Carry-On Kids

I have seen something else under the sun:
       The race is not to the swift
       or the battle to the strong,
       nor does food come to the wise
       or wealth to the brilliant
       or favor to the learned;
       but time and chance happen to them all. –Ecc.9:11

Call me crazy… but, I am going to Europe this summer. Why’s that crazy? you ask… Wait for it. When I go on this trip, I will be 5 months pregnant. I will also have an 18-month old in tow. Now you’ll agree that I’m out of my mind, right?

 Believe me, I know. I really struggled with whether or not this was the right time for my family to take this trip or not.  There’s a lot of exciting and important stuff going on here at Foothills, my husband’s job is always demanding, I am physically—let’s say, compromised—for awhile, and then there’s the whole toddler factor in this equation. You know that age when the language skills haven’t caught up with the mental development, and everything from “I’m thirsty” to “my nose itches” comes out as a piercing shriek? Yeah, that will be fun on a 10-hour plane ride…

 But, here’s the thing. First of all, this trip is an amazing opportunity for us, and it was just too good to pass up. The timing was not within our control. But also, I started thinking about all the things that we give up because we are too busy, too tired or too stressed to work them in.  We figure that being a parent–or a professional or a laborer or a person in the world– is adventure enough, so we cut out nearly everything else to endure it… Time with friends. Time to pursue creative endeavors. The chance to learn a new skill or take a class. A few hours to just be outside and enjoy nature. Even our faith and spirit take a hit. So often I hear people say they believe—something—but don’t belong to a faith community because there just isn’t enough time…

 And so, I decided:  This time, I will make time. I will make time to spend a week with my family, away from the comforts and drains of our routine. I will make time for adventure, however tired and hormonal I may be. I will give the gift of this time to my daughter, in hopes that she will grow in the same adventurous spirit that I found as a child.  I will take this time for myself, for my soul, my marriage, and the people I haven’t met yet. But most of all, I will take this time to remember that time is a gift, and not a constraint. The only limits on our time are the ones that we impose on ourselves. We get to choose—every single day—what is most important, what is needful, what is life-giving for ourselves and our families.

If time and chance happen to us all, then I will accept the gifts that both can offer. Time and Chance, after all, can both bring hardship. Both bring daily challenges, both catch up with us at inopportune moments, and both can rule our lives if we let them. Instead, we can choose to make a little room for the miracle of each. We can choose to embrace the chances and take the time,  to seek the holy in all that is unexpected, and the joy in all that we cannot control. We can fly, just every now and then, by the seat of our pants, and let the everyday take a back seat to the once in a lifetime. If there are kids in the picture…well, kids are the perfect example of the everyday and the miraculous that we must somehow bridge when life comes calling.  And the best thing about kids…well, they come in carry-on size. Hauling them along–to sleep in strange places, hear foreign tongues, ride in scary cars without car seats and eat food that did not come from a paper bag–is the best possible way to teach them that life does not stop for our previously scheduled program.

 I have seen something else under the sun… and I plan to go where I might see something else again. Meanwhile, say a little prayer for me, on an out-of-my-mind adventure with a little one–well, two actually–in carry-on size.  I’ll let you know how they say “use your words,” “don’t eat that,” and “please stop screaming” in Italian.  Univeral language, indeed…


2 comments on “Carry-On Kids

  1. Sounds like a fun trip! And I admire your sense of adventure and desire to pass that along to your daughter. We have some friends here who have a three-year-old who has turned into quite a world traveler (she has been to Germany three times, Russia twice, the US, Mexico, and England). Her parents have said that the iPod Touch, complete with movies and games, has been a life-saver for them on flights. That and keeping up the excitement and sense of adventure in the whole endeavor.

  2. Europe? $5,000 but the dollar is rising against the euro. Pregnant?? $500,000 but you get perks. Courage to step outside the house and experience the world? Priceless. At age 64 I wish I had started at age 20 to do the crazy things that now feed my spirit and my memories. “A trip of 1000 miles begins with just one step.” Congrats for taking that step. You have learned well, Grasshopper.

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