We just spent two weeks on the road in our RV which measures 24.5 feet in length. It does not have any of those fancy pop out sides either. To say it was a small space for four people to exist in for that amount of time is an understatement. But we did it with what I would consider a great deal of success.
We travel more than the average family. Mostly, to see the folks we left behind when we made the big move years ago to California. This time however we were setting out to see two states we had never seen before and experience brand new sight for all of us. One of my most favorite parts of road tripping is what we stand to learn about ourselves along the way. Untethered from our comforts outside of routines there is much to be discovered. And once again the boys showed up with a giant mirror for me to look into to move me ever closer to the mother I strive to be.
It can be easy to expect our children to be grateful for experiences that are created for them. To think that they should be thankful that we are providing this road trip for them. But let’s take a quick reality check. Sure the boys were involved in the deciding of what they would like to see and do along the way. But they were not the ones who booked three weeks off from work in order to take the family on an RV trip. So, it is good for me to remember that when things get not so fun not everyone signed up 100 percent for this crazy adventure. That holding on to “this wasn’t my idea” can give the illusion of control when things get challenging. And when things go sideways and this “trip feels like the worst idea” slips out, it isn’t a sign of disrespect for all the wonderful things that are also unfolding. Or that when someone has not had personal space for days and yells about the lack of internet creating “the worst night ever,” they aren’t also elated at having stood in front of the grand canyon for a hilarious family photo.
It can be easy for me to jump on any negativity when we are traveling as if it is the thing that my child is feeling the most because they are expressing that over the happy grateful thoughts that I would much rather hear. But the truth of the matter is, how many of us walk around asking for help when we are feeling at our best. When our needs are all met and the world around us is a safe beautiful place. It’s when the world gets all wobbly and confusing that folks reach out to others to lift them up a little. For my children that comes in short phrases and emotional outbursts that release the tension in their own bodies and alert me to the fact that they might need a little extra love.
I will admit to being somewhat shitty at responding right away with the right words of encouragement. Or being able to even hear what is really being asked for and launching in to lecture mommy mode. This trip reminded me though that I do have the ability to flip things around when my child is lashing out. Whether it is in words or actions I can turn it around by seeing what their behavior is altering me to instead of reacting from a knee jerk place to the words being tossed about. Because the truth of the matter is my children are grateful for the life they have. They enjoy what is provided for them. And they are human beings who have ups and downs in their emotional worlds just like I do, maybe even more so being that they are constantly transitioning from one stage of growing up to another. and have less experience with managing the big feelings that come when one is existing outside of their comfort zone.
So as we settle back in to what feels like a mansion, I hope this one lesson from the road will carry me through many more “I am bored. This place sucks. Can we move already,” to meet my child each time with a compassionate heart and an extra serving of love. Cause that’s what’s bound to make this world a more peaceful place for us all.