A little more than three months ago, the family packed up and headed out of town for a spontaneous beach weekend. See No Carb Left Behind and No Thing Left Behind for the whimsical touch and feel of that trip.

Today we travel in the same vehicle with the same children, but alas, we seem a quart low on the whimsy. Would that there were a dipstick for whimsy… We could measure how low we are, and top off at the closest Pick Quick.

As any parent of children of any age knows, however, we don’t have the technology for that kind of roadside assistance yet. The noblest of efforts to execute 800 miles with four children in one day simply invites the macabre. It is a good thing indeed The Husband appreciates gallows humor.  Even Jack Skellington would find the vehicle version of Time Out humorous. The child invited to reflect upon his/her choices must sit silently with their eyes closed for 15 minutes. No iPod, no movie, and no snack bag. Repeat offenders have to facilitate a road trip game, but that really punishes all for the offense of the one.  Since breakfast there has been mental combat over such world pressing issues like the cereal box, how one asked another to borrow a book, who got to fill up his/her water glass first, how to share a bag of Cheetos, and who got to open the foil package of Pop-Tarts. We still have 200 miles to go, and I am sorely tempted to violate the open container laws of Georgia.

On this particular trip, we travel to Florida to celebrate Thanksgiving and attend a family wedding. We will stay in three different family homes over our eight night stay and drive a total of over 2,500 miles. This reality adds to the already sharp edge of tired children who live an over-scheduled mix of academics, athletics, social, and church activities.  Our resources are tissue paper thin parentally as well. The Husband travelled last week, including the weekend, and I participated in a certification conference.

I miss the beach.  I miss that suspended free fall joy that comes outside of an agenda. I miss the sunshine pace and rolling waves and how no one wore a watch.  I guarantee you that Nana has had her nose pressed against the glass already, and we are still three hours out.  I want to hear a conflict about how much sand is in the bed, or that The Middle Girl’s face hurts from smiling so much, instead of her present condition of lips that are so chapped they bleed. I miss the lingering expectation of discovery and fun.

I haven’t yelled at anyone today, and know we’ve all done our best, but I wish I had mustered more of The Beach Mom persona for the kids today, rather than the somewhat crispy and frazzled mom that barely got us packed and on the road. I believe I am central to the creation of the tone of our adventures, and it’s time for me to shift my behaviors and choose to splash some unexpected fun on the scene. Maybe we can do backward dinner and start with ice cream sundaes. Maybe we can do parking lot yoga. Maybe I can shine light into the corners of this dark truck until they feel the love here and anticipate it in the home we will arrive at tonight.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!