The Council Family grocery go-getter was packed to the gills as we headed to the Appalachian Mountains for a family vacation.
We were less than a quarter mile from our driveway when Baby Belle 1 asked, “Are we there yet?”
The problem was that Baby Belle 1 wasn’t remotely kidding. She was as serious as a heart attack. I thought to myself: Oh goody! Only five hours and fifty-nine minutes to go!
Dawson Street: “Are we there yet?”
Cape Fear Memorial Bridge: “Are we there yet?”
Leland: “Are we there yet?”
Every town, county line and numerous times in between: “Are we there yet?”
I think it was about the 536th arewethereyet when I said, “Yeah. Get out of the car.”
She didn’t get out of the car.
My parents love to travel and my brother and I got to go on a lot of their trips when we were growing up. Consequently, Ethan and I were trained in ways similar to the teaching I envision for those newbies in the Witness Protection Program: Only pack what you can carry and you better pack it fast. When it was time move out, there was zero tolerance for stragglers. The whole point of having two kids was to have one extra if you have to cut bait because somebody can’t keep up with the marching line at Chicago O’Hare.
No, I don’t believe Ethan and I ever asked whether or not we were there yet.
Before the Baby Belles, Scott and I were known to pack up and go on a whim. We didn’t go a whole lot, but sometimes knowing that that you can do something is plenty sufficient. There’s nothing like throwing a couple of bags in the car and heading off for the sunset.
Then came Baby Belle 1: We didn’t even try to pack up and go anywhere for quite a while. The sheer magnitude of the perceived task was deterrent enough. When we finally bit the bullet, we all but needed a shoehorn to get actual people into the car. The real irony was that we only used a fraction of what we packed and we really needed a lot of the stuff we’d left at home.
Over the years, we got a bit better at packing our three person family. As a matter of fact, we were so good at packing that I got pregnant again because we needed the challenge. (Kindly take a moment and notice the dripping sarcasm.)
When Baby Belle 2 made her entrance—good Lord have mercy. The family Jeep competently handled the giant piles of crap that we were now used to packing as parents, but two babies...well, we considered renting a U-Haul. We weren’t even halfway to our destination on our first trip when Scott looked over to me and said, “This isn’t going to work.”
I have all the respect in the world for folks that are brave enough to drive mini-vans and Scott might have done it, but I couldn’t go there. Instead, we got one of those enormous, gas sucking monsters that takes a running jump to get into and a rope to rapel out of. Scott drives in the west wing, I usually sit in the east wing unless the Baby Belles need me for something in the south wing. Of course, now that there are movies and cartoons playing 24/7 on the dual screens in the south wing, a parental presence isn’t usually required and that’s a good thing because it’s positively exhausting to walk all the way back there.
On this particular vacation, a whole new element was added to the experience: Carsickness. As we approached Lake Lure and negotiated the perilous and snaky roads toward our final destination, Baby Belle 1’s voice came weakly from the back seat, “I don’t feel so good. My tummy feels sick.”
It didn’t get any better.
As the week progressed, Baby Belle 2 got carsick and yakked all over a quaint little quilting shop outside of Chimney Rock. Before and after the aforementioned pleasant experience, I got queasy a couple of times myself and insisted on taking over the driving responsibility. Guess what? Scott got carsick on the way to our Biltmore excursion.
Yep, it’s a whole new era for the Councils. What’s the silver lining? Well, I can sleep comfortably at night in the knowledge that the Baby Belles could never hack running off and joining the traveling circus.