Spring Break here in Overland Park took place from March 8th-March 16th and I took the opportunity to take my kids on a driving trip all over the southwestern United States.  Due to a certain obsession with the East Coast of the US that certain member of our family has, eastern Kansas is probably as far west as we’ll ever live and I thought I should take this opportunity to show my kids some of the sights in this great country of ours.  So I made room reservations using a ton of Marriott points, rented a big SUV from Hertz and at 0500 hours on March the 8th, I hit the road with my daughter (and two of her friends to keep her company) and my twin sons.  We spent the first night in Glenwood Springs, CO, a place I hadn’t been to since I was a senior at the USAF Academy long, long ago.  It was a 12-hour drive to get there and as I had hoped, as we hit the mountains of Colorado just west of Denver, the kids’ jaws dropped and their eyes were agape.  They swam in the hot springs at Glenwood that night and the next morning we hit the road to Las Vegas, ending the day with a tour of Nellis Air Force Base where I attended Fighter Weapons School in 1989.  There were airplanes on pedestals everywhere that the kids could see and touch.  They saw the Hoover Dam the next morning and the Pacific Ocean the next night and in the course of the next several days we did the USS Midway and Coronado Beach at San Diego, Santa Monica, the Grand Canyon, Durango, CO and finally back to Kansas via Colorado Springs.  There was no whining in the car, no “are we there yet,” just wonder, laughter and companionship.

So, would you like to know that part of the trip I liked the best?  Sure the sights were beautiful and yes, like any parent, I enjoyed the kids’ wonder as they took in the sights for the first time.  But that wasn’t the best part for me.  The best part for me was much more sublime.  For over a week, I got to spend time with my two sons in a hotel room and listen to them breathe as they slept.  They’re 11 and 1/2 now and obviously have their own room so that’s not a sound I get to hear often, but for that period of time, we shared a room and I got to see them sleep and hear them breathe.  Your forget what that’s like as your kids get older.  You forget they were once little, once helpless little creatures that were totally dependent on you.  But hearing them breathe reminded me of that earlier time and increased my gratitude to God for the gift that children are.  It also helped me to realign myself once again on the things in life that really matter.  Sometimes, I lose my focus and forget what’s important.  I obsess with work issues or PhD studies or writing deadlines.   But not this last week.  This last week I got to listen to them breathe and I got to be gently reminded, night after night, that nothing is as important as they are and I found myself both smiling and tearing up at the same time.  I found myself not wanting vacation to end.

So was the vacation restful?  For my body, no.  For my soul, more than I ever imagined.  Now I can’t wait until next year.

Sweet dreams guys and thanks for reminding your dad about his priorities.  He needs that from time to time.