By Guest Blogger Alyssa Tabacca, author of Driving the Big Van
As a college football coach’s wife, I think it necessary to categorize my year into seasons. A lot of how we live our day-to-day life changes based on the season we are in…and it just so happens that summer, and hubby’s stretch of a few weeks off, is immediately followed by the intensity of all day football that we know as “Fall Camp.” The drastic contrast between spending every waking moment together to seeing each other late nights and via FaceTime leads to a stark contrast in how we spend our days. It just so happens that “real” summer and our summer are not the same length and so the kids have a few more weeks of summer vacation that fall during the Daddy-free Fall Camp weeks. It’s all Mama, all the time.
I think it’s important to be honest about who you are and who you are not. If you spend your whole life pretending that you enjoy doing things you don’t enjoy, I think you may miss out on the opportunity, especially as a parent, to model real joy. That being said, I also think there is very real value in stretching yourself beyond just the comfort of the activities you love most. I am a stay at home mom. I mean that in two ways. I literally am a mother who has stepped away from her career to spend her days at home with her children. I also mean that I am a person who enjoys staying in my home. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy adventure and vacation and new places, but it does mean that all of those things stretch me outside of my comfort zone in a big way.
I married my best friend fresh out of college. We started dating during my sophomore year, and we were both so young that we had the beautiful opportunity of literally growing up together. We have both changed a lot since our college days, and we have grown into not only being best friends but being a support system for each other as we branch out in our lives and grow to new things. I say all of this because my husband is NOT a stay at home guy. He doesn’t sit still much. He loves a grand adventure. He has taught me to look forward to trying something new rather than spending so much energy on the anxiety building up to it that, even if it’s incredible, the scales don’t quite end up balancing out as a positive. When he is with me I don’t struggle with this much anymore. But football season.
Football season stretches me in a different way. I don’t love stepping out into the world with my five kiddos on my own. I worry about the ways it could be stressful or complicated or hard, and then I decide to just stay home and avoid the chaos. Except I have at least 4 children who are built for adventure like my hubby. If I say “what do you want to do today?” I really mean “what game can we play at home or would you prefer to go out…into our yard?” They immediately start suggesting places to go and explore. Logistically this has gotten easier as my kids have gotten older, but the reality is that there are some places, many places, that are hard to navigate as a group of 6. We love shopping local, but walk into a boutique with even the 5 best behaved children and shop owners get nervous. Or at least I am nervous on their behalf. So every once in a while I try to set myself up for an adventure I can handle. A mom adventure. Adventure-light you might say.
Yesterday was one of those days. Maybe it was because the coaching staff had the morning off for church, so I got to see my husband for two hours to fuel up my bravery. Maybe it was because we had spent the full week decluttering our house and, after a full Big Van run to the donation drop off, our work was at least at a good place to pause and venture outside of these walls. Maybe it was just the promise of tacos. Whatever the reason when I saw that a Taco Truck was coming to our pool for dinner I decided to brave the unknown. Those of you who love food trucks probably haven’t attempted ordering for 5 kids from an unknown menu while a line of hungry people stands behind you. We have avoided food trucks in the past. But I figured tacos and burritos are pretty delightful to everyone, so it was worth the risk.
Now credit is due here to my wonderful neighbors, the Millers, who braved the pool and food truck with us despite having driven home from their vacation that day. I needed to know that the pool was going to have an adult for me to talk to. But we arrived at the pool and got a good 45 minutes of swimming in before the Taco Truck pulled up. Now I had heard that the line could get long, so my plan was to get in line early and start ordering. This was not my first rodeo, so I knew well enough to give my children limited choices and take orders and then leave them behind to play tennis while I got our food ordered. The girls were not feeling adventurous and so I had 4 orders for cheese quesadillas. Lucas is my big eater, and my food twin, so we ordered chicken burritos (which would prove to be a fabulous decision, by the way) and I went on to wait in line.
At this point the sky looked a little ominous. The gray clouds were settling in over the pool. I tried to stay positive (“oh, it will probably pass quickly) but the clouds looked committed to their spot. I soon realized that I was going to have 6 plates of food to carry back across the parking lot, through the gate, and in to find my children. Fortunately, Lucas’s appetite was less patient than the line and when he checked in on food status I sent him to get his sister to help carry plates. A raindrop fell.
As my two biggest kids got to my side our plates of food were coming out of the truck window. Perfect timing. We started walking to our seats…and the skies opened up! We ran. (On the pool deck! I know! I spent my teen years as a lifeguard. I would have totally blown a whistle at us…but we had to preserve our burritos!) We piled onto pool lounges close to our friends under an overhang and ate our delicious food as the rain began to POUR. Since it was just rain, the kids were able to eat and then jump back into the pool for a little post-dinner swimming. And then the thunder happened. My kids do not love storms. And my littlest one HATES them. So they were out of the pool, in their shoes, holding all our things, ready to make our way through the downpour to the Big Van within about 30 seconds. We yelled goodbye to our friends, and headed through the parking lot, by the time we made it into the van the rain had slowed down a little, and we decided it was a good night for brownies and ice cream at home. As we laughed about our soggy adventure, Lucas looked over and said “Hey! At least you have something to blog about!” So when we pulled into the driveway we snapped a quick selfie of our soaking wet, quesadilla-filled, selves.
It was an adventure that all took place within a mile of our home. It was cut short by weather. But there were my 5 beautiful kiddos laughing and smiling and thanking me for such a great day. I said a quick silent thank you, too. To my husband, who is teaching me to try new things, to see fun and opportunity in the day-to-day, and to step outside my comfort zone. Especially in pursuit of tacos.
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