One of the most exciting parts of my job with the SOAR team is the opportunity to travel to parts of the country I would otherwise never get a chance to visit. So when a trip to the Stonewall Resort in the mountains of West Virginia came up, I had the fantastic idea (cue sarcasm) to see if my husband could get the week off and join me with the kids. For those who don’t know, I have three daughters. Harper was 4 at the time, Dylan 3, and Sloane 1. Fast forward about a month, and the Starkey family was off on our first big family road trip. The weather was perfect, and the scenery was beautiful for the drive from Michigan to West Virginia. We arrived at the hotel 8 hours later and were blown away with the gorgeous setting. We got settled into our room, then left to explore. It was extremely hot and humid in mid-August West Virginia, but our kids didn’t mind. We walked the nature trails around the lake until dinner time. Despite the heat, we enjoyed a scenic dinner on the patio while our children ran around and made friends with every guest in a 100-foot radius. And then it was time to go back to our room and get settled in for the night…or so we thought.
Cue the tears, and tantrums, and pleading parents who just wanted their children to go to sleep because “mommy has to work in the morning.” The seemingly endless cycle of tantrums went on until about 1:00 a.m., with a minor head injury for the baby who ran into the corner of our hotel room’s dresser. At 6:00 a.m. the next morning everyone was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for another day of adventure. While Chad took the kids down to explore and eat breakfast, I caught up on emails and prepared for the SOAR training presentation. Pam Heine and I had a great time training future SOAR providers and enjoyed a nice lunch with my family. The next two and a half days went similarly, facilitating a SOAR training in the mornings and afternoons and a lunch break with the kids at noon. In the evenings Chad and I took turns taking the older girls to the pool and trying to get the baby to fall asleep in our room. Spoiler alert, it never worked. By the end of the trip, we were utterly exhausted. While it was really nice to get to spend some extra time with my family, I learned a valuable lesson about bringing three toddlers along for work travel. Sometimes it’s better just to leave them home! Three months later, and my older girls still rave about the trip and how much fun they had with Ms. Pam. It’s funny how kids have a way of reminding us to see the good in all situations. While I viewed the trip as a frustrating experience in parenting, they remember how much fun they had on their big “abenture” to West Virginia. Maybe we’ll try this again in 10 years.