Your children need your presence more than your presents. ~Jesse Jackson
It started early in January of 1999 when my first son was a couple of weeks old. I had learned to change diapers from the hospital nurses, and I’d mastered the art of the midnight change. And somewhere in the midst of the sleep, alone-time, and shower deprivation, I realized it all was going way too fast. My son was growing, eating, thriving — all things he was supposed to be doing — and yet I yearned for a way to pause it, to soak in his first attempts at smiles, the smells and the feel of his tiny grasp on mine. Time still marched onward.
I count myself lucky. I’ve gotten to be around for the first teeth, the first loose tooth, the first bicycle ride, the first day of preschool, kindergarten, middle, and even high school.
And now my first son, about to start his 10th grade year of high school, is taking SAT and driver’s training classes. He’s several inches taller than me (and I’m 5’11”). And he’s working hard and spreading his wings.
He’s doing just what he’s supposed to be doing: he’s growing up.
The Mom-Son Road Trip
I think there is a magical opportunity at 15 years of age when a teenager can’t quite drive on their own yet, but has begun to focus on specific interests. After listening to others who have experience and opinions about doing the same type of trip with their children, fifteen-years-of-age seems to be the perfect time.
Our family enjoys having family dinners around a big table, every night we can. Sometimes we talk about where we’d like to travel next. My oldest son, for the past year, has repeatedly expressed interest in seeing California. And I credit my husband for latching onto that nugget, and especially for encouraging me to take that trip with our oldest son.
Where did he want to go? California. And so, with a couple of frequent flyer plane tickets and hotel stays in hand, we made that trip come true last week.
Truly, it was amazing. We drove oodles of miles (LA – Monterey / Salinas – San Francisco / Sausalito – Los Angeles – San Diego / Coronado) and dipped our toes into as many beaches, sands, and places along the Pacific as we could. But most of all, we were there, together.
The memories will last a lifetime.
I am so grateful.
3 Reasons Why I’m Making the Mom – 15yo Son Road Trip a Family Tradition:
1. To slow down the clock. My boys are growing up too fast.
2. To seize the opportunity to step out of time and routine.
We must take adventures to know where our hearts truly belong. We must take adventures together to know who holds our hearts.
3. To go someplace / travel somewhere he’s never been, show him a world beyond what he knows and make memories for a lifetime.
My other two younger sons may choose to go tent camping beside the local river (entirely possible!), and that’s okay. I think the most important part of the entire experience is to actually BE THERE. To stop time and do something special, beyond the normal everyday, beyond sports trips or family trips or other reasons to go someplace, and to actually go where they want. That is presence.
I feel it deeply, but this is one thing I’ve done in my life that by the end, I know I will look back and smile upon. It’s one of the most important things I’ve done in my life: the Mom-15yo Son Road Trip.
It was the best possible gift — time together with my son. Unforgettable. Priceless. I’m grateful.