Sometimes folks are subtle, and whisper across the table. And sometimes they unabashedly stare and point at what seems perfectly normal to me, but outrageous to so many onlookers: a family with six young boys. Throw in the novelty, I suppose, of us being a mixed race couple (with super cute hapa babies!) and the comments and questions seem endless.
And while this is a natural daily occurrence at the grocery store, the playground, the mall, or pretty much anywhere we go as a family, nothing compared to the amount of curiosity we experienced while on vacation these last two weeks.
It was as if many of the couples and families on vacation in Orlando, New Orleans, and all the other cities we passed through all had the same (sometimes unspoken) questions for us:
My favorite of all the questions asked of us was when one older gentleman in an elevator with Troy and the boys, tried to make sense of the number of kids and the ethnicity, and stepped out of the elevator asking,
"Are you all a Christian organization?"
It really never bothers me when people ask in disbelief, because to be honest, I'm just as shocked as they are. I'm the most unlikely mother I know. I planned on having 2 kids, tops. And I only imagined having girls. So, yes. I empathize with folks who simply can't get over why we have six boys, and why we'd travel 4000 miles in a car with them. And not go to DisneyWorld.
Sometimes I think we make vacations far too complicated. I know I did, prior to journeying 2 weeks with my tribe from New Mexico to Florida, and back again. We imagine all the daily challenges of raising young people-- the bickering, the whining, the logistics, the fussing, and the noise...and all the daily challenges of being an impatient and weary mom-- and we cannot help but fear endless hours together in a car, sharing the same space, doing the same things for days and days. So, we might avoid the opportunity altogether (which I almost did) or fill the time on vacation with a busy agenda (which I was tempted to do). No, traveling with six young boys isn't easy. But, neither is raising them. We don't do it because it's easy, or because we are naturally good at it. No, we're not a Christian organization; we're a perfectly chaotic group of people who long to reflect Christ.
And while there are seasons and years where vacationing with littles is simply un-relaxing, I've been discovering that sometimes the most un-relaxing part of spending time with all my kids, is me.
Because this is what I learned from my boys on our summer road trip: What kids really want more than anything...more than souvenirs, more than ice cream, more than movies, and more than roller coasters...are parents who are having a blast being with them doing whatever they do.
If I was having fun...at the pool, on the road, listening to audio books, at the beach, or cleaning out the car...they were having fun too. It really didn't matter what we were doing, as long as we were enjoying each other in the process.
Of course we had family meetings, arguments, bad attitudes, and repentance and forgiveness with one another. That's what family does. At home or 2000 miles away. But that's all part of the package. You don't take a vacation from being family. You go on vacation to experience it more fully.
And to my surprise, our family is closer and richer for the miles we've traveled together.
*For more behind the scenes photos of our trip, visit me on Instagram #simonsroadtriptoflorida.