My family recently drove from Fort Worth, TX to North Dakota. Like, almost to Canada, North Dakota. I’m not going to lie, on the way TO our destination, I rocked. We were ready to go early. We had nutritious snacks and beverages waiting for us in the car. We read stories and played games. It was awesome.
The trouble with driving TO a destination is that you have to drive BACK from said destination. It was a slow fade as the miles crept by, but by Oklahoma the healthy snack preparing, fun game engaging, enthusiastic mom was dead to me. Dead and buried.
What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, you ask? Was it the three over-tired, cabin-fevered little boys in my midst? Partly. Was it the fact that the walls and the floor of our SUV were literally closing in on me because of our overly generous relatives? A little.
Perhaps, it was the time in Kansas or Nebraska or wherever when I had my husband dump the three boys and I off at a McDonald’s while he gassed up the car. I hurried into the large stall with the three boys to take care of my monthly business. For the record, there is no dumber time to be on your period than when traveling 1300 miles with three young boys. Mid-monthly business managing, the Tot began to crawl under the door of the stall. I quickly motioned for the big boys to get him, thinking they would drag him back in by his feet. But, no. The boys flung the door open for the world to see and bolted after him, out the door into the McDonald’s.
Or, maybe, it was after we powered through another 300 miles, piled everyone into a hotel at 10:30, and attempted to get the Tot to sleep. After an hour and a half of being kicked in the face and retrieving countless sips of water, I finally lied to the baby and told him the hotel was fresh out of water. The remainder of the night was spent with the baby’s face ON my face as he slept.
No, the straw that finally broke my back was the floor of our car. You know how I told you it was closing in? It literally was. When we were in North Dakota, a farmer friend asked if we wanted a couple of bags of potatoes. Sure, we said, not knowing they were 50 pound bags. Funny thing about potatoes, they can’t freeze. Speaking of dumber. Is there any dumber place to grow a crop that cannot freeze than North Dakota? When we left, the wind chill was -50. Needless to say, the potatoes froze. The potatoes then spent the next 24 hours thawing and creating a black ooze that infiltrated the floorboard of our back seat. It was round about Oklahoma that we had to huck the sacred Red River Valley potatoes in a dumpster (and hope we weren’t captured on surveillance cameras).
After that, any recollection of my former self was gone. She was replaced with a stranger that told my children Sure, get some Jolly Ranchers. Get a tube of Pringles, too. I don’t care as long as it will buy me at least fifteen minutes of silence when we return to the car.
The sweet, accommodating mom from the first leg of the journey morphed into a Hulkulean (Not Hurculean. I mean I turned green and ripped my shirt) figure that bellowed Put your seat belts on RIGHT NOW! But, my head hurts, I can’t put it on. Yeah, well, your head is really going to hurt when we get in a car accident and you fly out of the window and die! How many times do I have to tell you to put on your seatbelt? Is it a surprise to you that every time we get in the car, I’m going to make you put it on? How many stinking times have we been in and out of this dad gum car in the past twenty four hours? Put your seatbelt on!!!
After passing the “Welcome to Texas” sign, I eased up a little.
But. Then, we finally made it to Fort Worth and north Fort Worth traffic. Oh, I forgot it’s the dad gum 1:46 in the afternoon traffic.
As with most agonizing situations, it came to an end. We arrived safely home. We were suddenly free of the jail cell disguised as a Honda Pilot. We unpacked, the boys were liberated in the neighborhood with their new scooters, and the drive suddenly didn’t seem so bad. My coloring faded to a pale green.
Soon enough, we will embark on the same journey, with the same optimism as the first leg of the trip. And, hopefully, I will remember on the trip back that this too shall pass…
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