My hand is a little numb. I always get like that after an extended period of driving because I am most comfortable holding the wheel firmly in my right hand and letting my left hand gently rest on the bottom of the wheel as its guide. We're two thirds of the way home now and I've spent a lot of hours behind that wheel. We decided to take three days to get home rather than making two long days of it, in large part because the past two weeks have been so socially intense for the kids that I thought that they might need a little bit of time to wind down and get used to being a family again. They're (we're) all a little testy with each other and getting used to each other all over again. So we spent last night and are spending this night in hotels with pools and the kids and I are all having a great time in the water.
I wouldn't change a thing about the past two weeks away. Really. The last two weeks have been about as close to perfection as one gets when traveling with three small children and living out of laundry baskets of clothes. The kids and I have all had such a great time...being with old friends, building and deepening the bonds with new friends. We've been hosted by two incredible women and their families and have been made to feel right at home in their midst. And the playtime for the kids, and the visiting time for me has been like mana for the soul. I'm not used to staying up so late to talk any more but again, I still wouldn't change a second of it.
This morning while I was packing up the van and the kids yet again, ready to leave our hotel for leg two of our three-leg journey home, an older gentleman employed by the hotel approached me. He offered to help me load everything into the van, but I laughed and said that, though I was appreciative of his offer, I had a system of packing that couldn't be messed with. He then said that he had watched me with the kids yesterday and this morning as we meandered around the hotel, the pool, the breakfast area, and the loading zone, and he said that he was very impressed with how I seemed to manage everything; he said that he didn't often see anyone taking on the task of traveling by themselves with three young kids quite so well or graciously, and that he tipped his hat to me! Well!! Didn't I just preen like one of those peacocks we saw at the zoo last week. I stood a little straighter and I'm sure I blushed, so grateful was I for both the compliment and for the acknowledgement that it is hard traveling like this. I think I smiled for the first 100 kilometres, just thinking of his compliment.
Tonight, over a brought-in pizza supper in our hotel room, I asked the kids how the trip has gone from their perspective and each of them gave our trip two thumbs up and an enthusiastically "awesome" review. I may have happened to mention that a number of people have thought that I was a bit crazy for taking three kids on a driving trip (I was still preening and looking for more compliments). Throwing his hands up in the air, palms up in the age-old 'why' gesture, Seth responded incredulously by saying, "why you crazy?? It's easy. We're great. What's up with that? That's weird." My dare-I-say significant efforts were dismissed by that one comment. They totally take me/things for granted!
But I laughed with them then and still laugh about it now - after all, if you're a kid, you shouldn't have to think about how hard/easy it is for your parents to take care of you. Thank goodness Seth and Lizzie don't have to worry any more...they just know, somehow, deep down now I think, that their lives have changed, and in a good way, and that they will be taken care of. That's the thing that's truly awesome!!