Our two older kids have birthdays in September and October, just a few weeks apart. For many years we have had separate birthday parties with both family and friends. As they have gotten older we found this to be very hectic and expensive, to say the least. If you have ever held a kid’s sleep-over type birthday party, you know that most plans and activities typically go out the window real quick, and at least a few of the kids end up bickering about something silly. So this year, we decided that instead of having all these sperate gatherings, we would let each kid pick one friend, and we would take them on a mini weekend vacation. A little Great America, some swimming in a hotel pool, and some good outlet mall shopping. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? A win-win for all! I thought so! As we were planning this vacation, I became a little excited too. I could use a night away, some quality time with the kids, some time to sit back and unwind away from all the tasks that haunt us as we try to relax at home.
Our adventure began early on a Saturday morning with a 4-hour drive before us and a minivan full of kids, packed to the roof with all the treasured possessions they needed for this exciting night away. With this comes chaos, the inevitable chaos that encompasses children and the busy life of a family. Of course, I had this picture in my head of how this was going to play out, and of course I should have known that things NEVER go as planned, but my naive mind thought for some reason this would be different, or hoped anyway. In Wisconsin, you can bet that October will be in the 50's or 60's, nice sweatshirt weather, but not this weekend, it turned out to be freakishly warm, no actually it was HOT, when we dropped our 16-year-old son and his friend off at Great America, the outside temperature was 96 degrees. Their full day at the amusement park turned into only 5 hours because the heat was exhausting. When we got to the hotel, (I booked it online and it sounded perfect on Orbitz!) I was a bit scared and it didn’t take long to conclude that we needed to get out of the reservation! After about an hour of phone calls my husband was able to cancel the reservation and we found a different hotel that felt much safer, and cleaner! The the minivan door decided to act up, we ended up riding around the scorching Gurnee Mill’s Mall parking lot with a continual annoying dinging until my husband finally discovered that if he ripped the weather strip off, the door would finally close. Funny isn't it, how chaos ensues, and the picture of perfection turns into the ideal making for new adventures to build memories upon. Everything we planned, just like most things, went out the window as soon as we drove out of our garage, suddenly MY minivacation turned into a lot of stress, a lot of work for mom and dad, but a great time for the kids.
Like I said, these moments they have the ability to become unexpected fond memories, ones we will probably look back upon and laugh at. It was so hot that the kids spent a great deal of time in the hotel pool, and strangely enough, we were the only ones to use the pool. How great it was for all of us to be in that space making memories, ones I will never forget. Sometimes, in today’s world of social media perfection, we get caught in the trap of comparing, maybe even competing. We shape these visions of what our life, our vacations, our weekends “should” be, based upon what we see everyone else doing. We see the pictures of families at the pumpkin patch, or trimming their Christmas Trees, and we begin to think that we are the only ones who seem to struggle with, or lack perfection, perceived perfection that is. Galatians 5:4 tells us this, “pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else”. What a great piece of advice this is, you see as moms and wives, we need to pay attention to what is going on in our life, we need to place our focus on the reality that is in front of us, not the perceived perfection we see on a screen that sometimes preoccupies us. Our “work” may be showing grace to our child who is having a tough time, even when we just want to scream. It is making the best of a vacation that has gone awry, laughing when things seem to be falling apart, and teaching our children God’s plan is much bigger than our own if we just let Him have control. Our work as a mom and wife does not seem to be earth shaking, and most days it is probably not something you will see on Facebook or Twitter because it probably wouldn’t get a ton of “likes”, but it is important work, undeniably important work! It is work that we have no way of comparing to others. But the value of this work, the loving effort we put forth, with bring us more fulfillment and happiness than we could ever express on our Facebook newsfeed or an Instagram picture. It is our perfect, imperfect, perfection. This satisfaction can be seen in the eyes of our child who knows they are loved, or in the embrace of our husband at the end of the day. It is gratification that cannot ever be fully captured in a picture but more importantly our heart.