Most of the traveling I’ve done with my kids has been on a plane, though that’s starting to change a bit now that there are three tiny people and all of their tiny travel “essentials.” (I use quotes around essentials for the 5 year old who believes that she needs to bring at least 42 stuffed animals to sleep with no matter where we go, a belief I fear is rapidly spreading to the 2 year old.) After a monsoon-season trip to Japan last year, we decided this year we’d take a less intense vacation rather than a trip. We struggled to figure out what we wanted to do, and ultimately decided we’d make our Spring trip to Disney World longer, so we had more of a chance to relax at the pools, and then spend a week in OBX with family friends. And then, with those destinations in mind, we made the biggest decision: We. Would. Drive.
We had steadily been increasing car sizes with each child: from a Mazda 3, to a Mazda CX-7 (it doesn’t even exist anymore), to a Mazda CX-9. So that’s where we were. A CX-9 and three children still in car seats. It wasn’t going to be so bad–except I seemed to be the only one who could figure out how to buckle in the big kid in the middle. And when I shut a back door, all the seats slightly shifted to the other side and then slightly shifted back upon shutting the other door. Oh, and the big one has always gotten car sick and asked if we’re there yet even before our driveway has faded from the rearview mirror.
The day to leave for Disney was inching its way towards us. We’ve made triannual trips to the magical place for five years. There was nothing to be nervous about. Right? Oh yeah, the drive. But what was the alternative? Then we figured it out. Comfort. We needed to make the drive part of the vacation. But how do you do that when the little people can barely lift an elbow without hitting one another? So Saturday night my husband and I had “the talk.” You know the one. Where you decide to trade in your SUV for a minivan? Where you leave behind yet another part of your Brooklyn Cool for Suburban Quaint. I mean, my husband wouldn’t even allow the term “minivan” in our household. Until that moment. It felt like a forbidden confession. We both knew we needed one but were afraid to say it. Honestly we went to the only dealer open and got one of the only two minivans they had available. The next day.
The kids were in love. They had space. They had movies. They had sliding doors they could get in and out of on their own (of significant importance to the 2 year old who thinks he can do pretty much anything on his own). The 5 year old didn’t have tummy aches anymore. The car seats didn’t shift when the doors shut. I had some moments of quiet (remember, they had movies). I finally got it.
I didn’t even need to defend myself when people I knew, other moms, family friends teased me about the decision. But that’s just the way travel goes. People question your decisions to fly 14 hours around the world with two kids while five months pregnant. They question your sanity. Stare at you with pity and anger, occasionally at the same time. Are shocked that you take trips for fun. Rarely do people root for you or get excited on your behalf. They only see and react to the chaos, real or perceived. But these people also rarely understand the depths of memories and moments you’ve made in the chaos and because of the chaos. They don’t see the creation of little people filled with wanderlust, destined to look beyond themselves. Those people don’t know what it’s like to see the world not just through your eyes, but through your children’s eyes too.
Forget about those other people. Go get your minivan. Pile your children in. And let your children show you their world.