When the kids were younger I loved going on trips and staying in hotels…. to be totally honest, I am a bit of a worrier, so the trips stressed me out but the hotel thing is definitely true. This came to mind as we moved my daughter half way across the state this last weekend. It was a trip that life had prepared me for but one that no parent is ever ready for it to happen.
Jordan was born 20 years ago to the week of this move and the lessons started there. Less than 24 hours from her entering this world the doctor said it was fine for us to take her home. I remember thinking, ‘We really haven’t done this before… maybe we should practice a couple days while you all watch.’ In life there really are no safety nets, you learn as you go and hope everyone only ends up with bumps and bruises.
Our home at that time was a one bedroom apartment, in fact its simplicity is something I long for today. We had set the dining room (eat in kitchen) up as the nursery but that didn’t last long. Soon the crib was in our bedroom and often times feedings made it easier for Jordan to stay in bed with us for most of the night. For a few days we lived and breathed as one but then I had to go back to work. This was possibly the first lesson, no matter how much you cherish someone there will be a point that you are going to have to be apart from them because life doesn’t have a pause button.
Two years later our son was born. This time we were anxious to get out of the hospital. Our family of 3 had become 4 and number 3 was back across the state with my parents. At that point we were renting a 2 bedroom home but often times we still ended up all in one room at night. At the time I am sure this was a source of frustration, nobody wants to sleep in a queen size bed with 3 other bodies but looking back it is a happy memory. Memories live on as frustrations fade, maybe another lesson.
In my recollection Meric stopped sleeping with us around 3, but his mother will tell you 5. For his sake I am sticking with 3 because nobody wants to be that kid. This is when my love of hotel travel started. You see most child psychologist will assert that it is important for children to have the independence a room provides and I wouldn’t argue with them. Sharing a room with siblings is one thing but sharing with parents is something you would probably at the very least be teased about it in kindergarten. To the contrary, I have never heard anyone state that it is in poor form for parents to share a hotel room with their young children, in fact you would probably get in trouble if you rented a 5 and 7 year old their own room.
During vacations or weekend trips as we all laid down to go to sleep it was just about the only time that all 4 heartbeats gathered in one place. Sure we ate dinner or watched TV together but our minds were always in other places. The quaint confines of a hotel room was the only place I can think of that we were all together, just being. As I noted in the beginning of this reflection I am a worrier, in fact my wife might say I’m neurotic, so it was also is one of the few times that the “what if’s” that constantly run through my head actually stopped. In this place if something happened to one of us, it was likely to happen to all of us and in my mind that thought was of some relief.
This last weekend I learned possibly the hardest lesson yet. Sometimes you have to let go. As much as I would have liked for her to stay, it was time for Jordan to take the next step in her journey. Luckily I got to spend 4 hours in a moving truck with her so we had lots of time to talk. It was comforting to me that she was just about as scared by the whole thing as I was. I think we both came to understand that in order for life to progress sometimes tough changes have to be endured. I guess pain and sorrow can be good teachers as well.
I spent the drive home convincing myself that we would both be alright… OK convincing myself I would be alright. It isn’t like we left her all alone, her boyfriend Ethan is with her and family is only a few minutes away. I am thinking that if things get too rough for me though we could all squeeze in with them, it is a 2 bedroom duplex. That Robison guy had it all figured out. An entire family in one tree, it’s kind of like a leafy hotel room. At least until they were teenagers and then it was a hormonal-smelly mess. On second thought it’s probably a good thing we don’t share rooms with our children.