Can your child cause you to miss opportunities? Some people think so. For instance, this last week Gracelyn, Bruce, and I began a drive to Florida to visit family and have some vacation time. Travels began smoothly with daddy as chauffeur while Gracelyn and I played, sang, and interacted in the back seat. About an hour into the drive, Gracelyn began to cry and nothing we did while still moving toward our destination would comfort her. We stopped at a gas station where we nursed and pottied and she got back to her normally cheery demeanor. Forgetting that plopping her back into the car seat without “rocking” her in it first, however, meant we needed to stop another 10 minutes further down the road and rock her to sleep.
This pattern continued — mostly having fun and happily driving, followed by spurts of being inconsolable that stopped us in our travels. After traveling just under 200 miles in six hours, we three sat on a grassy area behind another gas station playing, laughing, and having fun. We talked about our options (keep going, stop temporarily, head home); what we wanted (to have an enjoyable time and be connected as a family); and what was important to us (honoring each other, not adding stress to our lives, making the best of the situation). Thus, we decided that instead of going to Florida, we would return home.
So we did miss out on seeing family, visiting the ocean, and getting some Florida sun. We felt disappointed and sad both for these losses and for the discomfort Gracelyn was experiencing. But what we didn’t believe was that somehow we had “missed” an opportunity. We had merely substituted one choice (Florida trip) for another (staycation in Asheville). This could have as easily happened without a child (e.g., missed/cancelled plane trip, car accident, illness), yet somehow many times people (a) push on through when only their own welfare is concerned, (b) think that kids are “to blame,” or (c) forget that they’re not in charge of life, no matter how much planning or preparation they do.
The moral of the story is…
We (adults, parents, those who have come “prepared”) are not in charge. Life throws us circumstances we didn’t anticipate or don’t appreciate. We can push on, obstinately demanding that life accommodate us. Or we can breathe, pause, and ask ourselves what’s most important and how we can work with the situation at hand. For us, as we contemplated driving over 700 miles (one way) with a daughter in intermittent teething pain and discomfort at being cooped up for such long stretches of time, the answer was obvious — readjust our vision and have fun traveling back home and being home for a staycation.