Seven days ago, Jonathan and I did something that either makes us adventurous or crazy or both, depending on how you see things:
We loaded our three small children into our not-as-big-as-it-once-seemed SUV, hitched up our 145-square-foot travel trailer, and set off on a six-week cross-country journey.
I’m inclined to say we’re adventurous, and fun-loving, and eager to build relationships and memories as a family. But I suppose I can’t disagree too strongly if you want to call us crazy, too.
That’s up to you.
This may tip the scales more toward the crazy in your book. (Then again, maybe not.)
Pay attention, now. This is important, and it merits far more than a side note in a post on another topic. But, well, writing has (yet again) fallen off of my priority list as of late. I’ve had a lot on my plate, what with simultaneously planning for a long trip, raising and schooling small children, and growing a brand new tiny human.
(Did you catch that last line? If not, go back and read it again.)
When I said we loaded three small children into our SUV, I really should have said we loaded four.
We’re thrilled to announce a new baby Palmer, who will be born sometime in late November or early December.
As we were planning and preparing for this trip, sandwiched in between the excitement and the anticipation, I had my moments of doubt.
What were we getting ourselves into, exactly? Were we biting off more than we could chew? Did I have it in me to be a good mom, a good wife, a good person for weeks on the road?
(Answers: We had – and have – no idea. Yes, almost certainly. No, but I do not have it in me to be those things at home, either.)
You know what helped me overcome those moments, helped me to move forward and anticipate the future with hope and excitement?
The example and encouragement of those who had gone before me.
(And prayer. Lots of prayer.)
I spoke with and learned from friends and family who had taken – and loved – similar trips in the past. I joined online groups for people who traveled with young children, for people who owned travel trailers, for people who towed with SUVs. I sought out the voices that said the joys of experiencing the world in this way more than outweighed the challenges.
And I believed them.
My pregnancy added another dimension of uncertainty to this trip. How would I weather my exhaustion, my nausea, my expanding midsection, from the road?
(Answer: Just as I handle all of life. One day, one hour, or – when necessary – one second at a time.)
But then I talked to a good friend who took a similar trip a few years ago, when she was pregnant with her youngest, and she told me how glad she was to have gone, and how much she was hoping to do it again in the future.
And when we stopped for lunch on our fifth day, we met a couple who are exploring southern Utah in their Jeep with their four-year-old son. They’re off-roading and adventuring and having a ball camping in their rooftop tent. She’s seven months pregnant.
And on our sixth day, we camped next to a family of four who had just started a trip of their own. Their oldest child informed me, quite proudly, that he was going to have a new brother or sister in October.
And in my own mind, the needle between crazy and adventurous shifted back toward the positive.
We are social creatures. We were created to be in community. To learn from each other. To listen to each other’s stories. To draw wisdom and encouragement and hope from each other.
I’ve used a lot of words here to tell you that we’re traveling, to tell you that we’re growing our family. Stay tuned: I hope to continue to share stories and memories along the way (albeit a bit delayed – I’m already a week behind! Blame it on that first-trimester exhaustion.)
More than that, though, I hope to offer encouragement. To affirm that all these things – travel, adventure, memories, family, relationship, new life – are beautiful and good and worth pursuing. To be a voice that says the joys of experiencing this world outweigh the challenges.
We’re taking a long cross-country trip with small children. We’re adding a fourth child to our family.
In some people’s minds, both of these things make us crazy. And perhaps they’re right. I can’t deny that I sometimes wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into.
But on my good days?
On my good days, the word I choose is adventurous.