This past weekend my husband, daughter, son, mom (Nana) and I went on a perfect little getaway to Atlanta, GA. Surprisingly, it all went off without a hitch in part because of modern technology and my own learned flexibility. Otherwise, the many hours in the car over a 24 hour period could have been disastrous. Though my son said “mommy, mom, mama, “eeee” (eat), “zazong” (cars), “sssshs” (shoes), interchangeably the whole drive there and back; he did not cry or fuss because we had modern day road trip accouterments.
What to pack for a road trip with small children:
- DVD player (if not attached to ceiling of the minivan you swore you’d never buy)
- DVDs (that your child may steadily watch until specifically asking for quiet)
- Kindle fire (until your child somehow reboots it to system settings)
- iPad (to catch up on emails, read blogs and kill time on Facebook)
- iPhone (with kid apps to keep toddler from trying to get out of seat)
- Doritos and M&Ms (for additional support)
However, in the midst all of these distractions, we still heard “are we there yet?” repeatedly from my daughter; she was very excited to meet some American Girls.
We made it to American Girl store and what an experience it was; without a Nana in tow, the trip could have been entirely different. But, a Nana we had and my girl was a kid in a candy shop and admittedly my mom and I were too. All the hype against American Girl may have its merit but I believe these dolls have a positive effect on young girls and I’m thankful that less expensive stores such as Target offer a similar item, because all girls need a doll that is a positive influence. I would spend our wad on American Girl dolls any day over the dreaded Monster High doll that my daughter desperately wants because, to her, it denotes being a “big girl.”
We enjoyed an afternoon of capitalistic delights and while I pride myself on teaching my kids to appreciate the value of money and the things we have, it was fun seeing my daughter’s merriment at the doll store. We had a great time at the aquarium the next day and relaxed into the serene world of sea life among the droves of people.
Now, let us travel back 5 ½ years to my daughter’s first year of life. My husband and I planned for her to have only non-electronic toys, preferably made from sustainable wood and non-toxic paint. We wanted to keep toys to a minimum and not overload her with “typical” girl toys. I wanted her to be well-rounded (and still do, of course) and did not want to promote stereotypes. I swore she would not have a Barbie at least until she was 8 if she had one at all. I swore that my daughter would forever eat organic, local foods. That her “candy” would be fruit and I would keep refined sugar to an absolute minimum. Television was on a very strict schedule and was only Baby Einstein because I specifically steered clear of Elmo or Barney. Attendance of any highly trafficked public place was always accompanied with at least two packets of Wet Ones along with antibacterial gel rubbed at regular intervals.
Then came my second child and I was no longer able to live up to my strict standards of parenting with my first. In many ways, this was beautiful because it taught me how to relax and I think he is a more relaxed kid because of it. He has had ice cream and cookies and consumed them about one year earlier than my daughter. He is not hosed with antibacterial gels quite so often and does get to watch Elmo. While my gut instincts about diet, television, toys and germs still linger within me, I now understand that moderation is important, keeping with the times has value, flexibility leads to a more healthy and happy family than strict adherence to rules. This road trip of ours was a true highlight to how much I have changed and grown as a mother over the course of parenting from ideas during pregnancy to the first year and on into parenting two children and I think we all had a more fun weekend trip as a family because of those adaptations.
Like many mothers, I have always wanted to be the perfect mom. I envy the moms who are crafty and have endless patience. But I am learning through the evolution of motherhood that my definition of “perfect” changes regularly, and has changed drastically over the years. I will not ever meet the level of perfection I hold, but am realizing that the critics are my children and so far, based on the awesome little humans they are, I am doing pretty well.
Who knew a total of 10 hours in a minivan could teach so many lessons? I wonder what lessons lay three weeks ahead on our full day flight to Montana, 2,300 miles away, then back again?