We just did an overnight trip to Waco, Texas. The girls wanted to check out Magnolia Market and I was anxious to show them all the fun things I had discovered to do in Waco a few months ago. I wanted to take this trip before it got too hot outside and before Nathan left the country again. Plus the last week of school and the first week of summer caught me off guard with their antics, and I really needed to get away for a minute and breathe deeply.
There was only one problem: My son wasn’t here to go with us on this spontaneous little trip. Being home without him is one thing, but posing ourselves to the world as a family of four is a whole different deal.
I knew if we waited until he could go, we wouldn’t get to. I knew that he was in Chicago on a trip with his high school band at museums and cruising on Lake Michigan. He didn’t need me to feel sorry for him and no mom-guilt could be justified here. Yet still, this would be our first time to plan a trip without him.
We were able to experience the convenience that comes with being a family of four. I bought a Groupon for four, and it was enough. We didn’t need to make an extra sleeping spot in the hotel room. We fit neatly in a restaurant booth. Hey! There were some great things here about being a family of four.
But still, as I made the sandwiches that morning for our picnic lunch, I found myself wanting to include Sam in the food count. About that moment, I got a text from him saying “Hey mom. Good morning.” And I almost teared up, because I remembered he wasn’t coming with us. The back seat of the van would be empty. This was the stage of life I was heading into.
We looked like a cute little family of four. Watching the girls with their dad was especially sweet to me on this trip. He is such a good girl dad, and he slips into that mode so well when our boy is gone. He carries purses. He lets us stay longer. He accommodates wardrobe changes between biking and shopping. He waits patiently by the van while it inevitably takes at least one of us a few extra minutes to get ourselves prepared and out of the vehicle. He calls everyone “princess” and “muffin” and makes us feel like his treasures.
This weekend I relaxed and enjoyed my people, but there were moments where I missed that boy and wished he could have seen some certain thing that I knew he would have loved. I assume that those moments will happen forever for my whole life. And over time, we will make these transitions and leave behind one older kid at a time. Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll be a little more comfortable posing as a family of four. Probably just at the time we’ll start posing as a family of three instead.