This weekend was a long weekend for us, extended a little extra by choice. It was a wonderful weekend. We traveled to visit in-laws who live 5 hours away. Saturday was a day for the Trucker to enjoy his family. I chose to stay behind with my kids at their house, while everyone enjoyed an afternoon of golf.
First, I'd like to mention that in my dark places and dark days, I hated those moments. I felt the pressure of packing and preparing just to arrive somewhere and be 'stuck' at the house with my kids. I have often felt that it was time wasted; after all, I could just as easily spend a whole day alone with my kids at home. Why drive five hours to do it? This time my perspective had shifted a bit.
I realized I had a perfect opportunity to do NOTHING. I didn't have to clean house. I didn't have to do laundry. I had absolutely no commitments anywhere. So, the kids and I had a glorious day of doing... nothing.
Which leads to the second point. In the process of doing nothing, we did so much more. I had no timelines, no deadlines, no chores; so, when the kids asked to do something, I could easily say "Yes." We relaxed, took things slow and did whatever we felt like. It started with a little soak in a hot tub; Angel Baby quite enjoyed it. After lunch, we walked up the street to the park. We played until we just didn't feel like playing anymore. It was a great time and I have a ton of pictures. (I won't be posting them, sorry, I don't post many pictures of my kids here). We headed back to the house and relaxed. I read and the kids played. Then, we were due for another dip in the hot tub... because, well, when you have a hot tub at your disposal, you USE it. It's just a simple fact of life, right?
I did go out with the adults in the evening for a few hours, but up until then the kids had 100% of my attention, all day. A rare treat for all of us. They didn't have to wait when they asked me a question. I didn't have to put down a phone or turn away from a computer. The kids didn't even turn on the TV for the whole day. We were all content to just do what felt right to us.
One thing that made me feel good, one of many things that day, was that it didn't seem strange or awkward to any of us. The kids were not shocked by my attention. This was a great reminder that I must be doing something right. They know that they can count on my attention any time, so it was not a weird adjustment when I shifted and focused on them for a full day. That makes me proud.
Even that night, when I crawled into an unfamiliar guest room bed, I was filled with such a feeling of peace. I was calm in a way I hadn't been for months. I've moved my life away from those dark places and can truly feel the sunshine in my life.
This peaceful feeling carried me through the whole weekend. And as we set off on our five hour drive home, the vehicle was a happy place.
No one had any reason to rush. We stopped in so many little places on our drive home that it took more than seven hours to make our 5 hour trip. There were no electronics in the vehicle. The kids played and giggled that full belly giggle that makes everyone laugh. We explored a few places along the highway that we'd never stopped at before.
By the time we got home, we were all exhausted but not with that 'drained and empty' feeling from a boring five hour drive. We were exhausted from happiness. Each of the kids fell asleep quick that night, and all three with smiles and sweet dreams.
I did try hard in my dark days to make these little moments happen. I am certainly glad that I did! I'm happy that no matter how hard it was to roll out of bed and even get dressed some days, I just kept doing it. I'm glad that even though I had days where I just wanted to lock myself in the bathroom just to get away from children, I didn't. I sat and listened to the crazy exaggerated stories that my children fed me twelve times or more. I looked them in the eye when they spoke as often as I could manage. And now, it's just something that happens all on it's own. I don't have to force myself to step off the beaten trail and do something different. I don't have to force myself to dive in with the kids and live like they do. I can just BE.
The old story goes "Practice Makes Perfect" and this is one instance where every ounce of practice I put forth has paid off tenfold. Even the Trucker is picking it up, he had no hesitation at all to stop at these random places and explore, just like we did on our long mountain trip last year. We are a much better family unit than we have ever been before and it just comes naturally.
We are finally living life right.