I took my 5 children, by myself, home to Alabama for a 3 week vacation. No, I’m not insane or, at least, that’s what I tell myself. 16 hours in a van with 5 kids, over two days…. it was a win.
We started our adventure at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Waking up children is never advised but it is especially dramatic if it’s before the sun rises. With 5 grumpy and awake children, 4 backpacks, one mommy bag , one cooler of iced coffee and a backpack full of snacks we embarked on the rainy road toward Alabama. The first few hours were full of excitement and talking about what we were going to do when we got there. All was well till we stopped for lunch. I filled up the tank for a second time and was fixing pb and honey when my eldest son, Elijah, told me his knee was really hurting. I looked him over and realized he had several swollen bites that were inflamed and painful. I did what every good mom would do, called my mom and husband and took a million pictures of the spots. Both said he would be alright but to keep an eye on the swelling.
My mother and her fiancee Robert got me a hotel ahead of my departure so that I could break up the 16 hr drive. We were coming into Little Rock, AR, where we were to stay the night, when we decided to stop for dinner. We stopped at Cracker Barrel, my least favorite restaurant, and Elijah couldn’t walk from the pain in his knee. As I stood there, baby on my hip and a toddler in the stoller, with very hungry children I look up to see a God sent. Next to the Cracker Barrel sign was a Baptist Emergency Care sign. A hospital was literally down the road from were we had pulled over for dinner. So, I piled all the kids back into the car, with much protest and many tears, and we headed to the emergency room. The hospital staff was very speedy and kind as we waited to get Elijah some relief. To my astonishment he had staph in his bug bites. They gave us an antibiotic prescription and said he should be fine as we had caught it early. Let me tell you that having a prescription filled out of town while on tricare is quite the adventure. That being said, Krogers went above the call of duty by taking my script 5 mins before closing and grabbing bandages and antibacterial cream for me to purchase through the drive through window. All the medicine received and Moe’s is our bellies we headed to our hotel.
Why are hotels so exciting to children? I just do not get what’s so great about sleeping in a random room with papery sheets and germ ladder carpet. My kids love it. I’d love to say we got a great nights sleep and I was well rested come morning to finish off the last 7 hrs of driving but I’m not a liar. After a restless evening we still got on the road at 6 a.m. and were ready to concur the day. Let me tell you, the novelty of a road trip had waned tremendously. At one point the rule was no more “when will we be in Alabama” or any form of the question unless you wanted mommy to hang you out the window by your toes. The boys found that exceedingly interesting and my empty sarcastic threat became a challenge to test my sanity. I have never been so elated to see a state sign as I was when we rolled into Alabama. 3 p.m. and ready to stretch our legs we drove into my home state. Glory, it was pure glory.
I had taken my 5 children over 1000 miles with one emergency room trip and I say it was a win. They amazed me with their wonder and genuine conversation. I got 16 hrs to listen, to really listen, about how things make them feel and what they think about everyday things. In those moments I became a better mother, they made me a better person because I could see through child like eyes. What an amazing place the world is when you think like a child. Our time in Alabama is coming to an end and I’m excited to learn something new about them on our trip back to Kansas. Maybe I’ll get a glimpse into their tiny minds and big hearts. I can only hope.
The soul is healed by being with children.