I’m evolving. I mean, my thoughts are evolving. I am coming to the conclusion that it may not be possible for me to hold a permanent position on most things. There’s so much to consider.
My blogging is changing. As in, slowing down. Possibly, close to coming to a halt. It’s hard to tell exactly when. I don’t know if blogging is necessary now. It used to feel necessary. I’m not surprised. Isn’t that life? We change and grow. We can only live the chapter we’re in today. The next chapter always holds changes in our story line. It’s fun to look back. It’s fun to see how previous chapters build a plot, and create a context for what happens next. What happens next isn’t possible without all of the what happened before. I think I’m getting it.
In the past, I have blogged detailed recaps of our spring break trips. Gosh. That was fun. This year, I will condense our spring break into the lessons I learned. Gosh, you know I love a good lesson. Gosh, I love the word Gosh.
We spent the week of spring break in a few ways: visiting a college in Kentucky for Eddie. Reuniting with my oldest friend at her home in North Carolina, and a few days on the beach. It was a happy week.
Here’s what I learned:
1.Hillbillies are not visible from the interstate. It’s quite a source of pride for my children and their cousins to know that their descendants on my mom’s side are Kentucky hill people. My mom has a picture of our kids’ great, great, great grandpa. He is a tall, handsome black man. He and his white wife, helped raised my grandma in the hills of Kentucky for a few years of her life, until she moved to Wisconsin with her parents. I would give a great deal to go back and talk to these great grandparents of mine. We thought that maybe we could get a glimpse of our history driving through the Appalachians. Didn’t happen. Unless the hill people are residing in truck stops, Walmarts and sports stadiums, we didn’t spot anything that looked quite like Kentucky Hill People. After one stop in Kentucky, Scott told me he thought someone at the gas station looked like me. He said maybe we were related. Scott’s a sport.
2. Some college kids prefer to get drunk on fun. Eddie visited a super cool college in Kentucky. He has a wrestling friend there who kept Eddie up all night with his wrestling buddies. They had crazy adventures that included long boarding down the hills of Kentucky (they didn’t see Grandpa either), and eating at a Waffle House at 3 am. These guys have thought of a hundred ways to have fun, and it’s the kind of fun they remember in the morning. I liked this school very much.
3. Flat tires. Boys become men. I was skeptical that our ol’ van could make a long trip like the one we took. Scott had confidence in the “Blue Bullet”. Scott was right. The van served us well. I really love that vehicle. We did have one flat tire. In the middle of nowhere. Late at night. In the middle of nowhere. Did I mention we were in the middle of nowhere? We heard a bad noise. I applied my solution for car trouble. I turned up the radio. Scott got all picky about it though, and made us pull over. When we realized we had a flat, I instantly went into parental problem solving mode. But then I quickly saw how my two teenage boys-becoming-men were all over this problem with their Dad. I noticed none of the guys expected Olivia and I to get out of the car. It seemed like the boys were kind of operating on instinct, and I am not ashamed to say that my heart swelled. Don’t get me wrong. I’m about partnerships. I’m all about how women can run the world, and run it well. But, I’m not gonna lie. I like knowing the men in my life feel a little protective sometimes. I’m not even going to try to reason that out with ya’. It’s a bit primal, but there you have it. The truth is out, and that’s how I feel.
4. Liking your kids + modeling kindness + correction = nice kids. My oldest friend has triplet boys, and a daughter. Her kids are so sweet and well behaved. We fell in love with them. I wasn’t surprised at all. My friend is a few years behind me in the parenting game. She’s at that stage where you have to referee and correct a lot. Don’t get me wrong, her children were golden. I mean, these kids had the best manners EVER. I just happened to come around the corner in the morning to see my friend settling an argument her kids were having between themselves while playing a game in the yard. I know. Huge shock, ’cause that almost never happens with siblings. It made me chuckle to see the serious looks on the kids’ faces, and what a good job my friend was doing of reminding them to be nice, and could they promise to remember to be nice before she let them go play again? It reminded me of how hard it is to be a good parent. I wish I could go back, and offer my younger parental self some reassurance. I’d say, “Hey Mik, these boys aren’t going to be beating the crap out of each other forever. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Keep up the silly lectures, and handing out the consequences, because some day you’ll be glad you did. Some day, you’ll see that all your man hours weren’t completely for nothing; those wildly aggressive puppies will some day become more like your friends.”
5. I’m easily influenced – After 24 hours in the South, I had a Southern accent. I thought it to be quite authentic, and I felt it couldn’t be helped. My kids begged me to stop. Again, if I could help it, I would.
6. I’d rather eat better food than more food – My super awesome family indulged me on this. I asked them if we could skip fast food, in favor of spending more money on higher quality food. They agreed. The plan was a success. We had some delicious meals made with local ingredients. See, that’s another thing you couldn’t get away with when your kids are young. I like teenagers.
7. Vacationing with teenagers does not improve your self esteem. We were in some close quarters on the road. Someone always had to share a bed. I made a joke about me sharing a bed with Eddie. Before I even got the joke out of my mouth, Eddie hollered in utter disgust. Like I stabbed him. It was obvious that this notion was the MOST disgusting event Eddie could conceive of in his mind. And, let me remind you, Eddie wears ripped sweats, that you could crack in half from all the attached crust. Really? I’m THAT disgusting?
8. Vacationing with teenagers will not improve your marriage. It is best to have a strong relationship before you attempt to vacation with teenagers. Teenagers will not abide any interaction between their parents that looks a bit like love, affection or fondness. I believe at one point when we were driving, I tried putting my hand on Scott’s neck, and I received a swift slap on the arm with an unopened Gogurt from one of the teenage ingrates. I’m sorry. I lost my head. I forgot that Scott and I were merely tour guides. I didn’t let it happen again.
9. Families from Wisconsin can enjoy the beach in most weather – Zeke and Olivia had never seen an ocean. Eddie had been to the ocean once. The temperature was in the 60’s, and we had the best darn day at the beach. We had the sunburn to prove it.
10. Trapped in a van for days with my teenagers, who at times find me disgusting, and who will not accept that I am in a non-platonic relationship with their father, is my favorite place to be on Earth. Seriously. For real. This is the truth. I had moments on this trip when we were laughing and talking with these teenagers, and my heart was so full. I couldn’t express the love in my heart, because teenagers aren’t always up for hearing about how a mother loves. But, let it be known. I am keenly aware that my family is at the end of the time in our lives when our trips look like this trip looked. These five people are likely to expand and grow. Additions to the family will be a blessing, and additions will be loved. But, additions will be the next chapter. I’m going to appreciate every word and moment in the pages of this chapter we are in now. I LOVE this chapter!!!