Kristina Beers: Traveling gives mom a new perspective

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer

This past month, I was able to embark on a grand adventure with all five of my sons: We went to Italy! I am a part of a Pilgrimage group and we take a group from Michigan every spring. My dad came to me with an idea after he had massive heart surgery last summer: Let’s make it so the boys can go at least once. I’m sure he had help from a very persuasive friend of ours, but there it was and there was no putting that genie back in the bottle.

The kids found out at Christmas they were going and I will say it was overwhelmingly … a soft landing. I mean, yes, they were excited, but it was all in theory and they had mischief outside to tend to in the snow. As it got closer, though, things began to ramp up as we set the preparations for this incredible experience.

For starters, I had a sit down with all my sons and gave them the no-nonsense mom-approved packing strategies: no flag T-shirts, no trying to pack a pocket knife, no drinking, no messing with the TSA guys just to see if you can, and no being goofballs. BEHAVE. They looked like I took their favorite toys away. I knew I was bringing them into a group of strangers and I know what my boys can be like all together — they are a pack mentality and can begin to devolve right before my very eyes.

I’m sure I was blowing it all out of proportion, but I am not kidding when I say this was the most nerve-wracking trip I had undertaken with these guys: It was no longer just our family where I could straighten them out in the car when they misbehaved — they are adults and I would always be in a group of people! I love and adore my kids, but what if other people hated being stuck with this crazy woman and her five jeans-wearing, belt buckle sporting, work-book clodding boys? In Italy, no less! (Pretty sure no one had any doubts we were Americans. I’m also pretty sure no one was going to mess with the posse, either.)

The worries were all for naught since we were providentially gathered with a group of pilgrims who not only fell in love with the boys right away, stuck up for them when I’d have to do a little wrangling and sang with them when they broke out in a spontaneous rendition of “God Bless America” as we rocketed through the mountain regions of Italy, passing little vineyard after little vineyard. They left the T-shirts at home, but not the stupid buckles that had to be removed at each and every security checkpoint, and they certainly didn’t leave their love for shenanigans at home.

I kinda fell in love with them all over again, because I saw them not as just my kids, but as fellow pilgrims who had an amazing opportunity to travel with their mom and grandpa. (Unfortunately, not my husband as he said someone had to stay home and pay the bills.) One of the nights we went round-robin to share what the pilgrimage meant to each person and I sat back in awe at how beautiful and articulate each of the boys were.

Our group consisted of a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary; a couple married for 30 years, he after suffering a debilitating motorcycle accident and being told he would never walk again, then traipsing the streets of Rome each and every day with the rest of us on his own two feet; a couple with four young boys of their own at home; a couple with grown adult children on their second honeymoon; a lifelong bachelor who writes for a living; and a few others who came and went within our pack.

I was so worried about my kids doing something wrong I almost missed all the things they did right, the things that make them who they are. I almost missed the one thing that truly mattered: They are not me, each and every boy gets to be himself with my love to support him.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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