Last week I had the chance to go with Brooklyn and her Girl Scout troop to San Francisco. Several years ago Brooklyn had a friend move to California, and we went on a girls trip to visit them. That was the first true girls trip I did with only one of my daughters. Lexi and I have done a staycation in Phoenix with one of her good friends and her mom. So this was my third “big adventure” with one of the girls and without the rest of our family.
So it was so much fun to get to go with Brooklyn to San Francisco. I had never been, and honestly it wasn’t ever on my bucket list. Why was it not on my bucket list? It was such an amazing city! I didn’t go with the thought that it was “my trip” or “my vacation.” I was along for the ride. I think we need to do that a lot more often. Especially as our kids get older. Let them take the lead and see where they take you. It’s a great way to see how their personality is developing, what their interests are, and understand them better.
- Her joy. She was animated and laughing most of the trip.
- She showed an interest in the beauty of the city, and definitely reconfirmed what I already knew, that she has a natural eye as a photographer.
- She got slightly bored at Alcatraz (she didn’t inherit the history loving gene that went to Lexi).
- She loved the architecture of the Golden Gate Bridge, but didn’t care one bit that she had a Great, Great Uncle who helped build it (sorry Grandma Deanna).
- She had a blast at the Wax Museum. I never would have guessed EVER! It was so much fun.
It’s memories like these that we keep forever, but more importantly these are memories that our kids have forever. I think that is so important. Imagine if you had these kind of memories from your childhood.
I’m a strong believer in the family vacation. Escaping the day-to-day reality and just being together. I have found that a lot harder to do since the girls have gotten older and their health less stable. A lot of time off seems to go to sick days and medical appointments. We had a huge 12 day Disney World & Disney Cruise vacation planned for Lexi’s 16th birthday this summer, but we had to cancel that one. We just couldn’t justify the cost with the unknown of how she would feel. Honestly the thought of not going on that trip just really breaks my heart. Those kind of trips have held some of our best family memories.
So when did time and money become so interchanged? The thought that to make wonderful memories there had to be some grand adventure attached to them. I think that is something that adults get stuck in their heads. I think of the 7 days last spring that I spent with Lexi at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Her, Adam, and I in a hospital room. Feeding tube, child life therapy, nurse Hannah. Tears, hugs, cuddling, screaming, fainting, struggling, but being together and supporting one another. The memories from that one week I will cherish in my heart forever. Not because it was good. Far from it. It was one of the worst weeks of our lives, but because we were completely together and oblivious to anything else but what was important. The picture below capturing a moment that I am sure I will never forget for as long as I live. It is forever branded in my memory, and I feel blessed to have captured it in a photo.
I think of some of the most meaningful conversations that I have had with Brooklyn, as she has struggled with anxiety. Time where I stopped talking and just listened. Completely gave her all of me. Time when she asked for Adam and I to sit with her, family meetings, and just supporting one another. Never leaving our living room. Learning to understand that Brooklyn offers limited opportunities to open up, and when she is ready you need to stop. You need to stop and invest your attention in her completely, because whatever she is going through is so much bigger then whatever important thing you think you are doing at that moment.
So I challenge you to change your perception of quality time with your children. Don’t look at what you can’t do, like our epic Disney vacation, but decide what you can do. We won’t be on a cruise ship for the 4th of July, but we will be in a log house in the woods with our best friends and their kids. We won’t be celebrating Lexi’s birthday at Disney World, but we will celebrate everyone’s birthdays by staying in tiny little cabins on a lake in Arizona. We don’t go sleeping in tents anymore, because things like electricity are important with medical equipment, but we just have to plan ahead and be thankful for tiny little cabins with electricity and air conditioning.
For a lot of my life I have thought you had to go big, had to spend big, had to dream big to create memories. It’s a lesson that I it took me 40 years to learn. None of that matters. If I have the people who I love most around me then all I need is time. I need to give them time.