And Then The Peace Came

Someday, I’ll look back and wonder how I survived these years.

Five kids in 8 years.
Working more than part-time, but less than full-time from home writing.
Cooking more meals a day than I ever imagined possible to eat.
Running errands, making it on time to activities, hosting playdates, and refereeing sibling wrestling matches.

I honestly do no know how it all happens.

I do know that I collapse onto the couch or into my bed each night and understand just how different this stage of adulthood is than I had ever dreamt. While I am exhausted, touched-out, burned-out, and aching with pregnancy pains, my mind reviews the day and the to-do list still to come. The house is quiet, even John is asleep, and I have tiny limbs draped across my expanding belly. I breathe it all in because, even through the craziness, I love this.

I have struggled for months with accepting this last baby, this relocation, and this new way of life out here. I have doubted my abilities, and in turn, I have doubted the foundation that John and I have solidified through 13 years and raising 4 babies alone. This move rocked me hard. We were too far away from an ocean, too far away from friends, too far away from family. I imagined myself drowning without any help.

But then the peace came. It hit me harder than a bag of bricks. We haven’t lived closer than a 10-12 hour drive to our families in years. We have started over in new cities and states many times. And John and I have done a damn good job so far.

The wind was blowing the tree limbs, making them cast dancing shadows throughout the backyard. The kids were running around chasing said shadows, laughing together. John and I sat with wine in hand and discussed the renovations we have planned for this gorgeous home we purchased. Music was playing, and we were happy. It wasn’t hard to realize just how far we have come – and what an amazing future we have. But this moment? This one right here is our time to grow together. We have been raising these babies without regular help. We have supported ourselves. We have figured it out and had a blast along the way.

This calmness and peace that washed over me has made me see where we are in a whole new light. We are together. We are in love. We are lucky.

The friendships will come, a mother’s helper will be found, and many, many road trips will be taken.

Sometimes you need to panic before you realize that you already know how to swim.

Renewing Your Spirit On Vacation With Kids

I was about to lose my mind, landlocked in the Midwest. This move has been quite the struggle for me mentally and emotionally. We have baby #5 due in a matter of weeks (I should jump on some sort of preparation for that, right?) and I’ve been dealing with kids who can’t seem to stay completely healthy since relocating.

I’m pretty sure I hit a wall, and I almost had a breakdown. My amazing husband has also been feeling a bit off since moving out here, and he decided a vacation was in order. He approached me with many inexpensive camping ideas, extremely long road trip destinations, and other random locations that I immediately shutdown due to pregnancy, grouchiness, and four small kids. I flat out said, “FIND ME WATER.”

You see, I grew up in water. Lakes, beaches, whatever. I was waterskiing at the same time I was learning to walk. I had forgotten how connected my soul is to the movement of water. I feel as though I had let that part of myself go without even realizing it. My husband grew up on the beach, but not in the same way that I did. Barefooting, skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and living every weekend on a boat effects the mind, body, and soul. I had forgotten all of this.
The moment I begged for a water vacation was the moment my soul realized how disconnected it was from my heart. I left the details up to John and just said, “PLEASE. I need this.”

He did not disappoint.

John reserved a bungalow just large enough for our family of 6. He made sure it had a refrigerator, stove, and bbq grill so we could save money by providing our own food. He also upgraded us to the lake view. (This man LOVES me and knew how much I needed this.) The front door opened to the lake. It was breathtaking.

The Tan-Tar-A Resort in Ozark, Missouri provided us with waterslides, indoor activities for foul weather, Fourth of July events, boat rental, the greatest fireworks display imaginable – from our patio, and delicious food options if we wanted them.

The trip was at the tips of my fingers for weeks. I was counting the days and showing the kids our resort online. We got excited together. We prepared the necessities for the long drive:
• DVD players
• Road snacks (pre-bagged per kid)
• Car activities
• Road map

I couldn’t sleep for 2 days before we left; I even called to see if we could start our trip early! Of course, the resort was booked solid, but it just made the anticipation build more.

We arrived with my heart pounding, and walked down to the bungalow with my jaw on the sidewalk. I jumped into John’s arms and just said, “Thank You.”

I am telling you, you need to do this. You need to take a vacation THAT IS ABOUT YOU. As a mother, or not even a mother – as someone entering mid-30’s who has let go of their childhood and lost themselves in life, the reconnection is eye-opening. I truly saw childhood memories flash before my eyes that I had forgotten about for decades. This vacation allowed my husband to see a side of me that he didn’t even know existed. My children saw me – ME – not their mother. They also discovered a portion of their souls that they didn’t know needed awakening. They felt more alive because I felt more alive. They were freer because I was freer.

It only took a few months of extra savings, 6.5 hours in the car, and 3 nights without thinking about work or life or anything outside of reconnecting to my own soul in the presence of my family, and I can genuinely tell you that I am better. I am happier, healthier, and stronger because I remember who I am.

Taking a vacation that is about YOU may also open your eyes to what you are missing in your day to day life. There is no possibility to spend my weekends on a gorgeous lake water skiing and tubing with the kids right now. We are living in an area in which that would only be possible about 3 months a year, but besides that, a ski boat is not in our budget at the moment. However… It is not too far from reach. If we reevaluate our budget, it may be a possibility within a few years. The location aspect though, that needs some work. I’ll tell you this though, I’ll be researching lakes and ski boats as frequently as I am on Zillow now.

Oh, and we are reserving the same bungalow for an entire week next summer – with a boat for at least 2 of those days. I will start saving now. My soul needs it.

 And So Does Yours.