A friend on Facebook posted this yesterday and it resonated with me…
….especially because we just returned from a trip from Florida and I had posted a quick recap in pictures. OF COURSE I picked the best pictures – the ones where the kids were smiling, you couldn’t see my double chin and the sun was shining. Essentially, all I showed were the highlights, so in the interest of full disclosure let me tell you a bit more about what a 2400+ mile road trip looks like with my family.
First, we drove from our home in NY to Virginia to St. Augustine to Orlando to Tampa and then home again. We are not a family who can drive overnight – we *need* to be in a hotel by 9:30 because no one can sleep in a car and we all start to get a little bitchy if we don’t get our sleep. So, the Hubs had it all planned out- we’d leave our house by 1, run a few errands, get the kids from school by 1:40 and be where he wanted to be in VA by 8 pm to spend the night. He insisted I make reservations at his hotel of choice because he KNEW we’d make it there without any issues. And I refused because this isn’t my first rodeo and I KNOW how a family road trip goes.
As we always do, we left late, forgot to run one of our errands, panicked that we didn’t leave the key for our house sitter, realized the Hubs forgot to put his car charger in my car (which was my fault, some how) and finally grabbed the kids at 2:30. Honestly, not so bad as far as our road trips go. We finally did make it to the hotel the Hubs wanted to that night – a blessed Country Inn and Suites so the kids could sleep* while the Hubs and I relaxed in the living room. (*they didn’t sleep, they wrestled, yelled, had a pillow fight, used the beds as trampolines and generally were loud pains in the asses and we didn’t care because we were tired and it was only Day 1. Parenting: killing it since 2006!).
The next day was uneventful (well, as uneventful as 12 hours of driving can be: no blood was shed, no one puked and the car didn’t break down) and we made it to St. Augustine for our overnight. We had a 45 minutes wait at our favorite restaurant so we played on the beach across the street. Pure bliss after 12 hours in the car!
The next day, it was on to Disney! We are very, very lucky that the Hubs has family that works there and are kind enough to get us in the parks for free, otherwise there is no way this could be an annual destination because Disney is expensive and I’m cheap. We stayed at the beautiful Coronado Resort and managed to find that great mix between busy and relaxed (read: we spent a lot time at the pool).
We’ve learned over the years that while Disney can be the most magical place on earth, it’s crowded, noisy, overstimulating and overwhelming no matter how many times you go there. I never wanted to be that mom that dragged her sobbing kids through the parks (I *may* still have some issues around Disney as I was the sobbing kid <at age 14> being dragged around the park. Not one of my finest moments) but that doesn’t mean meltdowns don’t happen:
- While in line for Aladdin’s Magic Carpet, the ride broke down. Really, it was like a 4 minute pause- but it was justenough time for the kids to start arguing over who got to control the ride (choosing if we went up or down or side to side). I had to pull my children- my TWELVE and TEN YEAR OLD children – apart because they wouldn’t stop squabbling over this freaking ride. There was name calling, getting in each other’s faces and posturing over who got to PUSH A LEVER. The family with 5 kids aged 3 – 9 were staring. It was awesome.
- The hotel has one large pool and and a bunch of smaller pools. There was a smaller pool next to our building that the kids preferred because there were no life guards and they could try to drown each other without anyone yelling at them (don’t judge- my book was good and I was keeping an eye on them. They assured me they’d tap out if they went too long without breathing). One of the days, it was only 65 degrees out, but the sun was shining and we’re hardy NY folks, so the kids wanted to swim. Perfect, let’s do it.
Only the Bean decided she wanted NOTHING to do with Scorch while in the pool and Scorch decided he wanted to be her “personal helper dolphin” who needed to stick next to her like glue. We finally told Scorch he had to stay 10 feet away from her at all times, figuring that would solve the squabbling. Clearly, we’re new to this parenting thing.
The Bean LOST HER SHIT because Scorch kept looking at her. When we pointed out that the only way she knew he was looking at her is if she was looking at him….well, she didn’t care. He was LOOKING AT HER and that must be stopped. IMMEDIATELY. She was so mad at this point she was vibrating, which made Scorch and I immediately start to laugh so hard we cried and the Hubs to yell at all of us for being morons.
- Don’t even get me started on the night Scorch found a spider on their shared bed. The boys ended up sharing a bed that night while I shared a bed with Bean, trying (at first calmly, and then not so much) to explain why changing rooms at 10 pm was NOT going to happen. Gooooood times.
That’s the “personal helper dolphin” dogging his sister. What is a “personal helper dolphin”? Damned if I know- 12 year olds are weird.
We survived Disney and headed over to my parent’s place on the Gulf side of the state for a few days of pure relaxation before heading back home. Honestly, despite some glitches, the trip had really been fantastic.
But, sadly, all good things must come to an end and Friday we packed the car back up and got on the road to head home. All was well until we hit South Carolina and, within miles of crossing the boarder, we ran over debris over the road. The Hubs and I exchanged a look, hoped what we ran over was soft plastic and crossed our fingers. That worked great until the tire pressure light went off about 20 miles later – at 4:15. On a Friday. Did I mention my snow tires were still on my car? Do you think tire shops in South Carolina even stocks snow tires? Yeah, me either.
Blessed be southern hospitality though because, after a panicked phone call, we were able to limp into a tire shop at 4:40 (with an audibly hissing tire) and have our car looked at immediately by Buddy. Buddy, my new BFF, was able to patch our tire – otherwise we would have been stranded until MONDAY afternoon – and we were back on the road within an hour. Buddy, a man who I will name my next pet after <because I’m NOT having more kids> stayed an hour late to get us rolling, charged us $23 and bid us a safe trip.
Clearly we didn’t make it as far as we wanted that night, something that infuriated my type-A husband, but we did manage to book another suite in a hotel so the kids could go to bed while the Hubs and I decompressed. Only, when we checked in, there weren’t any suites left – something they told me AFTER I paid, despite telling me that was what I was booking over the phone.
Again, no big deal- talk about a first world problem right? We’ll just all turn in and get an early start in the morning. Only- the other thing we weren’t told was that there was a biker convention in town. *sigh* I have no issues with bikers, but what I do have issues with is bikers pulling in and out all night in front of our hotel, revving their engines keeping us all awake. To add insult to injury, all the beds were all sagging in the middle, the kids refused to sleep in the same bed and the ice machine was right outside our door.
The only upside was that we got on the road super early the next morning. The drive home went swimmingly until about 2 hours in when the Bean got sick.
Because, of course she did.
Thankfully she was just car sick and not sick-sick and I’ve learned my lesson to never travel without Dramamine and a bucket – so all was well(ish) pretty quickly. We got home safely after 12 hours on the road and my newly fixed tire didn’t decide to start leaking again until this morning. And the Bean? Well, she decided to puke an hour after getting to school today.
All in all, the trip was amazing – but honestly, if you looked at the pictures, you’d think it was amazing 24/7. But it wasn’t. Life isn’t and to expect it to be is unreasonable. I’m very thankful that I’m blessed with two amazing kids, a husband who drives the whole time so I can read, the means to travel and jobs that give us this flexibility. We’ve had some amazing trips and some truly terrible trips (I’m looking at you, camping trip of 2018). We’ve had trips where 3 out of the 4 of us have gotten the stomach bug (Disney, 2017), trips where 3 out of 4 of us have ended up crying on vacation, trips where the Hubs got both the flu AND mono (FL 2016) and trips where just everything sucked and we really didn’t like each other.
That’s just how life goes. But we keep going, keep making memories (good and bad) and use Facebook or Instagram to highlight the very best parts. When we share stories of our trips with friends and family a few years from now – are we going to remember the short wait time in Epcot? The killer dinner in St. Augustine? Most likely not. But we’re never going to forget the the kindness of Buddy and the absolute fit Scorch threw when Bean started puking!