Outlasting the Outtakes

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.

My Only Resolution

“Wagon Wheel” pounds from the radio, and we are headed south. “Louder,” shouts a kid from the back. I should insist on manners but don’t. I’m so tired of talking. “Where we going?” says the baby. “Mama! Where we going?” he repeats. “To the mountains,” I say. “Where?” “To the mountains.” “Where?” Forget it. It’s impossible to hear in this car, but the song and the sun beat against my chest, begging me to turn it up, so I do. We are calling in the good spirits to bring back that joy we lost all those months ago. Joy was a fickle friend last year, and the warmth soaking through the windshield says she promises to change. She means it this time; I want to believe it. As the chorus hits, my husband points out a waterfall charging down the rocky roadside, a scene created by heavy morning rain. The kids keep count of each stream leaping off the edge. Eventually, an argument erupts. There is a cheater in our midst, someone fudging numbers to claim all the glory for himself.

Death of a Coffee Shop

“I’m selling the shop,” he said. “With places like these, you never know what kind of offer will come when you’re finally ready, so if you get one that’s any good, you have to take it.” A week later, he walked out the door into retirement and my beloved heroine was left slumped over a laptop, deflated once again.

Restaurants for Families on the Road

I love to travel because I love to eat, but when the hungry babies start howling from the backseat, I've learned to put my foodie preferences aside and make some concessions. Once we've arrived safely at our destination and everyone has had a solid night's rest, I can demand a farm-to-table house of kale complete with hipsters, their ill-fitting clothes, and all the pretentiousness. Until then, here's my list of "go-to" gourmet:

How You Know the Vacation is Over

I am sitting at a Holiday Inn, chasing cold peanut butter toast with thin coffee. Behind me, I hear my five-year-old grunting and growling. There are intermittent high-pitched squeals and smacks against a pillow or maybe the mattress. I can’t be bothered to turn around. Then the crying begins, building in intensity with deep, dramatic inhales to catch his breath and long snuffs of snot being sucked back into his head. He is expressing frustration over his breakfast.

My Dreaded Day of Fun

There are times when I make motherhood a lot harder than it needs to be. This usually presents itself in the way I overload our calendar with obligations and commitments that I end up regretting when the time arrives. I wake up dazed and drained from a night of bed-hopping and bad dreams, and Mama just wants to stay home; my calendar says otherwise.

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