We recently returned from a two-day road trip to visit my parents in Plano, Texas. Greensboro, NC to Plano, TX...1,200 miles. Allan and his two children and me with my three girls loaded up in Allan's Suburban and made the trek across many states to hug my parent's necks. On the second day of our drive down to the Lone Star State, Charlie (Allan's 11 year old) said, "I can't believe you have to drive this far to see your mom and dad!". I hear you, Bubba.
We had a great time with my parents, we visited Lake Texoma for a few days, we boated, we tubed, we played games, my dad cooked way too much, we ate at so many of the joints I frequented in college or were Texas favorites...Whataburger, Taco Cabana, Raising Cane's. We made memories and gained some weight around the middle, but it was a great trip overall.
Then, we had to drive home. If you have had children, you might be able to relate to this post.
Long road trips are like childbirth.
Getting in the car that first day was like the beginning stages. It sort of felt like being, I would say, about 2 centimeters dilated. I knew it was going to be a painful two days with five little ones in the car, but it wasn't really hurting just yet. I was still somewhat in good spirits as we were settling in for the ride.
After a few hours, the car got hot, I was sweating, despite the A/C being turned way down. Noises started to irritate me and I certainly didn't want to be touched. And we needed food, but I didn't want us to stop to eat because it would just slow us down. Sort of like when you think you are about ready to go to the hospital and you're starving but you know that you better not down a big meal just in case you need that C-section after all...or you need to throw up.
At this point, I was about 5 centimeters dilated...uncomfortable, a little queasy and antsy. It was definitely time to stop and get some food. We got out, stretched our legs and aching backs and walked around a bit. The walking felt so darn good. I know you know what I mean!
Then, after a good meal (but one we would never eat at home, does anyone really eat Cracker Barrel unless they are on a road trip?), we piled back into the car. The hours passed, the miles passed, and it felt like we would never get there. "How much longer?", "My butt is numb!", "I need water!"...I hear you guys.
And next came, the poop. One thing many women (especially new moms) worry about in that hospital bed while in labor is, "Will I poop when I push this baby out?". No-one wants to poop on a road trip. Not only does it waste precious road trip time, it's uncomfortable, bathrooms might not be the cleanest and everyone would know that that is what you are doing in the little restroom...it's even worse if you find a restroom for only one person and you hear that dreaded knock on the door. No-one wants to poop on the road, no-one wants to poop in labor. Period.
Finally, you reach the end of the trip. Sweaty, tired, aching, needing to go to the bathroom, ready to just be back home. You pull into your driveway and, in the words of my seven year old, sweet relief, you made it!
You are happy to be home, an overwhelming joy sets in. You made it! Just like when you are handed that precious baby, swaddled so perfectly by the amazing nursing staff (how do they learn to do that tight burrito swaddle anyway?).
You unload, you unpack, you relax. And you vow never to do that trip again. It was far too long and it was far too painful.
Then, about a year passes (sometimes more, sometimes less) and you start searching the map for your next road trip. Just like you would start planning for that next baby. And you don't really need to go, but you no longer remember the pain of the last trip.
So you go ahead and pack up and you do it again anyway.