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The Healing Power of the Family Outing

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I love my life as a mom. I really do. But every so often I experience a case of burnout that has me dreaming of getting on a plane, train, or bicycle and hightailing it to anywhere where nobody knows my name.

No mention of toilets flooding, cries that we are out of milk, or complaints about what I made for supper. Just peace and quiet.

For a few weeks, there's hardly been a day when I haven't had at least one kid home with a bug or stomach flu. At the same time, my oldest is stressed out over his final year in high school, and my 15-year-old special needs daughter needs almost constant supervision. She's been getting into the type of trouble more appropriate for a child of three or four than a teen who is 5' 8" and capable of finding all the things we hide from her. That kid can decorate a bathroom with a bottle of shampoo faster that you can say, Lord have mercy.

The other day my 11-year-old told me he was not going to school because, and I quote, "I said so and that's all there is to it." I wonder where he heard it first? I had to remind him that that line only works if you are a parent. "Oh. OK. I guess I should get ready for school then."

Since it's my darling family that caused my glum mood, you might be surprised to hear that I had fun with them yesterday, and it made me feel better.

Believe it or not, family bowling cured me of crankiness.

Usually when I'm in such a mood, I would rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp object than go anywhere with all three of my kids and my husband. But I was so desperate to get out of my funk I was willing to try anything. Even a family outing.

After all the stress and craziness of the last few weeks, I honestly forgot what it was like to just sit back and enjoy my kids having fun. The proud look on Lizzy's face as she got a strike, or watching the boys cheer her on and give her high fives made my heart soften a bit. Seeing Tom go from a stressed-out teenager who is always too busy to spend time with us, to a kid who actually seemed to enjoy spending time with his family reminded me that as big as he may get, he still needs us.

I looked over at Joe who was watching our kids with such pride and love that I forgot that just an hour ago I wanted to ring his neck because it took me twenty minutes to find the hand soap that he hid from Lizzy the mess-maker.

Gratitude started to fill me again. The glass became half full instead of half empty, and the scowl that was glued to my face finally faded. I fell back in love with my family.

The effect lasted into today when Lizzy found the honey and made an epic kitchen mess and the boys got into an argument over who got domain over the family TV. I still feel refreshed, renewed and loving toward my family. Who would have guessed that the cure to my malaise would be spending time with the very people who drove me batty in the first place?

In the interest of honesty I am compelled to inform you that my family feels I overstated my joy. They feel I am still a tad on the cranky side.

This piece was previously published on Kathy's site, My Dishwasher's Possessed!