Flight is easier for some than others. Birds have wings, hang-gliders have wind, and I have a Southwest Airlines dependency. As I packed our suitcases for the most ambitious part of our trip (three cities in one week, four flights, and no Jeff:/), I felt like a mama bird about to lead my brood out into the wild…it was where we should go, but it would not be an easy journey. It is in my nature to go the distance to be with my people, just as it is in the nature of geese to fly south, ducks to love water, and penguins to waddle. And so flying from Washington to Idaho to Texas felt natural, because there were best friends to see, babies to meet, and long talks waiting to be had.
Of course, it is not just about me. I have two little girls who also get packed along for the journey…most of the time, where I go, they go. So I have to make sure that these trips we take will be worth the risk that (God forbid) they get sick from someone on the plane (we wash our hands A LOT) or they lose sleep because naps are missed or new bedrooms don’t have bright enough night lights. I am, in this season, a mama first. And the truth is, I like having them with me, despite how challenging it can be to travel. Those two little girls are my job and my delight, my privilege and my most volatile asset. And so, as we travel the country to reconnect with some of the most important people in my life, I make sure the snacks are in abundance, the coloring books are primed, and that I’m ready when my tired kids need extra snuggles at bedtime. My motivation is simple: my best friends love my kids and these friend-family reunions are the richest of days. I make these trips because it is good for all of us. That my girls have tias (and an Aunt KC Mom) who have been my tribe for decades will root them in friendship in the future. What my chosen family may lack in proximity we make up for in years and years of commitment and laughter. Exactly no beats are missed when we reunite and it is always worth the effort. And so I will continue to fly with my little ones, praying one will nap and the other will chill, and sweating through those moments when they don’t.
But things look different for every mama bird. Some raise their kids in one home in one town and rarely leave, and I can see the beauty in that. In truth, I envy that kind of stability and simplicity. But just like the penguins can’t become the sparrows, even if life in a nest seems divine, I can’t be someone I’m not. While I can learn from and appreciate how other folks do life, I have to remember that we are doing our best in our unique and beautiful messy life and that different seasons will bring different things. I recently sat on the front porch of a lovely farmhouse in Oregon watching kids play in a small pasture bathed in sunshine and I realized how ready I am for a simpler life. And God willing, it will come. We aren’t there yet, but we are aiming our family towards it, intentionally choosing what is simple and good over what might be grand and prestigious.
We were watching Planet Earth recently and the way birds manage the challenges of life in nature is astounding. Some live among nothing but cacti and manage to take care of their babies while avoiding being speared or snared by the perils of their environment. Others travel for a full day to hunt for a meal only to make the return trip, feed the chicks and do it all again. I was reminded how harsh and unforgiving nature is, but also how universal the love of a parent is. Whether instinct or emotion drives us, there is no end to the lengths we will go for our little ones. In my case, there also seems to be no end to the length I will take my children. I hope someday they look back on all these trips and are glad for the crazy start we gave them. I know I’ll always be thankful for these times and am doing my best to savor them while they’re here. As they say, the flights are long but the visits are short, or something like that;). Love!