Saturday, April 2, 2011

Road Schooling Reflections

When we travel as a family certain roles and responsibilities just fall upon either Greg or I.  For example, he always pumps the gas, unloads and reloads the car, handles the hotel and all the finances of the trip.  I pack and unpack the kids, determine healthy eating options, plan activities, and manage the day to day schedule of the trip.  We have never discussed why this is, it just is.  
Traveling alone with the girls on a thirty-two hour car ride gave me time to reflect on my relationship with them, their relationship with each other and the overall health of our family.....

A long car ride now cannot possibly compare to the long car rides of my youth.  It is much easier for the children and the parents now that we have the inventions of ipods (we traveled with 5!), Sirius/XM radio (I loved listening to Andrew Wilkow uninterrupted!), cell phones that keep us in constant contact with those we left behind at home, and a car that gets at least 45 miles per gallon requiring much fewer pit stops.  I had to make a point of telling them that none of these existed when I was a child.  I used to have to look at clouds, make up stories in my mind, try to read (until I got carsick), and sleep.  My girls did do some of these things, but for a much shorter time.  Even I will admit that looking at clouds cannot sustain a child for 16 hours......

My ability to parent with intentionality, kindness and compassion is much greater than I originally thought.  I was a bit scared to take this trip.  I imagined all the what ifs...what if I got a flat, what if I got lost, what if the long trip drove us crazy, what if I really needed my partner in life to make this trip possible?  None of these things happened.  If they did, I had a plan.  I am a member of AAA, I have a cell phone, I have a GPS with directions and a map, and most importantly, I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for.
Traveling without a partner means that everything fell on my shoulders.  I had to delegate.  The girls carried their own bags, and were responsible for their own things.  They made their own breakfast at the hotel ( for which they received a compliment from the hotel staff!), and used their own money to pitch in for the tip to the housekeeper who would clean our room when we left.  When we exited our car, they picked up the trash and crumbs that accumulated from hours of playing and eating in the backseat.  They were not simply children, they were contributing members of our family.    

When we were on the road I noticed other families traveling.  Our trip was not very stressful, it was one major highway for 90% of the drive.  However, I did see other families who were under stress.  What impacted me was how the parents did not accept responsibility for their own behavior.  I cringed at the parents yelling at their children when their children reached the end of their patience.  It made me think about my relationship with my girls.  I have not always thought of myself as having copious amounts of patience.  I get frustrated too, especially with arguing.  This trip taught me to step back and examine a situation first to find the cause, then address/redirect/or ignore.   I now think of myself as patient.  

I want this journey on self-discovery to continue.  Right now my relationship with my girls is very strong.  This trip was magical in some ways.  We feel very bonded and connected.  We have more trips in the Boston, to Cape Cod, to Tennessee and to Virginia.  I am going to look into the Niagara Falls trip for Lilah, maybe in June....


  1. Jess, these last few posts of your have inspired me so much. Since it is just Kei and I, I always balk at just 'taking off' on a road trip. The "what ifs" overwhelm me.

    You did it so flawlessly and I have loved, loved reading about your trip. It looked so memorable. :)

  2. And this is why I am the worlds biggest fan of road trips! You explained it much more eloquently than I could have. We did Niagara falls a few years ago, and LOVED that trip. Do a search on my blog of Canada. Such good times!

  3. I've loved your road trip series, Jessica! Can we go on another one soon? When can we leave? I'm ready!!

    You've shared and discovered so much together—it's been beautiful. Thank you so much for taking us with you :)

  4. I definitely have the road trip bug! I am hoping to do Boston in May and maybe Niagara Falls in June. I am going to apply for passports for the girls and renew mine so we can venture into Canada while we are at the falls. I am even thinking an Amtrak adventure!

  5. If you are getting passports, do I see Mexico in your future?
    Missing you!

  6. We love road trips too, and just did our annual 22 hour trip to SC, and yes, I am thankful for iTouches, DS's and DVD's. We all got along very well, and we will be on the road again soon. We did Niagara Falls last August, and we will be heading to Cape Cod this summer. It is funny how a 6 hour trip is "short" now, and the kids hardly notice it. Once you have done 22 straight hours, 6 is nothing (or 3 movies, as they put it).

  7. I am so glad that your trip went so well! I am so glad that you did it and were given the opportunity to learn not only about your girls but yourself as well. Moments like those are amazing

    I am a driver, I love to get in the car and just go. You have given me the road trip bug as well. It has been a while since we have done one, besides going to see my parents.

    When you ready for another loooonngggg road trip, you can always drive to Texas. Our door is always open. Your is would be shocked by the amount of open space here!!! ;0)


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