It started off like any other day: wake up, change diapers, make bottles and breakfast, get everyone dressed and out the door. But on Wednesday, instead of heading off to work or school or to a doctor’s appointment we went a little further — Pennsylvania.
My father had recently suffered a stroke and despite his assurances that he was “fine” and there was no need for me to visit, I knew I wouldn’t feel better until I laid eyes on him. With my father-in-law also in the hospital, my husband wouldn’t be able to join me.
As I pulled out of the driveway and set my GPS, I began to realize just exactly what I was undertaking: a 10-hour road trip. With a 6-month-old and a 4-year-old. Alone.
I started off strong. Kids were strapped safely in their car-seats, swinging their legs and happily gazing out the window. I had the radio cranked up, the windows rolled down and a 12-pack of diet Mountain Dew in the passenger seat. The plan was to drive straight through — 605 miles door to door.
I can do this. I am Superwoman.
The first thing that became obvious was that there was simply no way we were going to make the entire drive in a day. I was lucky if I could make it 70 miles without having to stop for one reason or another: Ben needed to stretch his legs, Sam needed a bottle or a diaper change, Ben dropped his toy and couldn’t reach the floorboards from his car-seat …
With no co-pilot, I was constantly having to pull off the highway to resolve issues that could have easily been handled by an extra set of hands. I laughed at my GPS’s overly optimistic declaration that we would arrive at “10:37 p.m.” that night.
By the time we reached the Tennessee line, the novelty of “going on a trip with Mommy” had worn off and the boys had had enough of the car. It was time to deploy my secret weapon: the portable DVD player. I strapped the screen to the back of the passenger seat headrest and popped in Ben’s current favorite movie: “Olaf” —better known as Frozen.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you are most likely familiar with Disney’s adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson classic The Snow Queen.
I know I am.
In fact, I can now recite the entire movie verbatim — songs included.
By the time we reached West Virginia, I had heard the movie in its entirety no less than four times. I called it a night and checked us into a hotel.
Come Thursday morning, we only had 200 miles to go so we made it to my dad’s house well before lunch. We all had a lovely (if brief) visit but had to head back home on Saturday morning.
The thing about a “secret weapon” is that once it’s been used, it’s out there. There’s no hiding it again. Ben knew his movie was in the car and we weren’t even out of my Dad’s driveway before he started demanding I turn it on.
Frozen played on a continuous loop until we reached our stopping point for the night in Bristol. By then, I was singing along with every song and had long since reached the conclusion that the next Disney Princess seriously needs to be an alto.
We made it home early Sunday morning but, days later, the Frozen soundtrack continues to play in my head and I have a strange desire to wear my hair in braids and own a reindeer named “Sven.”
In the end, as tough as the drive was, I don’t regret it. It was an intimidating (and quite possibly foolish) notion to try and drive across the country by myself, with a toddler and a baby — but I did it. It was a serious boost in confidence for my parenting skills — and one that I didn’t realize, until after it was all over, that I needed.
But if I never see Frozen again, it’ll still be too soon.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.