“Do you want to stay or leave?”
It’s a question with no right answer, but it comes up often in our marriage.
Several weeks ago, my husband and I decided to make our last overnight stop a short stay in Mississippi with his family. But our daughter’s diagnosis of hand, foot, and mouth in Colorado changed everything.
We desperately needed a day outside of the car.
But, if we stayed longer than originally planned, could we drive from Mississippi to Georgia in one day in time to make our kids’ preschool open house at 7 p.m. the next day?
This would be the challenge on the final leg of our journey.
Frankly, none of us wanted to be in the Subaru anymore – especially not for the 10 hours it would take to travel home. It’s a drive we’ve made numerous times, but traffic, construction, and accident delays are inevitable and unpredictable.
But when we added another day onto our trip at the last minute, we accepted the risk. And, thankfully, our daughter took full advantage and slept 15 hours over the course of Day 12 in Mississippi.
To offer you a glimpse into our car on Day 13, the following could be spotted in our backseat:
- Milk chocolate smeared on a car seat.
- Sand and dirt speckled on the floormats and car doors.
- Stuffed animals, doodle pads, books, and small bags of Goldfish stacked at least one foot deep.
- Two restless kids – brother scowling at sister for waking him up from his nap; sister desperately trying to (1) get Mom and Dad’s attention and (2) steal brother’s plush critters.
And what of the hand, foot, and mouth on the long return home? Well, our daughter – infrequently writhing in pain from her mouth lesions – had only willingly eaten two things over the last couple of days.
So I did what any sane mother would do. Give the girl what she’ll eat. In her case: one McDonald’s cheeseburger and Fruitful O’s (the organic fruit loops that make you feel like less of a bad parent).
Make no mistake, the final day wasn’t pretty, quiet, or clean.
Thanks to my husband’s selective speeding – we made it to the open house by 7:10 p.m.
As a mother’s luck would have it, I didn’t get the times right. We missed meeting our son’s new teachers.
But if there’s one thing this crazy road trip adventure has taught me it’s that you don’t have to rush through your life. People and places may not always wait, but most often they stand ready to be experienced.
At the end of this grand adventure, I’m grateful that the ones I love most – I still get to take with me.
And what a joy to be late together.
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