There are many times that I look forward to a road trip with my family. This was not one of those trips. I was not in the mood to drive 8 hours to Virginia, but I was going to get in the car and do it anyway. We made the mistake of sleeping in. I dragged myself out of bed at 7:45 AM on Wednesday morning and by 9:15 AM we were all packed up and on our way. Note to self: Do not sleep in. Get up early and leave! Driving in the morning seems so much easier than driving ALL day long. At 5:30 PM we finally made it to my brother and sister in law’s home. The last hour was the hardest, and it was a very long day.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family. It was my father’s birthday, so it was a double celebration. A lot of food and football made for a nice day. I really enjoyed being with my family. It is always nice to get away from the normal routine and go see all our family in Virginia. Not only does my brother and his family live there but so does Seth’s brother and his family. It feels like pieces of us live in Virginia.

It is so great to see the cousins together. My heart was so happy and was also dreading the long drive home. At least it was only 8 hours. It could be worse, I told myself. We could be driving home from Myrtle Beach, which we have also done. Flying is sounding better and better until I heard how crazy the airports were. The good news is a I can pack up my car and go. The bad news is that we had a long drive ahead of us.

Sunday morning, I heard my parents up at 5 am getting ready to do the long drive home. You are probably wondering why we all don’t drive together? I don’t really know how to make that happen unless I lease or buy a really large vehicle. We would have all had to squeeze into my SUV and it was hard for us to fit our own luggage. Maybe we need an RV for the trip.

My parents were off on the road at 5:30 AM and I quietly started getting ready. By 7:15 AM our car was packed up and we were on our way home. I learned from my mistakes. I did not go back to sleep. I wanted to leave early, and I wanted to get home early. None of that sleeping in nonsense when we have a road trip ahead of us.

Note to parents: Travel when the kids are sleeping or groggy. The earlier the better.

Lillie tells me that she didn’t sleep well the night before and quickly falls asleep back in the third row. Max was feeling carsick on the way to Virginia so on the way home we gave him the front seat. We are off and running. Max isn’t feeling carsick, Ella is listening to music and Lillie is fast asleep. I think this is going to be a much easier ride home and I was partially right.

Lillie had mentioned that she loved that I packed muffins for her breakfast for the drive down to Virginia, so I went to their grocery store and grabbed us muffins for the ride home. When I walked downstairs, I quickly found out that the dog had eaten all the muffins. Note to self: Do not leave food in a bag on the floor. I should have stopped to buy more or stopped for breakfast because a hangry Lillie is NO fun!

I have learned a lot through the years about each one of my children. We all know that all our kids are different. Max is totally ok skipping any meals. Ella can deal with it. Lillie cannot skip a meal. Seth (my husband) needs to read that last sentence again so that he’s fully aware of this. We cannot let Lillie skip any meals. She wakes up from her nap hangry and crying and it is not a good situation.

She’s crying and I’m feeling so bad that she is refusing to eat anything that I have in the car. I tried to come prepared with a lot of snacks for the car, but she is in this mood of refusing snacks and just wanted a meal. Thankfully we found a place to stop and eat. Max and Lillie ask to stay and eat there. Note to self: I’m in a hurry for some reason. I don’t need to rush home. Let them stop and eat there and don’t make them eat in the car. It was a good decision.

Lillie starts eating her meal and becomes a totally different kid. She is now smiling and looks 100 % better. This is where my smart son identifies a family pattern:

“You know mom, I noticed something:

Lillie gets upset. Then you get upset. Then dad gets upset that you are upset. Then Ella gets upset. Then I get upset because everyone else is upset!”

Wow, he just nailed a family pattern. Once we identify it, we can work on changing it! Max continues with, “I told you that all she needed was some food.” It’s amazing how rational and spot on he was.

You see, I told Lillie to sleep with my niece last night when she wanted to sleep with me. I was feeling mom guilt and was blaming myself that Lillie was so tired and cranky. I was already feeling really bad before Lillie woke up from her nap crying and out of sorts. Which leads to Max and Ella saying to me,

“Why do you always blame yourself for things!” Wow, when your kids identify things and point them out to you it is just amazing. They are so right. I do tend to blame myself and make myself feel bad.

Two patterns identified.

Two patterns to change.

I will not go downhill with Lillie. Part of how I can start doing that is to stop blaming myself. Why do I jump to situations being my fault? If I can be a little easier on myself, I can change this who dynamic.

Not only did my kids need to get out of the car and stretch their legs and eat – we also needed to stop to have this very valuable conversation.

The next time Lillie gets upset I am going to pay attention to if I am blaming myself. That is how I am going to change this dance. What about you? Do you have a family pattern that you want to change? If you don’t, ask your kids. They may see something that you don’t see.

Another road trip in the books. Next time I’ll do even better. We arrived home safely so it was a success!


Laughing, Learning, Loving,

Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R


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