Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From California With Love

We are in sunny, breezy California enjoying some quality family time this week. My husband had a meeting to attend this week in San Diego, so the kids and I joined him. There has been plenty to do...Legoland, the San Diego Zoo, the Zoo Safari Park, Seaworld, Coronado beach, the USS Midway. Today we made the trek up to Anaheim for the kid-focused grand finale at Disneyland.

As I've strived to really up the ante on my Hands Free Mama efforts I have resisted the urge to post daily updates online (a fact that has led to concerned text messages from my close family and friends). 

To be completely honest, the other reason for my non-posting has been a fear of judgment for taking another family trip this year. This has been a year jam-packed with adventure for our family--and frankly, it is a bit cringe-inducing.

I have been wrestling with God on whether or not I should spend time worrying about 'what other people think.' In general, I think there is a fine line in "living to please God, not man" and paying appropriate attention to the impressions/thoughts/feedback of others. This is where the Internet can be a dangerous place. Even though I share fairly vulnerably from my heart, there is still only a very small group of people who really know me--my heart, my motives, my struggles. Those are the voices I need to listen to--the ones that know the Lord and know my heart. All those other voices shouldn't matter--but, for better or for worse, I struggle with being sensitive to them.

Tonight over dinner my husband and I were talking (over the children's ever present eight year old silliness) about why we value family travel. We love adventure, seeing and exposing our children to new places and things. It is our hobby. We don't 'play' or collect anything. We travel and we parent. It just makes sense for us to combine those two things. 

As I have been chewing through all this, I've realized I am really selfish about my family time. I share my husband about 90 (or more) hours a week. When we have a chance for family time, I want to get out of town where he can be unavailable to anybody but us. It is not a matter of 'time management' for him when we are in town...if someone is having a medical/surgical crisis and requests him it would be quite selfish for us to reply with 'sorry, it's our family time.' I knew this when I fell in love with him. It is his vocational call. I understand. But for our family's sanity, it requires getting out of dodge with some degree of regularity.

Traveling allows me a great opportunity to escape the distraction and noise of my everyday life and really focus on quality time with my people. I hope that one day I might attain the self control to do this at home, but for now I appreciate the gift of not having household responsibilities and/or the tyranny of the other things people declare 'urgent.' Having my husband around to consistently co-parent requires a bit of adjustment for my independent, bossy pants self...but it is worth it!

I am completely theme-parked out, but we are having a great time. I am looking forward to a return to the Eastern time zone and the comfort of my own bed, but I wouldn't trade the memories we have made.

At our fondue dinner last night when R requested seconds of marshmallow cream at 10pm Eastern, we realized we were seriously on vacation.  I treasure the fact that we also broke all our normal 'rules' and had a family pillow fight upon arrival at our hotel tonight. I equally value the 8 year old conversations that have revealed all kinds of things I didn't know about everyday fears, friend troubles, questions about divorce and the ever-important installation of a new lemonade machine at school. I even learned this week that R thought 'cruel' was a naughty word but P was singing a truly crude word oblivious to how inappropriate it was--YIKES!

When R commented Monday "I marked A LOT of things off my bucket list today, Mom" my heart smiled. And when P wrapped his arms around me yesterday and told me he wouldn't trade me for a million dollars, I could have floated out of the room. We probably didn't have to travel across the country for that, but these are sweet, sweet times.

I have also been painfully reminded that despite my possessiveness of my people and my commitment to family time, our table manners are still atrocious and all this travel has STILL not taught my children how to be quiet in a hotel room. I guess that's just job security for Mom.


Meaghan said...

girlfriend. i wrestle with this all. the. time. i keep thinking i'll quit blogging then keep blogging then close my comments then leave facebook then rejoin facebook... sigh. i blog to remember and people think what they may. i've always felt you were so sweet and genuine so i hope that's comforting ;) i've been reading your blog off and on for maybe four + years!!! shocking! lol you've always been an encouragement to me.

Bill and Jenn said...

Love your heart on this one. And even though my husband doesn't work nearly the hours your does, one of our favorite family activities is to travel, too. ;). Something about experiencing new places together without the encumbrances of regular day-to-day life-- makes great family time! So no need Explain to me!

I am a little bummed that you are on my coast, just a couple of hours from my home... And I don't get to meet you and give you a hug!! Enjoy the rest of your CA time! Safe travels on your return home!

Peter & Whitney Mallory said...

So glad you enjoyed San Diego. I live here and LOVE your blog. God has used you to teach me regarding so many topics. I know your entire post was about how this trip was treasured family time, but, oh, how I wish I could have shown you guys around Coronado! I would love to meet you and thank you in person for your wisdom and transparency. Safe travels back to Georgia!

~April~ said...

I love to hear about your family travels! Don't worry what others think of you. A friend once told me that even Jesus could please everyone so I do I think that I can. Enjoy these times with your precious family! You are making so many memories.

Love Being A Nonny said...

I too struggle with this when I blog/facebook/instagram. When I got a new car I was careful not to get it in pictures, etc. I try not to brag on my adult children, though it's tough not to brag on my grands! :) A friend told me once "Celebrate the good things and the good times. Tell the world. Shout it from the rooftops. There will be bad times. So, celebrate the good." I love that...but not everyone understands. So, I have to make a choice. Do I have the confidence and the trust that the only one I am trying to please is my Lord? Not yet. I am ashamed to say. Not yet. But I am getting there. Celebrate what HE has given you JenMom. It's all about your heart attitude. And the way I see it, He is pleased with yours.

Jan said...

Funny you worry about this because I think you are the perfect mix of sharing without oversharing. Your blog is such an inspiration to me. I've been reading for many least 5 or 6, and I've always enjoyed your posts!

Samantha said...

Don't waste a minute worried about the judgement of others regarding your family. Your blog always displays your humble spirit and I love seeing the smiling faces of your children as they experience new things. You are never boastful of your travels. You do not taunt your readers with all the fun. I certainly hope no one would leave a hurtful, judgemental comment, but if they do, chalk it up to jealousy. This reader only sees a happy family enjoying life together.

JMom said...

Thanks for the encouragement ladies! I appreciate it more than you know. Part of appreciating y blessings is paying attention to them. There will certainly be sad and hard seasons. I don't want to be a person that feels like it is good to talk about those and shameful to celebrate.

Eleanor said...

You are always so sweet, so genuine, and so humble!! Enjoy this wonderful season of travel and great family time without guilt! It is a blessing!

Nichole said...

Just wanted to chime in as another mom who receives so much encouragement from what you post! My kiddos are younger than yours (1 and almost 3), but I am able to gain so much from your writing...specifically on the days when I feel like my heart is just not into the "motherhood" role. You should never have to apologize for the opportunity to travel and show your children the country or the world. Your time with them in your home is short, but their memories of the time you spent investing in them will be least that's my perspective on my time with my own parents. Thank you for sharing and I can assure you there is no judgement or resentment here...and only a tiny bit of jealousy that you are soaking up the California sun! Ha! :-)

Katy said...

Keep on traveling! It's the kids that will remember the memories not the onlookers that "see" you through this blog.

We value family time to. We bought a boat & realized how much we loved it because we had the undivided attention of the boys. There weren't any distractions, phones, electronics, friends, etc. Just us! My husband also loves to go out to eat because we trap the boys in the booth & have true conversation. Nobody is running to clean the table or the kitchen!

I can relate with you on a parenting level and doing is alone for so many hours during the week. That have found the value of true family time & making time for it on a consistent basis!

It's living on purpose & not just letting time fly by without us noticing.


Kathleen said...

I think it is wonderful that you make the most of the time you have with the whole family. You are making so many wonderful memories for your family.