It’s spring break in Grand Haven, but spring break or not, we’ve always been a family that travels. For a week or sometimes just a couple days, we hit the road whenever we get a green light to go. We are privileged in this way, having been able to show our boys so much of this country at such young ages. Their excitement each time they discover something unexpected, something new, makes the work of these trips worth it. Burrowing down into crisp hotel sheets at the end of a full day with all of my children gathered in the same room, I listen to them drift off one by one until I am the only one left awake. This is when I finally recount the hours, tucking the highlights away for a bit of warmth on a day when it’s hard to find the sun.
2020 has taken its toll on everyone. Each of us feels the pressure building as the election year, an ongoing pandemic, and the continuous tide of racial injustice violently collide, one thing against another against another. And though our individual worries may differ greatly and our lives are impacted to varying degrees, few of us can deny the unexpected strain and frustration this year has brought.
It is the week of the Fourth, and COVID or not, Americans are traveling. My family is no exception.
We pack our bags, jigsaw the backend of our gas-guzzling SUV until everything fits, then wait an extra hour on a last-minute package from Amazon. It is nothing if not American.
We are rebels charging down a two-lane highway. We are free. The radio blares. Kids buckled snugly in the back ask every few minutes where we’re going. We don’t answer. We’re just driving, and it feels good.
This current crash course in introversion has been rough.
“Did you know that some people charge two, even three dollars for a cup of coffee? Coffee!” the cashier scoffs as my husband hands her $1.25 for the gas station blend that’s been sitting on the warmer since dawn. It’s pushing 1 o’clock, and we are the only patrons in this forgotten town.
“It’s really about the anticipation of the trip - not the trip itself,” I overhear the tired mother tell the eager insurance salesman over coffee. He nods his head and says something about a pricey trip to the ocean, thousands of dollars spent and nothing remembered by ungrateful children. He’s trying to make a sale; she’s trying to be heard.
Mama, you need rest. You need a space of your own to know what you know and feel what you feel, sheltered from the eyes and the point of a finger, away from that obligatory smile and laugh and nod along to sentiments that do not move you.
I’m learning to parent like I’m dying. Tomorrow, or next Tuesday, sometime soon. Death is imminent. And really, it kind of is. In the grand scheme of things, the hundreds of millions of billions of souls floating back and forth from Earth to sky, our death is imminent. We are all dying. Every day. Every... Continue Reading →
I left on a Tuesday morning and figured I would find her by noon, somewhere after my second Bloody Mary in an airport bar. She’d been out wandering, but I was finally going to catch up with her. The reunion had been playing in my mind for years, but lately, her face was fading and I couldn’t quite recall the sound of her voice.
I am sitting on my couch listening to the slow whine of my youngest child from the other room. It’s 10:30, and he hasn’t quite adjusted back to Eastern Standard Time following our vacation out west. The neighbors aren’t helping. Outside, fireworks erupt in a never-ending chorus of pops and crackles with the occasional resounding... Continue Reading →