My darling husband has to work lots of extra hours this weekend, so we determined that this would be a lovely time for me to pack up the rugrats, put $7,000,000 worth of gas in the van, and visit my parents. Now that might seem like my husband was either anxious to get rid of me and the children or that he was eager for an excuse to not have to visit my parents, but neither is the case. My husband loves us. I know this because he puts up with us, asking in return only that we love him, give him coffee, and leave him alone when he’s reading in the bathroom (well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. He also asks that I make him pizza occasionally. And I am, of course, glad to oblige because, well, he says I’m pretty even though when I look in the mirror I know he’s a big crazy liar).
Anyway, amazingly enough, Art also gets along beautifully with my parents. I’m pretty sure that’s because they always take his side in any argument discussion, mostly just to get on my nerves. Also, my mom buys him donuts. What’s not to love?
Seriously, before Art and I started dating, when I would come home from college for the weekend I’d open the fridge and all that would be in there would be a stick of margarine and some soy sauce (stir fried margarine, anyone?). When I started bringing Art home with me, my mom turned into a grocery-buying fool. He mentioned that he liked pineapple juice, so we’d come and there’d be six cans of pineapple juice in the fridge. He told her once that he enjoyed frosted flakes, and the next time we came home there were three boxes in the cupboard. For him to eat. In two days. At the time I was grateful that my mom really seemed to like my boyfriend. Looking back, though, I’m pretty sure she was trying to send him a message. We know she’s needy and a spaz and, oh, by the way, five years from now she’s going to be diagnosed with arthritis and whatever sap marries her is going to spend the rest of his life snapping her bra for her, but HEY!!! Check it OUT!!! Pineapple juice! What a catch!!! You know you want to marry this one!!! Please? Pretty please? What if I throw in some frosted flakes and a box of apple fritters?
That’s right, folks. My dowry was a grocery bag filled with carbohydrates. And he fell for it. BAHAHAHAHA.
Anyway, the main reason I decided to come out to my folks’ house without my darling husband was that I hate being home on the weekends when he’s working. Basically, I’m needy and I require him to be there to help me deal with the snotballs children. So instead of staying home, feeling sorry for myself that I was alone all weekend whilst he worked and slept and worked on his presentation that is due on Tuesday (you are working on your presentation, right darling? hint, hint), I decided to bring the kids to my parents’ house so that they can help me deal with them.
Aren’t they just so lucky?
So after a very long day at work that involved me and several kindergarteners finding various and sundry ways to get on each other’s nerves, we loaded up the van, gave hugs and smooches, got on the interstate, and headed west.
Actually, before we technically started heading west, while we were in fact still heading south to get to the interstate, a crisis occurred. The thingamajiggie that seals the windshield came loose and started flopping around. Today in Iowa the wind was at approximately 3,000 mph, which meant that this long skinny piece of black plastic was blowing all over the place, banging on the windshield, and generally causing a great distraction as I attempted to drive in rush hour traffic. Okay, so it was Des Moines rush hour, but hey, I live in a small town, remember? We don’t have rush hour. We tried once but everyone got stuck behind a combine so we gave it up.
It was quite clear as the black seal whatchamahoozie was thumping around on my windshield that I was not going to make it all the way to Nebraska without doing Something Significant. I thought about stopping at a truck stop to see if they had windshield seal glue, but I’m scared of truck stops ever since I once saw a naughty magazine at one. I decided that I was not going to take my three-year-old and five-year-old sons into a truck stop to ask if they had windshield thingie glue, only to be interrupted by “Mommy, why is that lady doing that?”
No, my windshield crisis would require creativity, resourcefulness, and a severe lack of dignity. Thankfully, I have all three in great abundance. I stopped at a gas station, went inside, and came back out with the secret weapon of rednecks everywhere. Two minutes (and several rather odd looks from the “gentle”men who were smoking outside the Kum N Go) later, I had transformed our Grand Caravan into a Redneck Mobile with a long strip of duct tape along the edge of the windshield.
Whatever. At least the windshield whosamabobber didn’t break the windshield or go flying off and cause an accident. My van might look stupid but, well, it’s very possible that I am the Princess of Looking Stupid so I’m cool with that.
We finally got to I-80 and began our epic journey west. Due to the prevailing west wind and the high price of gas, I’m pretty sure the 120 mile trip cost me $8,000,000. But we made it with only one potty break, which is really a fairly miraculous thing when traveling with two short people.
We passed the windmill. We passed the Propeller That Makes The World Go Round. We got sick of the dumb music on the radio and entertained ourselves with rousing renditions of some of our favorite songs, like “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” and “On Top of Spaghetti.” After many miles we finally came to the Big Green Bridge, which is the last landmark before our arrival at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We sang “Only a Boy Named David,” “Zaccheus,” “Jesus Loves Me,” and “I Had a Little Turtle.” And then . . . finally . . . we were here.
There was joy. There were hugs and kisses and showing off of new tricks (Ryan can hop on one foot! Sam can jump really high!). There was the eating of apples and the drinking of chocolate milk. There were jammies and good night kisses and hugs and excuses and snuggling of stuffed animals and special blankies. Finally there were two little tired boys tucked into beds, dreaming of tomorrow’s fun.
I love being at my parents’ house. There are very few places in the world where I know I am safe and loved and accepted unconditionally, and this is one of them. I love sitting with my dad and solving the world’s problems, or at least griping about them, and I love listening to my mom’s latest Adventures in Public Education. (Seriously y’all. You think I’m funny? I mean, I am funny, at least I think I’m funny, but it is only because I learned from a master. My mom is a riot. And my dad is pretty stinking funny too.)
Someday I hope that my sons will be as glad to come home to me as I am glad to come home to my parents. I hope that their wives will feel comfortable and loved in our home. I hope that grandma and grandpa’s house will be a place of wonderful memories for my grandkids, like I know it is for my children.
To my future daughters-in-law, tell me your favorite foods and I will gladly stock my kitchen. Even after you’re married. Because you know what happened, don’t you? Once that wedding band was on his finger, once he had been roped into this family for better or for worse and all that, my husband stopped being the Favored One on my mom’s list. She had moved on, first trying to catch my sister a man, and then, shortly after that, spoiling grandbabies. Maybe she was afraid if she kept buying Art donuts, he would never leave. Maybe she’s right, I don’t know.
I do know this. This family– this is a good family. It sucks you in and loves you and spoils you and laughs at you and with you and then sends you out into the world better than you were.
There’s no place like home.