The more I experience life as a wife, mother, sister, friend, and professional, the more I realize I’m clueless. Really clueless. As in, everything I thought I knew – and I thought I knew a lot – is challenged on a daily basis and I rediscover, for the umpteenth time, that when it comes to life experience, I’m a noob.
Growing up, I was the kid that wanted to sit with the adults and talk while my cousins rolled down hillsides and played with bubbles outside. I’ve long preferred the company of older, wiser adults to the company of peers. Even as an adult, I gravitate towards reading blogs and following social media streams of wives and moms who are older than me and further along their paths of marriage and family. I love to see their challenges and learn how they have grown from them, emotionally and spiritually. To see how they have navigated life crises and struggles, and hopefully learn from them as I encounter similiar waters in the not-so-distant future.
This past weekend, I made the decision to take my three girls on a five-hour road trip to visit my great-aunt in Morgan City, Louisiana. We left HH and Superman here in Houston for A Weekend to do Manly Things.
I decided to take this trip because I have been doing a lot of thinking about how generations from the past learned basic life skills and relationship counseling from older family members and friends. In other words, they sought wisdom from those who had already experienced many of the same things they were currently going through. I know this sounds simplistic, but hear me out. We are living in a world where everything is Googleable, from “how soon should I give my baby solids?” to “what do I do if my spouse and I fight over money.” We look up YouTube videos to learn to sew a button, knit a sweater, frost a cake, and change a tire. Of course, sometimes these things really are best illustrated with the help of modern technology. And sometimes, non-experts don’t give the best advice, like the time an older family member fed my two month old applesauce. Clearly, some guidelines from a doctor would be better when it comes to recommended ages for feeding babies solid foods.
But when did the internet become not only our first, but largely only, reference library? Superman and I have recently been working through some relatively minor issues in our marriage, and for the first time in a very long time, my first instinct wasn’t to find a book or a website to walk me through the conflict resolution. My first thought was to call my widowed grandmother, who had been married to my grandfather for almost 50 years when he died. He was a man with a good heart, but he was an alcoholic. Surely my grandma could give me advice on how she coped with that, every day of her marriage? This really got me thinking about how families in general are spread out all over the country, and thus no one is really “around” to ask these types of questions. And so we look to the internet for answers. Why not grandma? Why not the neighbor lady who raised three kids? Why not the grizzled war veteran?
In an effort to begin to rewire my brain (and those of my kiddos) when it comes to some types of problem-solving, I decided some one-on-one time with some wiser individuals might really benefit our family. Thus, the idea for “Girls’ Weekend at Aunt Judy’s” was born. I called her, pitched my idea, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that she really loved the plan. I told her I wanted to bring the girls to spend some time with positive family members who were older and wiser – family members who had some knowledge, skills, and memories to share with us. The weekend was far, far more fruitful than I could’ve ever imagined or hoped for. Some of the highlights…
First stop? Jesus in the Adoration Chapel at our parish church. The Holy Spirit nudged me to stop in on the way out of town to ask Jesus to protect us and grow closer to Him over the weekend. We awere running a bit behind schedule when we left the house, so I was tempted to skip the stop, but I decided this would be a great tradition to institute, and there’s no time like the present! As it turns out, we arrived right at 6:30am, which was exactly when a small group of folks gather in the Chapel to pray Morning Prayer of the Divine Office. PERFECT start to the day! As we exited the Chapel and headed back to the car, we saw a parishioner walking her dog. The girls enjoyed the few minutes that I allowed them to play with and pet our new furry friend, and it was in that moment that I realized this weekend should be about drinking in the experiences as they happen. I silently resolved not to say “Not right now,” “Come on, hurry up,” or “Let’s GO, girls!” all weekend. I’m proud to say I didn’t!
We stopped several times on the way there, including once at a rest stop which had a playground. I let the girls run and slide for at least 15 minutes, something I’d have never done without my new resolution to let them drink in each experience. Once we arrived at our destination, Therese immediately began exploring the backyard.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Marie were being kept busy by a Photo Scavenger Hunt that their great grand-aunt had prepared for them. They were racing against the clock, and each other, to find each of these items. And the fun twist she added? They had to take a selfie with each item! I have never heard so many squeals of excitement!
We baked a cake, and Marie got to use the hand mixer for the first time.
Therese stayed busy coloring in her coloring book and on her new backpack, a gift from Aunt Judy
We attended Mass and spent time walking the church grounds, admiring this beautiful Grotto
We went through old photographs and shared family stories, most of which were about older generations long since passed, and which I’d never heard before. To round out a perfect weekend, Aunt Judy presented the girls with leotards and tutus, and gave them their very first ballet lesson.