I am not a fan of surprises. Not even those positive, happy, or joyful in nature…honestly, I very much struggle with spontaneity.
So a few weeks ago, when my husband said, “We’re not going home,” three days into what was supposed to be a two night spring break family vacation, I was a little miffed.
And so were the kids.
We’d gone down to San Antonio to redeem a two-night stay in a hotel near the River Walk that we’d won at the annual Winning The Fight mini-golf tournament last year. In addition, we were treated to a San Antonio Spurs stadium tour and basketball game because my younger brother works for the team. With our middle-schoolers in tow, for two nights we’d shared a small hotel room and bathroom and managed to have a pretty good time doing things other than looking at iPhone and iPad screens. However, I knew we were all looking forward to spending the remainder of the spring break week at home.
The kids had activities planned, my eighth grade son was looking forward to connecting with some of his friends, my sixth grade daughter was enrolled in two art camps (which she LOVES), and I was looking forward to whatever was on my calendar, as well as reconnecting with our son who was home on his college spring break that week as well.
Responding my obvious look of disbelief, my husband got a snicker on his face. I asked, “What do you mean we’re not going home?” I glanced behind me at the kids in the backseat who both had a mixture of alarm and annoyance written across their faces.
“Just what I said, we’re not going home. I thought since we were this far south, and have never been to Corpus Christi, we’d spend a few nights there as well.”
Oh crap, he’s serious.
I look back again and see both kids clearly discombobulated and my daughter mouthing “Mom! What the heck?!”
Returning my gaze to the man at my left, whom I have been living with as his better half for the past quarter century, I say, “But, Mia is signed up for two art camps and Maddux has plans with friends this week. I can’t remember what I have going on off hand, but we can’t just go spend the rest of the week in Corpus Christi!”
I wasn’t yelling; because I don’t do that (ha). I was merely stating strongly my opposition to this unexpected turn of events.
“I took care of all of it. I called the Art House; Mia has a credit for camps this summer. Your mom has extra dog food for the dogs, Maddux’s friends parents already know about our plans, I didn’t see anything earth shattering on your calendar, and I packed extra clothes for all of us.”
It appeared he’d thought of everything. My husband had gone ahead and rented a 2 bedroom/2 bath condo in Corpus Christi for three nights…and he’d taken care of all of the details so we could go and enjoy ourselves!
Then I remembered…”Brigham’s home this week, we haven’t seen him since Christmas! He’s all alone, that’s not fair.” To which Tom responded, “I know, I do feel bad about that, but he’s working long shifts almost every day this week, so he wouldn’t have been able to come with us anyway.”
Then he asked me to call Brigham and tell him, because it was the one thing he didn’t do.
Trying to sound upbeat, I called and broke the news. As expected, Brigham was fine with being alone the rest of the week and could handle the guinea pig duty a few more nights.
After about a half hour of driving in silence, Tom announced we needed to stop for gas. When he got out of the car to fill it up, I turned to the kids (one of whom was threatening tears) and said, “Apparently dad has given us the gift of three nights in a condo near the beach, in an area of Texas we’ve never visited before. I am as surprised as you guys are, but we can spend the next three days pouting, or we can embrace this new agenda for spring break and enjoy it.”
Silence from the back end.
Tom returned to driving, in mostly silent conditions, until we arrived at our destination.
Surprisingly, I was adjusting to the idea of three more days away pretty well by the time we got to the condo. The kids were a work in progress. We spent a few minutes unloading our things, and making a grocery list before letting them know we’d be back shortly with food and a dinner plan. I think they both needed the time to work through the rest of their adjustment.
Needless to say, by the end of the third day we’d enjoyed a wonderful trip seeing sites and doing things we’d never have had the chance to do at home. The kids thoroughly enjoyed walking miles of the beach dodging jellyfish, trying out a boogie board, staying up late/sleeping in and eating at some new restaurants. Tom and I enjoyed every moment of the face-to-face conversation and watching them try new things!
On the way home (for real this time), I said, “Honey, I’m sorry we didn’t give you the initial reaction you wanted, but I’m so glad you did this for us. It was time very well spent and I know we’ve created some lasting memories.”
Life hands us surprises, choices, new ideas and experiences all the time. Sometimes it’s not as nice as a three-day extended vacation, but we always have a choice about how we respond to the offers that come our way. Here’s to embracing them and living in the moment!
Kim Muench is a married mother of five children living in Flower Mound. A certified parenting coach, her passion lies in supporting and encouraging parents of adolescents. To read more of her work, or to learn about her parenting program, go to www.realifeparentguide.com.