When you were very young, we used to drive to Texas every summer.
With your cousins and your grandma.
Without your dad.
I’m sure you remember those road trips well. Destruction on wheels, I think it was.
The first time we did this, Julia wasn’t even born yet. I think I had four little girls under the age of 8 in my car (Kate, Caroline, Kira, and Paige). (With Grandma. I don’t want to discount her—she was a huge help.)
I do remember a few trips that got a little hairy, but overall, I was really glad we made them. It was one of the few times I could see my sister every year, so it was worth it to pack you guys up, strap you into car seats, load you up with books and snacks and anything else that might help keep you quiet. This was, after all, in the years before we had a DVD player in our car.
Funny thing was, when I would tell people that I was driving my three very young girls (and sometimes their cousins and grandmother) all the way to Texas—by myself!—people looked at me like I was crazy.
“Why would you do that?” they would ask. Like they’ve never imagined doing . . . anything.
Others would simply say, “I would never do that.” Like I was crazy or something.
Over Thanksgiving I had to make the trip by myself again. (And, well, with the three of you.) No Dad.
Now, granted, you are all much older and much more well-behaved in the car than you used to be. And you could help me out with the driving.
[May I just stop here and say that back then, in the mid-90s, I could never, ever begin to imagine the day when you girls would help me with the driving. How did I get here?]
Even before we left for Thanksgiving, knowing that your dad wasn’t driving home with us, I dreaded the trip with every fiber of my being. But the point is, I didn’t let the daunting trip stop me. It was too important to me. To all of us.
And I think there’s a lesson here.
Yes, Texas is a LONG drive from Chicago (16 hours back when you were little). And, yes, it’s HARD to take three little girls on a road trip that long by myself. And, yes, sometimes I didn’t want to do it.
But in the end, I was so glad I did it because the reward of being with family was so worth it.
My dear girls, is there something in your life that you want really badly? Maybe it’s a job. Maybe it’s an experience. Maybe it’s just to get through whatever difficulty you’re going through right now.
Whatever you want, here’s what I have to say: Go for it.
Don’t let the doubts of others stop you.
Don’t let your own doubts stop you either.
And certainly don’t let the anticipation of a long, hard journey stop you.
Because those naysayers? They’re just life-suckers, out to suck the joy or the fun or the adventure out of your life because they don’t have any in their own.
Don’t listen to them.
Just put one foot in front of the other, take it one step at a time (or one mile at a time, to continue the analogy), and you will get there.
I guess if I were to sum it up in one word, I would say: persevere.
One day, after lots of your own small—and large—accomplishments, you’ll look back and see that you were in the driver’s seat all along.
I was just the navigator cheering you on.