This is totally weird! We packed up the car and the four of us headed out for spring break.
The first part that is weird is the car part. You see, we have been driving the family van for the past 16 years. The “loser cruiser” is what our teenage children call it. But we drove it happily because the seven-seater fitted our family of six just fine, and there was always room for one more. We’ve used our van to transport sports teams, mission trips and we took all our family vacations in it.
Last week we down sized. After spending considerable time researching and test-driving many vehicles we bought a car. It has better gas mileage. It’ll better for the environment and our budget. But… a car? It only seats five!
This is the really weird part! Only two of our four children joined us on this trip. That’s only ½ our offspring. Downsizing a car is one thing… but downsizing our family?
The four of us fit quite nicely in our new car. This is the first trip where the ‘whole’ family isn’t coming. Our high school teens have spring break, which doesn’t co-ordinate with our university students’ spring break. Our two older daughters couldn’t come with us.
So as the four of us settled into our new car, I have three choices: cry, be happy or just be okay with it.
Recently a friend told me a story she had heard. Two families were on the beach building sand castles. As the tide came in, the families struggled to try to save their castles from the eroding waves. They fought fiercely trying to build thicker dams, larger moats and reinforcing the walls, but their efforts were futile against the power of the ocean. Eventually both sandcastles melted back into the shoreline.
What was interesting about the whole scene was how the two families responded to their situation.
One family turned to hysteria. The children were screaming, crying in anger and frustration as they watched their hard work wash away. The parent became exasperated with their children and in the end the entire family had a meltdown as they headed angrily to their car (I’m sure it was a family van…).
The other family responded very differently. The father recognized the futility of the struggle so he proposed that they move farther inshore and build a new castle beyond the pull of the tide. With renewed energy the family started the process again. They still built a sand castle, it just looked different and was in a new location.
This story fits my stage of life!! The tides of time are changing my family dynamics. Some children are leaving home while the ones at home increase their independence daily. We are all changing, and it would be impossible to try to hold on to the previous style of ‘family’.
So… I think I will do all three choices. I will cry. It is painful and I do need time to grieve life changes. I will laugh. I want to enjoy this new stage. Plus, having only two children on the trip is easier on the environment and our budget! We will still make memories.
And… I will be okay with it. Life changes. I want to enjoy the reality of today. I want to create a balance of hope for the future and warm memories of the past.
I want to enjoy this trip. Four of us in a car. But it still feels a bit weird.
Copywrite © Doris Born 2010 – Permission granted to use and reproduce with proper citation