Getting Away
Making memories through the meltdowns

“That was so much fun! When can we go back?”

After 4 days in Hershey, in the heat, with an over 2-hour drive back home ahead of us, that was the best thing we could hear. Even if all Sarah and I wanted was a nap, I couldn’t help but feel good through the exhaustion about the time we had all just spent being away together as a family.

If I’m being honest, I was never the best traveler, even before we were a party of 4. Actually, I didn’t have a passport before I met Sarah. Admittedly, my work/life balance had no balance at all, so learning to travel was something for me to figure out. And now learning to travel with kids is even more of a challenge. 

The way I described our most recent trip when asked by a friend: Awesome, exhausting and validating. When you think of family vacation, you have a vision of making memories together and having the pictures afterwards to remember the fun. And we had that in excess. Life is so busy that when I get to spend time with just the 4 of us together, I’m reminded just how truly lucky I am. The smiles on the boys’ faces as we were riding the shuttle bus to and from the park and when they were running off the carousel to tell me how great it was are etched in my brain. The time we got to spend together laughing and playing in the pool and on the rides is something I would never trade.

But those pictures don’t show the struggles of taking the kids away from their normal routine, because it isn’t relaxing or restful when you go away with 2 young children. If we’re being totally transparent, having young kids out of their element, away from home and oftentimes waiting in long lines while they are either overheated, overexcited or overtired is not the easiest challenge for even the best parents. And since Adam was just learning to sleep in a bed after moving out of his crib, you could say that none of us were well rested. So even hopes for the best day with tons of fun sometimes started with a meltdown about shoes. And that may have been followed by a tantrum because of having to wait in line for the shuttle.

So there I was in the middle of our 4th meltdown before 9 am, questioning what I was doing wrong as a parent since I couldn’t calm my own child or get him to listen, and I looked around and saw that many of the families around me were having the exact same challenges. I watched parents around me trying to figure out what was wrong with their children, just as I was. And I could see the same fear they felt. We all seemed to feel like we were being judged by our children’s behavior.

Many times when my kids are acting out in public, my mind thinks it’s only happening to me or because of me. But being in a place where everyone was in the same situation actually helped me see it wasn’t just us. Everyone was in line. Everyone was trying to distract their children just as we were. Everyone (even the neighbors we ran into randomly in the park) had the same sentiments about the heat and the time things took and how patience can be hard to come by.

It got me back to remembering what taking this time away was all about in the first place. It wasn’t about the lack of sleep or the long lines or the meltdowns or the kids antagonizing each other. The kids aren’t going to remember most of that (though we might!). The trip is about the lasting memories from our latest adventure together. And that leaves me very much looking forward to the next time we go back (just hoping we get a little more sleep).

Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer


October 2023
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