Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Trouble with Packing

The Trouble With Packing:
I used to think I was a really really good packer. Like for road trips. 15 minutes tops and I didn't forget a thing. But then I had children. The trouble with packing now is that, well, there is just a lot of trouble for packing. For instance: I used to only pack clean clothes. But if I wait now until clothes I need to pack were washed and dried it would be fifteen minutes before departure. So now I pack clean clothes for the kids the day before and then I make them wear the 'ugly' clothes for the last day we're home.
      Don't pretend you don't know what the 'ugly' clothes are. The shorts that you can't quite tell if it's for a boy or a girl or a t.shirt with some sort of creature on it looking weird. Like a reindeer. Anyway. Their clothes are packed - allowing them to drip ketchup over whatever they want on the last day. But forget about trying to pack things like toys or books for distraction in the trip. The second I complete placing all these little amusements in a bag- Joey has come around the corner to ask me where his tiny toy dinasaur is - and insist that he needs it immediately. As in- he'll either die or throw himself on the floor like he is going to die- kind of immediately.
          I try to pack food too. Special food- the kind only for road trips. But unfortunately Guy spotted the exciting Teddy Grahams last night and we ended up using them to bribe the boys to sit still for hair cuts instead of the treat on the trip. I thought I could use my oldest to help me and asked him to pack a bag. Now I have backpack filled with blocks, rocks, two sticks, a tape measure, a bear, a football, a spoon and two mismatched shoes that he is requesting that I drive across the country with.
           When I first met husband Joe we were able to fit all that we wanted and needed to live with  in a car. Then we expanded to an RV. Then to a home and a van. Now I am confused. I think I am packing to go to Connecticut for vacation and then look at the pile of stuff to go in the van and wonder if I am subconsiously moving there. Or to another planet. 
        I have to remind myself. They have diapers in Connecticut. My parents have a washing machine. I'm pretty sure if we run out of juice boxes, they might be in stock at least someplace in Ohio. I can travel without much. I just need to have a map. And at least one diaper. And a few snacks. And some caffiene. And my children. I should probably bring my children.

I just got back from a massive haul across the country with the kiddos. I thought of those who traveled west in covered wagons back in the day...They traveled for months and months, worried about death, weather, strangers, and feeding children on the way. Even though they traveled in caravans the isolation was incredible. When our radio went static in mid-Ohio I almost collapsed.  So- in comparison we did just fine.
           I like to compare myself to the ridiculous then I always end up “just fine.” For example I just traveled to Connecticut. I did not have to birth children in the wilderness somewhere in Illinois while on a trek across the country like those pioneers. Or another example:  Am I tired? Yes. But have I been up all night taking care of an infant and now have to run an air traffic control booth? No. I can sit on the couch and watch my children search for leftover cheerios for breakfast. I’m doing just fine. Are my children always dressed cute, matching and perfectly? No. But they’re not naked. We’re doing just fine.
             All this to say that we made it to Connecticut- and had the best vacation ever. And we made it back. There is nothing quite like going back to a childhood home. My family just enjoyed every single second with the kids and the kids enjoyed every second right back. It made my heart ache just a tiny bit that Minnesota and Connecticut are not neighbors, or that my sister and I are not neighbors… which I guess is what I am really saying. If we were neighbors I could run across the street and borrow eggs, or shoes, or sanity.
           We were there two weeks and then Husband Joe flew in for a cousin’s fantastic wedding and then drove home with us the next day. We left at 10.30 pm and drove straight through the night and 8 hours of the northern tip of hurricane Irene.  And by “we” I mean Joe.  I alternated between a complete collapse in sleep and frantic praying our car wouldn’t be swept away.
        But we are now in Minnesota home. Which I love. I love our friends and our life out here in the Midwest… but.. Our apartment seems to have gotten smaller – (which I swear happened) or the kids have gotten bigger (which Joe swears actually did happen). I miss Grammie and Papa and the rest of my family. I miss all the extra hands to help and hearts to love. But let’s not get ridiculous. It’s just 1300 miles. It’s not Russia. It’s not the moon. We’re doing just fine.

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