I wouldn’t be able to tally all the times last year Scott and I looked at each other and bemoaned that the traveling and the national parks, the museums and monuments- maybe it was a colossal waste.
The kids whined EVERYWHERE. They fought EVERYWHERE. They told us they were bored. They asked when we would leave. It never got better. It was an ass kicking, and it got the best of us more than once.
There are some people who say their kids go to parks and museums, and they find themselves in nature and culture. They draw what they see, and come away with an insatiable desire to learn more. Oh, how all this travel fills them with such joy! They see the world changing through their children’s eyes!
I’m not saying they are lying.
I am saying they are not us.
The joy we found, we had to search for in between incessant asks for snacks and eye-rolls because we asked them to fill out a Jr. Ranger packet– as their sole homeschool lesson for the day.
And now you probably think, wow, that sounds pretty damn miserable, and maybe you think, wow, our kids are pretty awful.
I would argue we’re just… normal.
I think we need to talk more about how family experiences aren’t typically magical in the moment. Take all the demands of parenthood, all the emotions of childhood, now pack them all up and take them with you to a place you don’t know, maybe there are actual grizzly bears there who would definitely eat your toddler, and make everyone walk and carry their own water (that’s a lie, you will carry all the water). SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT PLAN.
Still. Do it.
Travel with your kids, even if it’s awful and it feels like the worst idea ever. Travel isn’t always pretty.
2 nights ago, Scott was away with the two littles to work on our RV down at my mom’s. I was in our rental house with the 2 bigs. We sat down for dinner, and they started arguing because that’s the soundtrack of our lives right now. As a way of distracting them, I blurted out:
“Grand Canyon or Antelope Canyon?” They responded with a unanimous vote for Antelope Canyon.
“White Sands or Carlsbad Caverns?” White Sands.
“Whale watching or San Diego Zoo?” The zoo won out.
They asked me to keep going, and I did for as long as I could, trying to recall every place we stopped, all the monuments and the parks, the foods we ate.
Mount Rushmore won one of these this-or-thats, and y’all, that’s bananas because MR was a nightmare. That was not our family’s finest hour.
I got up from the table to clean up, and they sat there, talking about all these things we did with such passion. Asking each other what they missed most about it, what they loved most about it, would they move there? There were my two bigs, no longer fighting with each other, but bonding over this incredible shared experience.
No matter how challenging our time on the road was, we have never regretted it, and I know we never will. We may look back someday and talk about how magical it was, but I hope we remember that the magic came from LIVING it- imperfect, messy, sometimes unhappy- and not just blissfully passing through it.
Even if it sucks, travel with your kids.