Last week, my sister in law got married in St. Louis. We drove the troops the thousand miles from Virginia to Missouri to be there, for several reasons:
- Tess is an amazing human being whose whole person is just filled up constantly with love for the people around her. She makes everyone she talks to feel important and listened to and supported. So you want to support her right back. She is the kind of person you travel long distances for.
- I’ve known Tess since she was seven and I had just started dating her older brother. SEVEN, people. Now it’s twenty years later and she is all grown up. Seeing her married is like watching one of those old family movies where everything’s gold-tinted and slightly fuzzy and moving quickly and everyone is smiling and hugging. Seeing her married is like watching fireflies at dusk on a warm summer night: it feels like the perfect end to the kind of perfect day that feeds your soul.
- She’s family. You do your best to be there for your family.
- We were practically ALL in the wedding. We had no choice.
I’ve had this family for a while now, and I have packed for road trips before. Granted, we do not travel long distances very frequently; once a year at the very most. Partly because the logistics are complicated and often exhausting. Partly because of the expense. And partly because the Hubs’ schedule does not allow for much traveling unless you are awesome at planning things a year out. We are decidedly NOT awesome at planning things that far in advance. It gives our Type B selves palpitations to pin ourselves down like that. Who even KNOWS what our lives will look like in a year? We could have ENTIRELY NEW members of the family in a year, for crying out loud! My point being: traveling is hard when you have a big family.
For the Hubs, travel means showing up at the car with keys in hand on the appointed date, ready to drive. For me, it means days and days and weeks and weeks of preparation and shopping and laundry and cleaning and lists and packing and packing and packing. It is an exhausting prospect. The preparation for this trip seriously challenged my organizational skills. Clothes for 8 people for one week, including outfits for each of us for the rehearsal dinner and of course the wedding garb itself — just getting everyone the proper shoes took weeks. It was crazy. But I did it. My point being: I really love Tess.
The clothes packed, the car loaded, we drove to St. Louis. It was one thousand miles, but I like to say we drove two thousand miles, because I want everyone to fully understand how big this trip felt to me. It was a little out of my comfort zone; I wasn’t sure how everyone would do in the hotels; and I was a little unsure we’d be able to find hotel accommodations along the way that would work for us. Plus, the day before the trip, Bennett (who is two and a half) suddenly announced he would like to start using the potty. Oooookaaaayyyyy. Not the best timing, kid. But I went with it.
But actually, the road trip went really well. We got there in a day and a half, which is great time. Bennett stayed dry the whole trip and loved using the Super Duper Potty (known in other circles as a urinal) in the public restrooms. He successfully slept in real beds (not cribs like he is used to) for the first time. It was a very smooth trip. It was like a dream trip. I kept thinking, wow. Maybe I overreacted. Maybe there was nothing to be worried about! Maybe we should do this more often!
But everything is temporary.
First, Bennett awoke the second morning having had a dream that there were dogs in his diaper. “Dere were doggies in my dipes! Dey were laughing at me! Dey go: heeheehee!” Then he refused to pee on the potty. My poor baby thought dogs were going to come out of him. People. I have potty trained five kids so far, and this was a new one to me. I’m pretty sure you can’t google “child afraid he will pee dogs”. The first time he did pee on the Super Duper Potty after this dream, he was elated: “Wook! Dere’s no puppies! Just pees!” But he still remained afraid that dogs would, eventually, appear and laugh at him. Dogs: 1. Potty Training: 0.
The wedding events went well. We only had minor snafus… Kara (a junior bridesmaid) managed to lose one of the earrings she was supposed to wear within 20 seconds of putting it on, causing us to scramble for an appropriate plan B. I could not find Bennett’s clothes anywhere, even though I was sure I had packed them (I had, and did find them, but not before we ironed outfit B so I just changed plans). Upon arriving at the church and seeing the other bridesmaids, I realized my dress was missing a sash that the other bridesmaids had. Oh well. We got through it all. We had a great time with family. I drank a lot of champagne. It was fun.
Then we left to come home.
A trip that took us a day and a half of driving on the way there took us THREE DAYS of driving on the way back. Which proves my point that when you are traveling with children, you just cannot predict what will happen. Anything can go wrong; you can be delayed for twenty or thirty different reasons. I was afraid it would happen, but after such a smooth trip to the wedding the week before, I’d scolded myself for not being more optimistic. Y’all, that was just realism. Being nervous that the trip could take longer than normal was not me being pessimistic. It was me having children and knowing what that means. We got lucky the first time. Not so much the second. I can’t even tell you why it took so long. It remains a mystery involving a lot less bladder control and a lot more traffic. But all was not lost: since it was already taking forever, I got to go to 3 antique stores, because hell— if it’s going to take us three days, it might as well take us threeeeee daaaaaayyyyysss. I bought a tole tray. It’s pretty.
I’m so glad we took the time and made the crazy trip halfway across the country to St. Louis. I’d never been there before and it was a really fun city. All of the turn of the century architecture reminded me of Main Street at Disney. Very World’s Fair, very Lady and the Tramp. My only disappointment is I did not get to have any BBQ. Not sure how that happened. Pretty sure I ate everything else. All of the family time and the special events made for great memories for all of us, especially the children.
I successfully squelched my fear of heights just enough to let most of my kids go to the top of the Arch with Mike. I try not to think about it too much. (Of course I didn’t go. That thing is 600 feet high! No part of me needs to be up there.)
My in-laws and their extended families are good people. Getting to see and visit with them was good for our souls.
“It is such a happiness when good people get together — and they always do.” ~Jane Austen