When Intentional Parenting Kinda Sucks

Alternate Title: Go On Road Trips, They Said! It’s Fun, They Said!

I thought I should check in with the ‘lists‘ we made of how we wanted to parent our kids. We set some clear ideas on things we wanted to do from the mundane to the epic. We wrote out qualities we wanted our kids to develop. There were even lists we wrote for our own dreams and goals. Then we high-fived, YAY US! We are all intentional and shit!

Sometimes those ‘things’ and ‘intentions’ kind of suck to put into progress. 

For me, my least favourite addition to the list is Road Trips. 

I try to act all cool and nomadic. ‘Oh look at us! Road tripping like we don’t give an F about our garden going unwatered! Our kids can see the world, have life changing experiences, blah, blah, blah.’  

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE road trips….without kids. With our kids, though, it is a special form of torture that only three toddlers in confined quarters can alter into their own custom form of five-point harnessed anarchy.IMG_7695 (1)


Most specifically, since Lenayah was weeks old she has hated car rides. (Code, she cries and shrieks the majority of the way). When I tell people this, there is no shred of mercy, more of that worldly modern mantra of parents, ‘Well, that shouldn’t stop you from seeing the world, be awesome today, family togetherness, worldly blabbity-blah, fly past the sun!!!’ I know these people mean well because there’s no better way to learn life than to travel. But, (giant sigh, shoulder shrug) I need to work on how I am reacting to this ala family style. 

Yesterday we took a trip to visit friends out-of-town. We took what the locals refer to as ‘a short cut’. It only took us double the reported time and our son totally didn’t ask for a status update every three minutes because he thought we’d be there already. But we got there, still on time. 

Of course, the trip was worth it to hang out with our friends and their cute kids. 

Of course, we want to make the point of surrounding our kids with people we love, who our kids can grow to love too. 

Of course, we want to surround ourselves with family and old friends who know all our secrets and stories of who we were before ‘mom and dad’. 

But of course, road trips all come at a cost that I wish was limited to simply fuel and road snacks. 


This specific trip was a late night drive home. There were ill-timed roadside potty stops that did not result in empty bladders as much as waking up sleeping babes. There was a totally over-tired baby boy sobbing, an older brother bugging everyone within arm swing and a middle sister having tantrums and only responding to reverse psychology because she’s a tiny rebel with toddler causes. #bannaptime #moresnacks #ihatethissong 

Passenger photography


Cue in all the reasons I love my husband.  He’s playing games with them, making them giggle and shriek, and blaring Usher’s ‘Yeah’ and telling me it’s a ‘hip-hop lullaby’ for Dawson. He’s wonderful, except when it’s 9 pm and all his efforts just get everyone riled up. 

I couldn’t wait for that drive to be over with and everyone in their beds. We got home, we cuddled the kids (Conor’s idea, obvi), put them to bed and I just wrapped myself up in blankets to isolate myself. Muttering to Conor that I loved him but I just need to put myself to bed now.
I knew this was my inability to handle the uncomfortable moments of life, my Type Nine tendencies deteriorating me into a stress case who freaks about misplaced pillows just to gain some traction. I get so overwhelmed with the crying and the fits. I get so frustrated that I become irrational. THEN every little thing that has ever made me mad is like, ‘oh heeeeey! you haven’t thought about me in a while, let’s hang out in your brain and mess up your ability to be loving and kind ‘ (cracks a beer, feet up). So I went to sleep. 

I woke up in the morning and knew I had to get over myself before I faced my family. I read today’s ODB. It was James 1:19-27 (from The Message translation)

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger…..Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like…..

I know my anger is based out of fear. I know I have a lot of fears that aren’t founded. I know I am a work in progress. I know what is true and what is not.  I know, and I forget these words just like I mindlessly glance at the time. I know I need to ACT how I say I WANT to act. I need to do things on purpose. 

I got out of bed and the kids were excited and hugged me like they do when Dad is home to wake up with them first. I hugged Conor and said sorry. He laughed at me and said, ‘It was a stressful ride home, it’s ok’. Like, seriously, this guy is teaching me so much about love every day. 

To be totally transparent, I do hate that so many moms seem so easy-going about simple things like road trips and family outings and I just can’t even deal. I hate that I get so uncomfortable and feel suffocated in my own vehicle with my own family, that I just want to be home already.  I hate that I have come to dread road trips so much that I can’t be the mom I want to be in that moment. Thank the Lord Conor is the other parent in this situation. Even if I passive-aggressively turned off Usher and made him pass me the cream puffs I had hidden under the seat. Sorry Usher, we do love you. 

I know this post turned into a rant about me being a crappy road-tripper. I am a homebody mom who wants her kids to be more worldly than she is. That is my intention, even if my heart isn’t sold on it, and my ear drums fall victim. 

I think I was under the impression that we would set all these goals and dreams and doing them would make my heart sparkle with a dozen toddlers headed to Disney Land. Turns out, sometimes my heart is lined with crotchety old men complaining about ham prices and broken sprinklers. At least, I have the best co-pilot around who can be the fun when I’m filled with fear and frustration. 

This endeavour to live ‘life on purpose’ is teaching me how to ‘love on purpose’. 

Love Shawna, Your Nerdy Girlfriend Who Needs More Usher, and Less Tantrums, In Her Road Trips 

Also, have you seen the price of ham these days? Outrageous!!


6 thoughts on “When Intentional Parenting Kinda Sucks”

  1. Okay, I think I might be one of those moms who seems easy-going on road trips because I took my four on a 24 hour (more, actually) drive last summer, and I was kind of chill about it. BUT there were long periods of time in which we were super stressed out, the adults among us fought a LOT, and we had kind of a rough trip once we GOT to our location. Really, no one thinks road trips with toddlers are easy. And at the time, we had a baby who was a pain in the rear, but our toddler and big girls were the best travellers in the world (ie. capable of quietly watching hours and hours of movies). Plus we took no detours, saw no sights, ate no interesting food (McD’s all the way, baby). We were only “intentional” about it in that we decided before we left not to kill each other and succeeded. My point: road trips with little kids are awful for EVERYONE, even those of us who were born with personalities more like Colin (me) than you (my husband). Did you and your marriage survive? Yes? Yay you!!

  2. Oh my gosh! I so get this! Sometimes just driving into town to get groceries I want to open my van door and jump ship! Car rides with kids are stressful. They are hard and unpleasant and long. Even the shortest trip is long. So you know what I did that I’m totally against (and have JUDGED)? Put the portable DVD players in the van and turned them on for short everyday trips. I still cringe at admitting this. But you know what? Now I can drive into town without losing my shit and then have to calm myself down before even getting out of the car to shop (with kids in tow, mind you).

    Road trips? Ha!!! We do them. A lot. But it doesn’t mean I enjoy the journey to get there part. Quite the contrary. I dread that part. I wish I could be the type that sings all the songs and plays all the car games and talks about all the sights. But I’m simply not. I got my kindle and my iphone and I pretend I don’t hear the commotion in the background. And I survive. I survive road trips.

    • Yup, I’m surviving…definitely not thriving lol
      We had a DVD player that broke a few weeks in and Conor is not excited to replace it….he is taking the top offender on a trip alone tomorrow, maybe it will sway him


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