I drove for 2 days in a blizzard to be with my husband for Valentines Day. Not just any blizzard, but the worst one on the East Coast in over a century. With me, I had a very scared, very loud cat and a very squirmy, energetic puppy. I spent the night in a fleabag motel when whiteout conditions would let me go no further. To top it off, my ipod died barely an hour into the journey. (In case you’re wondering, this is why there was no blog yesterday – no internet in the flea bag motel). I began to think about the things we do for love and it reminded me of another road trip in the not so distant past.
Last summer, I made a 24-hour trek from Nebraska to North Carolina with my sister, my dog, and my two nephews ages 3 and 1. In case you’re curious, this involved not only the normal amount four people’s luggage for a month, but dog food, car-seats, diaper bags, strollers, and high-chairs, most of which had to be strapped to the top of my car with bungee cables and old rope found in my parents garage. We set out with our Cheezits, juice, “Bob the Builder” DVD, and a little bit of legroom.
The first half of the trip, we thought it might be a good idea to drive through the night so the boys would sleep. This plan turned out to be a horrible disaster as the boys couldn’t get comfortable in their car-seats enough to sleep soundly and as a result, were up most of the night crying and up all the next day cranky. My sister moved back and forth from the front seat to the back seat trying to appease everyone’s hunger, boredom, and general crabbiness.
Between the 2 hour bottle feedings and potty stops (both animal and human) and listening to the Chipmunks sing the Macarena fifty million times, we made it to the east coast – which brought us a whole new set of issues. A West Virginia State Patrolman pulled us over and screamed at me for several minutes for talking on my cell phone. When I calmly asked him if cell phone usage while driving was illegal in the state of West Virginia, I literally saw his face turn scarlet red and steam shoot out his ears as he yelled, “No it is NOT illegal, but I can still give you a ticket for being difficult!” Well, I didn’t get a “being difficult” ticket and he let me go with only a verbal warning and a boost to his masculine, power hungry ego.
After an accident in Winston-Salem forced us to take an alternate route (which subsequently led to us being hopelessly lost for about 2 hours) and pulled over for a second time, (by a 12 year old officer on his first day at work who said I had poor lane control) we finally made it home. Although it was late that night, we arrived home to an immaculately clean house and prepared hot supper thanks to my husband.
The boys explored the new house with a sense of wonder and excitement that only children possess. All their un-used energy for the past two days was suddenly released as they ran through the new environment, delighted by every new experience. Each room, piece of furniture, and table knick-knack was a new mystery for them to discover.
Ethan found his new thrill when I allowed him to jump on my bed. The excitement was nearly too much for his little body to handle as he struggled to climb the monstrous bed frame and began to vigorously jump, squealing with uncontrolled glee. I watched him, amused as he tried to jump higher and higher, laughing and wired with joy. “I’m so happy, Wisabiff!!!” he yelped with delight, “Ethan’s happy!!!”
At that moment, my heart soared as high as Ethan jumped. I didn’t care about the excruciatingly long trip, or being pulled over, or the smashed cheerios now permanently embedded into my car seats and floor. All I cared about was hugging Ethan as hard as I could. I would have given him a pony, an airplane, or let him jump on my bed until every spring was destroyed if it would make him that happy again. I nearly burst open with love as I said, “I’m happy too, Ethan.” I hope he feels that kind of joy again and again in his life because every moment of his joy will surely bring countless more moments of mine.