Obviously, Jeff and I are in the midst of building our dream. Victory Garden Kids is precious to us, and we have dreamed about it since 1992, when we first discovered our idea, but it is a lot of work that we waited to start building because we were building our family. As we are working on completing our first book, we are typing and talking and brainstorming almost constantly. It’s what we have to do to grow VGK into everything we envision. This time away from our home has been great for that. We’ve had freedom from the everyday, consuming brain-draining activities to reiterate to one another our passions about our project. And then, in the time it takes for the roller coaster cart to plummet into the stomach-dropping dip, guilt kicks in! Every moment discussing our future (mine and Jeff’s as a couple) is a moment not enjoying the journey with our kids. How could I sacrifice that time with them? Sidenote: these two kids, I’m completely positive, are sitting up in their beds mourning the fact that we are out in the garden having tea and talking about our VGK baby. They have only slept in until noon everyday to escape the fact that we are occupied with something other than them. They are just hiding their feelings of complete betrayal by burying their noses in their computers. How dare we not be sitting at their bedsides, perusing social media with them. That’s what they really want, right? They want us to hover. This is how they know we love them, right?
And on and on it goes. The journey continues.
Even as our England adventure comes to a close, as the train is pulling into Platform 9 ¾ (how can I not quote Harry Potter when talking about a train station in England…) to take us to the airport that will take us back across the pond and back to all the craziness that we thrive on, crave, and stress about simultaneously, it seems the destination has been reached. But the one thing I have truly learned about being a mom, the journey is constant and the destination is non-existent; there is no getting off the ride and we don’t have to disembark and get back in line; so we can quit stressing about it. One adventure ends, but another has already begun, without our consent and without our meddling! We don’t have to keep telling ourselves to enjoy the journey. We can feel how we want to feel, and we can, and should, feel all the roller coaster emotions that are present. Denying ourselves the full range of emotions while on the ride robs us of the reason we got in the queue for the ride in the first place! So I say to you, to us, to FEEL! Don’t squash any emotion because your kids think you’re crazy! Don’t hide any turmoil because you’ve been told to enjoy and embrace! It all matters and it’s all important. That’s YOUR journey. And our journey is just as important as our kids’ journeys and our husband’s journey and our own parents’ journeys. Don’t deny yourself the full effects of the crazy psycho roller coaster! What a rush it is to feel the power of that wind in our faces and those butterflies in our stomachs. That’s the journey I want!