When I was married, every spring break, my husband and I would take our children and drive to Florida. My parents bought a ranch in Ocala when my daughters were young, and visiting them became our Spring Break tradition. Although, I really disliked the drive (18 hours), over the years, those memories of the drive, were what my girls spoke of the most when they would reminisce about those vacations. Isn’t it funny what kids enjoy – often, it is the little things.
The drive to Florida is not a particularly hard drive, it is just long, really long… Driving through the mountains in Tennessee is a bit of an adventure, the traffic through “Hotlanta” (aka Atlanta) can be pretty taxing, but there are also really beautiful places along the way to enjoy and take in. The way we worked the trip down, was Eddie drove (he’s like a machine and can go the distance), and I would take care of the kids. I would make sure they had plenty of snacks, coloring books, and activities to keep them busy, so Eddie could focus keeping us safe. My role was taking care of the kids, packing, and occasionally taking the wheel for a couple of hours. Teamwork. It was fun and we all felt safe… We were a team, we had it, and we always got to my parents safe and sound.
So here I am. Me, Myself and I.
I’ve committed to taking us. Driving (20 hours each way)… all by myself. I don’t think my 11 year old can handle the wheel just yet! Although I feel a little scared, momentarily, I keep telling myself that I can do it! We book an Airbnb right on the beach, and it looks beautiful. We are starting to get excited about our adventure! As the weeks approached, I start making The List and getting everything we need for our vacation. As I lay our stuff out on the kitchen table, there is a moment where I am looking at all of it and thinking to myself, how much I am like my dad – he always had everything we needed (including light bulbs)! Now, that is My Role. It feels good being so organized, thinking things through and planning. I am liking this – I feel like a grown up – I’ve got this, I think to myself…
As the days are leading up to our departure, I feel a splashing of fear and insecurity start to move through me. I begin to wonder whether or not I can really do this. I feel myself starting to get a little overwhelmed – what was I thinking? I am all by myself and responsible for my son. I can’t let him know what I am feeling, I don’t want him to carry that feeling or worry. Most of all, I do not want him to be afraid – this is supposed to be a great adventure! So, I practice what I teach and preach to other’s – “Change your thinking, and FAST.” I begin imagining us on the beach playing, laughing, and feeling the sand in our feet…. A little relief and calmness soothes my soul. But, there is still something I can feel, although I am not really sure what it is.
Wednesday night, after I finish work, I decide to complete the rest of the packing, so that when I am done working Thursday night, we can pack the car and sleep a few hours before getting on the road. I come down the stairs and my son asks me a question, and I don’t remember what I said, but I responded in a snappy tone. This kid knows me well… One of the MANY beautiful qualities of my son, is that he is sensitive and really intuitive. He walks into my bedroom and sits down next to me, placing his arm around my shoulder. I just love this kid! “Mom, are you ok?” he asks. “Of course I am. Let’s get you ready for bed. I am sorry bud, I am tired and trying to get a lot done before we leave Friday morning.” He tells me he loves and hugs me (my heart just melts), and he heads up to bed to read for a little while before going to sleep. After he goes to bed, I walk back in my room and sit on my bed. I am looking at my packed suitcase (over packed and filled to the top), clothes, toiletries, charger chords, etc. and my eyes begin to fill with tears.
Ahhhh, here it is, the feelings I was not anticipating and memories I certainly didn’t want… The room fills with nostalgia, as my mind runs through different images of our family trips, seeing the fun we had – and how we were a unit, a family. Each drive was started with a traditional homage to “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, our large cups filled with hot coffee, the kids with all their travel stuff and the car filled with pillows, blankets, etc. The excitement of going to my parents filled us all up! We looked forward to visiting St. Augustine Beach, the girls riding horses with my mom, the animals, the Blue Highway Diner that we love, and so much more… All great memories – and that was the hard part, remembering the fun and good times we had as a family. Now things are different, and that is what I come back to. “Kim, be in the present moment,” I tell myself. So, with some deep breathing, putting my hands on my heart, thanking God for those memories, that time and all the lessons and blessings. I decide to move forward and return to packing.
Here’s the thing about doing this trip, I really did not know if I could do it all by myself, but I needed to “Show Up”. That’s what we are called to do in our life – Show Up. We don’t know what will happen, but if we are committed to facing whatever is before us, we find we really are stronger and braver then we think. Aaron and I arrived safe and sound, and had a spectacular vacation! We met so many wonderful people, made friends, and created memories that will be with us through our lives. For me, this was like completing a marathon. I’ve been training for the past couple of years. I have learned to stand on my own two feet, love and trust myself, and open myself up to life. Throughout my life, my Mom would call me “Chicken Little” – not in a mean way – but because I would get scared and didn’t think I could do things on my own. Well, I showed myself I am strong, wise, bold, and enough. I am capable! I am not afraid.
It is really true, you don’t know what you are capable of until you try! So – show up, try, and never give up on yourself!
With Love and Gratitude…