When each of my children entered first grade, or going school all day, I took them on a special one-on-one trip to Washington DC. The trip was meant to mark the milestone of them growing up. For me it was meant to mark the moment they transitioned from under my care to out into the world’s care. It was a tradition I hoped to continue as the marked the transition into middle school and then high school. When middle school came, life was just too busy. I didn’t get around to planning anything.
This summer was the summer my oldest prepared to enter High School. I decided we needed a trip. Only I made this decision at the very the last minute.
The truth was I was too busy leading a youth sports group to do any planning ahead. So busy, in fact, that I ignored my family for most of March through July. Looking back, I regret that I allowed myself to put the needs of other people’s kid before my own. But the reality is, I have a hard time committing to things and then not doing my best. Everything that is, except keeping up on the relationships inside my house. I struggled leading this group, which wanted to go in a very different direction than I wanted to lead. I had dreams of boys with high integrity. I had dreams of a place where anyone, regardless of ability could belong. My ideas were naive at best and by the end of the summer, I was exhausted from trying to convince everyone I was right in the direction I wanted to go.
So this trip, although it seemed like a perfect excuse to celebrate my oldest, was also to get the heck out of Dodge. I needed to escape. To get far, far away from my life. I needed time to ground myself back into who I am. I needed to connect with the person who gave me my most important job, my son, before he is gone to far into his own life. What better place to do those things than Alaska?
I had two weeks to plan a trip to Alaska in August, the height of tourist season. Everything my adventurous 14 year old wanted to do was already booked. Bottom line, he wanted to see a glacier and not a bear. He wanted to have fun and not be bored. I did not want to disappoint. The expectations were low, but we were excited anyway. It was Alaska.
I could write a novel about the trip. But what the trip really ended up being was an adventure back to each other, learning to trust one another again. These next four years will rely on that trust. In the mountains and inlets of Alaska, we had the time and distance from all of the hustle and bustle of life to find a way back to trusting each other. Whatever got us there, I am grateful we went.