Through my tears and frustration I could hear her crying on the other bed. In that second I knew I had one chance to redeem this trip. They were watching…they were feeling my emotion. This was a chance to teach them how to make lemonade out of life’s lemons.
So, I took a deep breath. Willed away my tears and began to really look at our situation.
And then the strangest thing happened…I started laughing.
Here we were nine hours from home, one day into our whirlwind vacation that would reunite us with family and surprise the kids with day trips to Sea World and Disney World. We had van full of clothes, games, toys, homeschool materials, coolers, snacks, you name it. And somehow in the early morning rush to hit the road one suitcase had gotten left behind.
Only minutes ago we had discovered that my suitcase was still sitting next to our bed at home. I had thought my husband grabbed it and he had thought that the smaller matching suitcase (full of our daughter’s clothes) was the one I was bringing. Not 24 hours ago I had joked with my brother if I didn’t get packed I was going to be naked in Orlando…suddenly that was a real possibility.
As I began to laugh, the kids just looked at me. My husband went from rubbing my back to shaking his head.
“Are we going to get you some new clothes, mom?” our daughter asked.
I nodded. And then added I had packed extra sunblock so I wouldn’t get burned if I was naked in Orlando. Now everyone joined me laughing.
As my husband and I began to concoct a plan. I just kept giggling and saying, “this is the dumbest thing.” Within seconds our four-year-old son had picked up the refrain and was saying it too. His little voice cracked us up and the laughter increased.
After a quick trip to the mall I have a couple of new shirts, pants, undergarments, sweats, socks and shoes. I try not to shop for myself so this was actually kind of a splurge for me. Thankful that we will have laundry facilities where we are staying, I was able to save us money by getting enough to wear a few times.
In all truth, of course, I would rather have my clothing with matching accessories and broken in shoes. I would rather have several outfit options, not just plain t-shirts. That is what my tears were over earlier in the evening…not having what I wanted, what I had packed, what I had planned.
After our trip to the mall the kids sat up on the bed and watched me lay out what we had purchased. “Oooh, I like that color,” our daughter said. “I like that sweatshirt it is soft,” our son added. And as their happy chatter about the evenings events filled our room, I knew that all was well.
Isn’t it so easy to get caught up in our wants and our own plans that when life goes sideways we lament. We don’t chose joy. We choose whining, crying, frustration or anger. But these moments are important. They are important for us, they are important for our children to watch and be part of, and they are important to God. Life is full of unmet expectations and messed up plans, and if we choose to get caught on those speed bumps we’ll miss the blessings down the road.
Last night as I tried on clothing at the mall, I listened to my kids and my husband giggling and playing games in the store. I smiled in the mirror as I tried on my new t-shirt. We had planned on a quick dinner and finding a place to get their energy out. We hadn’t planned on a big ole Italian dinner — stuffing our kids with pasta, bread, and salad — great conversation, fun games and time to just sit and look each other in the face. We hadn’t planned on them walking through the mall (getting their energy out) and playing with daddy or helping me pick out clothing. They were precious moments we didn’t plan and we could have missed if I had chosen to pout my way through last night.
It comes down attitude, doesn’t it? Whether we chose joy in the moments that frustrate us? Do we choose to redeem the moments for those around us even when inside we want to stomp our feet and cry?
Today we’ll finish our road trip toward our weekend of fun and family. I’ll be the one in a plain t-shirt and yesterday’s capris. And the last 24 hours will become a thing of family trip legend — remember the trip when mom didn’t bring her suitcase?? Well, at least it won’t be known as the trip where mom was naked in Orlando!!