We've spent the last couple of days weaving our way through the mountains of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Everything is vibrant and green this time of year, and New Englanders definitely know how to do summer right - the Main Streets, flowers, and American flags in between postcard mountain views are pretty cool. If, that is, we had time to appreciate the fact that we were crawling along at 25 mph on the slowest going road trip days we've ever had.
Which is the nice way of saying that yesterday, after 360 miles and 6 hours, we were a nice mix of burnt out, frustrated, angry and other nice things like that. (I once read that couples that stay together are the one who camp together, because camping tends to involve learning to survive serious spurts of misery. If camping isn't your thing, might I suggest multi-day road trips with little kids?)
At the end of the day, there were two things that I want to remember.
1. Eat at McDonald's more often. We pulled into one for a quick dinner, and ended up eating in because White River Junction, Vermont apparently turns into a parking lot at 5 p.m. Turned out that there was a family with a 5 year old + 2-year-old triplet boys and another mom with a 2 year old plus 3 month-old-twins there also, all in our little corner. I've never felt so comfortable with my four rowdy kids, and so aware of how much ALL parents of little ones need to feel completely happy with feeding their kids easy, unhealthy food on a semi-regular basis.
2. Shamelessly sit in a desk chair on the front motel sidewalk with my husband more often. Carving out a little chill time apart from the kids is critical, and mid-trip it's either out front with the bikers or perched on the toilet and tub while the four of them slowly fall asleep. Neither one may be classy, but either one works to have hard conversations like - "when you said you were sick of this damn road trip and it was time to put me and the boys on a plane, did you mean it?" I hate how easy it is to get mad at each other, and it's always hard to talk through it. I don't know how people manage it for 50 years, but we did go to bed back on the same page and still friends. (Tonight, the hashing it out happened at the playground, and then we perched on the toilet/tub in peace later. There is no other way to do relationships that one hard day at a time, is there?!)
In between eating junk food with my kids and ranting lovingly with my husband, I will continue to survive on the kind or at least funny words of others too (and try to spread some of my own). The kind words of strangers do not cease to amaze and encourage me along the way - as simple as "you'll make it, and you have a beautiful family" or here, "you go ahead in line". Or my absolute favorite line ever in reaction to the twins from a girl at the playground - "Oh, they're twins? I have a twin in Antarctica." I was left speechless.