You have to work to keep up with the wonder of a child. When you grow up, things that used to fascinate you become usual, normal. It’s unfortunate. Air travel, flying, used to captivate me. Airports were my favorite places on earth. People going and coming, from everywhere, to anywhere. You could look up at a plane flying high above and wish to be on it. It held the same allure as the train whistle once did. And, if one were lucky to be on it, particularly an overseas flight, you had an array of movies to choose from (smaller section back then), or a bag of books to read.
Then, you fly a lot. Travel gets tiring. It looses a bit of its luster. So you need to watch kids respond to their first time in flight. It brings you back.
Our first flight as a family was not overseas, but cross country. So we got in several hours of flying time. Our boys were 6, 4, and 1. Our one year old Ethan doesn’t remember much. Our oldest Jack does. He had movies. He was given a window seat. We connected in Salt Lake City, so mountains scattered the vista everywhere. He loved it. So did we, right there with him.
Children, literally, see differently. They see the wonder and tapestry of God’s world. Going in an airplane! To fly! It has become humdrum to many adults. If you read CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, that is the biggest trap thrown to humans. Get humans caught up in the humdrum, and they won’t see the beauty of the present. As CS Lewis has said, “God wants a child’s heart and a grownup’s head.” Children can get us out of the humdrum, if we allow ourselves. Our daily lives, daily routines in parenting, can be opportunities to see differently and awaken ourselves to the joys of God’s world.
You can’t wait for everything to be picture perfect to make family memories. This picture symbolizes my life stage at that time. I was struggling to put myself together. But I made sure my kids were in matching handknit sweaters! How many young moms make the same mistake of ignoring self care to create a vision of perfection? So many of our dreams are on hold until we can edit out or create an Instagram filter that makes us look good.
We headed to Lake Tahoe for family skiing. Can a 1 year old ski? No, but he was a cute snow bunny. I was determined to show my husband that children are great travel companions. I was determined to show children’s senses are indelibly heightened when they leave their bubble at a young age, even for a short trip, and those memories stay with them into adulthood. Sights, tastes, smells, sounds, and touches that are foreign sear into a child’s memory.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart – at any age. Was the trip hard on me as a young mother? Yes. Did our family remember this trip as a milestone. Yes (except the 1 year old)! Did this trip change our every day lives when we returned home to Mississippi? Yes. The humdrum changes after your senses are heightened and there is a place of comparison. Did we start to travel more as a family? Yes! Of all the children, my middle child adapted the best. The child with autism, a language disorder, and anxiety loves to travel. Our greatest fears sometimes need to be faced. 6 years ago, I was determined to find a way to travel, even with a special needs child. Today, we are preparing to cross the Atlantic to relocate our whole family for an indefinite season.
In all the busyness and fatigue of parenting, our family has found great joy in seeing differently together. Unbeknownst to me, our family trips were preparing us slowly for a bigger move in 2020. In our circles, we say the Lord is ahead of you. The comfort of that premise is you are free to enjoy today. Worry and anxiety bring nothing to parenting. Nothing! Our children desire us to join their little adventures in their hearts. As adults, we might just capture the same spirit and act with great courage.
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