A few days ago while driving my kids to school, the DJ on the radio asked the audience to call in and talk about what they missed the most about their life before kids.
I knew what was coming next: my youngest asked me what I missed the most about my life before I had him and his brother and sister, and I knew exactly what I missed the most.
“Getting lost,” I said.
I knew he wouldn’t understand my response. After all, who the hell wants to get lost?
So, I went on to explain that when you have kids, your mind worries more, you plan more, you think of what’s next more because that’s what you have to do in order to survive and get things done when your family grows.
Long gone are the days when you only have yourself to consider — you now have other tiny people in your life who are depending on you to make the right decisions for them. It’s easy to let the days go by and forget to embrace all the things this life has to offer like taking a walk in the woods.
I miss getting lost in the moment. I miss having more time to take random adventures because it’s fine if just my schedule gets derailed a bit. I miss not having to rush to 5 different school activities, and going for a hike on an random Tuesday evening instead.
But something I’ve tried to do more of, especially lately, is to let go of the routine a bit. The over-scheduled madness robs us of getting lost.
We are so focused on getting to the next task, or the next part of the day, and making sure everyone has what they need so the next morning isn’t a shitshow. We forget to leave it all behind and walk out the door and look at the sky after dinner.
Instead, we tend to the dishes, answer emails, fill out forms, help with homework, and get kids to practice.
I find I’m so worried about forgetting something, or getting to an event on time, there have been weeks– months even– when I’ve forgotten to actually live.
That includes taking random adventures, no matter how small, because I’m so uptight about all the other things that have to be done I can’t possibly take on one more thing.
Survival mode has a way of sucking you in, and giving you tunnel vision. It’s easy to forget to stop and look at the stars, listen to the rain, and pay attention to the fact that it really is okay to put it all down for a spell, walk out the front door, and breathe in all nature has to offer.
Yesterday I picked up the kids from school and instead of going home and hitting homework, packing lunches, and starting dinner prep like we usually do, we went to the apple orchard and bought pumpkins and got ice cream and pastries.
At first, my kids were bratty and my youngest son took my daughter’s pastry out of her hand and put it in the hood of her sweatshirt while my oldest complained about how it took me so long to pick out pumpkins for the front porch.
But it wasn’t long before everyone shut up and we were looking at the display of mini-pumpkins and the swing in the barn. They started talking about all the times we’ve come here and how it still smells the same, still looks the same, still makes us feel the same cozy happiness you can’t quite explain.
It was one of those moments I was so glad I took time out of the “busy” to spend quality time with my kids. It was unplanned and spontaneous and, of course, I thought for a moment we really should get home and get all our stuff done because we had such a busy week ahead. But I’m so glad I didn’t listen to that voice.
When we got home, we had the rest of the evening to tend to our life and no one suffered from it.
From now on, I am going to take the time to do more planned (and unplanned) adventures with my family. It sounds doable but it’s easy to forget.
The emails and homework can wait. Not everything has to be set up for the next morning — something always ends up going wrong anyway — so we might as well spend more time hiking, fishing, going for strolls after dinner, and watching our kids act like brats in the apple orchard.
They might not always excited or smiling and someone will always have to poop at the most inopportune time, but we can’t get these moments back with our kids. And we all deserve to take a break from the “busy” and go on a few adventures once in awhile instead.