It’s time for some more exciting news regarding the Good Enough Mother site!
Yes we’re thrilled to announce the addition of another fabulous columnist – Rachel Vidoni. Rachel has her own blog at and will be writing for us on a bi-weekly basis to offer her own unique take on parenting, imperfection and all the other good stuff we like to discuss here!
For her first column Rachel is tackling a topic I know we can ALL identify with – Thanksgiving travel… Oh boy! You all know how much I love road trips with my two. Not!
Take it away Rachel…
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My family is staying put this year for Thanksgiving—leaving me feeling very thankful we aren’t making our annual seven-state trek to Wheeling, West Virginia to spend the holiday with my husband’s family. Instead, we invited (encouraged) them to fly to our home, because relocating three adults is significantly easier than schlepping three children, two adults, and a minivan full of crap more than 630 miles over the river and through the woods. I’ve done more than my fair share of driving long distances with the fruits of my womb, and five minutes of reminiscing about last year’s trip is enough to keep me from wanting to do it again. Travel-control, if you will.
Weeks before last year’s trip, my kids ran around the house planning the games, headphones, food items, blankets and pillows they would shove into the backseats, making our mini van look like an episode of Hoarders. I, on the other hand, spent that time borrowing the roof-top luggage carrier from our friends and trying to mentally organize the van so I wasn’t up to my armpits in assorted sundries before we left our street. My husband actually asked if we really needed the luggage rack. I laughed. Sometimes I think he lives in a parallel universe to this one.
We always try to leave in late afternoon, thinking we’ll drive for a few hours, stop for dinner, and finish the majority of the trip in the dark while the children sleep. Unfortunately, I didn’t time our departure very well, and 2:30 p.m. is not a good time to leave Massachusetts heading south on Interstate 95, given that it puts you right outside New York when people are flying out of the city in a mass migration. Halfway through Connecticut brake lights glowed like a river of lava – so we decided to follow the GPS and get off the highway, which is never a good idea. Needless to say, three hours later we finally made it into New Jersey. Yep – only New Jersey…
I must admit that despite the traffic and the length of the trip up to that point, my three children were perfect angels. No one cried, pouted, whined, peed their pants, threw-up, or got a fever. I’m sure some of their good-naturedness had to do with the fact that their eyes were glued to some type of hand-held gaming device or video playing screen. In an effort to keep their brains from turning to soup, I usually police their time on such drivel, but on this trip I was actually throwing movies at them card-dealer style and suggesting they play a few more games, even if their thumb joints were tired. If I have ever said a nasty word about video games or our society’s dependence on the television set, I would hereby like to publicly eat my words and thank those designers and engineers who save the lives and restore peace to traveling families worldwide. Even my two year old sat quietly in the car seat, her face reflecting the glow of Elmo banging away on his dollar store piano for at least 70 blissful minutes. It was a little slice of heaven I tell you.
My children were so fabulous they didn’t even complain about not getting to eat dinner until 9:00 p.m. Sitting in all that traffic threw off the drive-eat-sleep plan, so in addition to feeding their brains with mind-numbing entertainment, I was also feeding their tummies the only food I had brought with me: candy, fruit snacks, Gatorade, and stale Halloween pretzel packs. I know. What kind of mother leaves the house on a 10-hour road trip without packing emergency ham and cheese sandwiches or a measly PB & J? The kind of mother who’s short on space. I’m telling you the only way I could have fit sandwiches in that van is if I smashed them between their faces and the windows and called them pillows.
But by 9:00 even the best of kids get hungry, and I was feeling guilty for not providing some type of official dinner. I’m pretty sure that dinner-before-bed is in my parental job description somewhere. We managed to locate some highly nutritious fast food in a nameless little town and picnicked in the parking lot, since everything was about to close—it being 9:00 p.m. and all. Now if I was a resident of this town and I happened upon a family like mine – squatting in a mini van with the back up in a dark parking lot, children sitting on top of blankets and pillows while eating dry beef-product patties on a bun and whose parents were wolfing down sodas and hoagies while simultaneously trying to keep the pillows and crap from falling out of the vehicle onto the dirty, filthy pavement, I would have probably called the police. Or I would have asked that family if they needed 50 bucks and a place to stay the night. Fortunately, we managed to finish our quality eats, change the kids into pajamas, clean out the accumulated trash, and reorganize the pillows and blankets before Social Services stopped by to question us. Unfortunately, no one offered us $50 bucks.
The remainder of our trip went totally according to plan. The kids watched glowing screens until brain-soup dribbled out their ears. They consumed more candy and pretzel packs than on Halloween night. They unbuckled their seat belts (gasp!) and laid on the seats and on the floor of the van, tempting fate with each passing moment. No one fell asleep until we were an hour from our destination. We pulled into Nana and Papa’s house at 2:30 in the morning and were greeted with a dozen donuts. What kid can say no to donuts at 2:30 a.m.?
But that’s what you do for family. You cram five humans and four tons of crap into a three-ton space, fill the gas tank, and head out with a smile. Spending time with family is what’s important after all, regardless of the price. So while my children are a tad disappointed we won’t be making the annual excursion west, I told them we could relive their favorite moments by squishing them together on the loveseat and watching a movie. I’d even throw stale Halloween pretzels and candy their way.
But all will be made well when my husband pulls into the driveway with his parents—who’ll present my children with a dozen of their favorite donuts and a lot of love. You see this year we’re getting all the benefits of seeing our family, and all I had to do was remove the ring around the toilet and hair-balls from the bathroom floors. Now that’s a trade off I’ll make any year…
Rachel Vidoni is a professional writer and blogger and former classroom teacher. She is a mediocre mother to three pretty neat kids. You can follow her humor and family blog at www.eastcoastmusings.blogspot.com. You might not be a better parent after reading her blog, but you will feel like one.