But this trip, you see, was a little different from ones past.
I should have known we were in for it when we loaded up our car (an hour and 1/2 past the appointed departure time), cranked the key to start the engine... and nothing happened. It was just a dead battery, quickly resolved with a couple jumper cables, but it was also a sign of things to come.
It wasn't the best trip we've ever had.
This time, obviously, we had two kids, at the not-so-easy ages of 3 and 11 months. But having an extra kid didn't make things twice as hard; it made things 5-10 times harder. No joke.
We had debated for a couple days over whether to take Selah at all. My mom had offered to keep her so we could have a little more freedom, but in the end, we opted to take her along... a decision we soon questioned :-S
Don't get me wrong. There were highlights to our trip. The good moments I captured in pictures. The bad ones I'm still trying to forget...
Like when Selah threw one of her all-out, I-want-to-bang-my-head-on-something-hard fits in public, or when she pooped all over herself and her only set of clothes as we were about to enter a show at Silver Dollar City, or when Tyler and I were ready to bite each other's heads off because the stress level was just too high...
What, you thought our family was perfect?
No... sometimes pictures lie.
Then, after a long, more-than-exhausting day at an amusement park with babies, we went back to our hotel room and slept for 12 hours straight with no disturbances and woke up extremely well rested.
Ha! You know better, right?
Selah woke everyone up bright and too early; we were all still a little cranky; and then we went outside to find our car with a FLAT TIRE. Yes, really.
It's a long story, but we proceeded to spend half the day waiting on a service man and the guy at the Walmart Tire and Lube. By the time it was said, done and fixed, it was too late to do much of anything else. We ate a late lunch (which was enjoyable) and finally, headed home.
On our drive home, I scrolled through my Instagram feed and came across a couple photos of a friend of mine from a few days earlier. She too had just visited Silver Dollar City with her husband. They are kidless, and (honesty alert)... I was a little envious of her photos. They hugged each other amidst the beautiful tapestry of Christmas lights... they smiled, genuinely enjoying their time together.
I remembered those kind of days... but there I was, barely speaking to my husband and listening to Little Rascals play in the back seat for the hundredth time in two days.
It wasn't something to Instagram.
Things are harder now. Everything is a production. Everything is chaotic. And very, very rarely do we have a romantic moment. Looking at my friend's pictures, I found myself honestly missing the days when we were that couple. Not missing them in an "I'd trade it for what we have" kind of way, but missing them in an "I'd like to go back for a week -- heck -- a weekend" kind of way.
But I suppose every mom and dad have those moments, those thoughts. We're often just scared to admit it.
When those feelings surge in me -- feeling overwhelmed or deprived -- I think back to our newlywed days. I've got three years' worth of "just me and him" memories that give me fuel to keep on going. Meanwhile, I know I need to cherish every second my daughters live at home. I need to squeeze every drop of laughter and kisses and quality time out of the years we've been given. Because one of these days, it will be just me and the husband again. And though I'm sure our Branson trips will include more peace and less stress... they also won't include faces like this. And I don't think that's an even trade.