Take a road trip. Two cars, three adults, five children aged five and under, 24 hours, 400 miles and many salty snack foods should suffice. Weather: freezing rain/snowstorm. Destination: North Pole, via the Polar Express.
The driver of Car #1 should get pulled over within the first 60 miles. Reason: swerving. After determining that a) she is not driving her minivan ass-over-teakettle drunk at 1 p.m with four kids in the back b) driver of Car #2 (pulled up on side of road behind this spectacle) does not have our back as homey drug dealer/arms carrier c) no children will remain sleeping on this journey, Sheriff lets Car #1 go and leaves the scene, never noticing the expired tags on Car #2.
Crawl into the minivan back-40 to deliver juice boxes, crackers, raisins and fruit leather to wee darlings approx. two dozen times. Hit head on drop-down video player every time. Start being referred to as the flight attendant, subject to cracks like “Passenger in seat 3B, your freshly roasted peanuts are on the way, as soon as the flight attendant is back from her gin-and-tonic break.”
Delight in the appreciative noises of Child #4, who mutters at regular intervals, “You’re stupid, Mommy.”
Upon arrival in train station destination city, get lost and drive around for 15 minutes.
At restaurant prior to train departure, Child #2 crashes head into table and splits it open, bringing you *this close* to spending the evening in the ER instead of the North Pole as promised.
Ride Train to North Pole! Children laugh and dance and play and scale the seats! Santa comes aboard and hands out hundreds of small, noisy bells! Grown-ups wish for schnapps in their hot chocolate! Average people sing very loudly! Train ride never seems to end!
Send sister a text that reads “Still on train. People are singing carols. Have been kidnapped and sent to North Hell.”
Children’s eyes grow wide and awestruck at the sight of the lights of North Pole, making you feel all mushy inside about your newly updated “Mother of the Year” status.
Upon arrival in overnight destination city, get lost and drive around for 15 minutes.
Carry five blissfully sleeping children to bed. Purr over their adorableness. Stay up until midnight drinking wine and eating cheese and talking about life.
Leave children in bed. Sleep on floor. It’s the least you can do.
Get up at 5 a.m. and blink blearily into your coffee while witnessing five slightly less adorable children run laps and scream at the top of their lungs.
On way out of town, get lost and drive around for 15 minutes.
At first potty stop, Child #1 steps in dog poop and then gallops all over every surface of car interior.
Come *this close* to running out of gas.
Respond to children’s endless whining pleas to flight attendant for juice boxes and bunny crackers by making up a handy list of mommy whines. (wheedling tone) “Where’s my chardonnay? I want a spa treatment. I need some beignets right now.”
Laugh so hard you cry at least six times.
Soak up the utterly joyful insanity only children can bring to your life.
Arrive home punch-drunk and cross-eyed, but happy as shit.
Remember that what matters isn’t choosing the perfect title for your book or squeezing just one more brilliant essay out of yourself before Tuesday. What matters is a) getting out in the world and doing the occasional completely cockamamie thing b) good friends c) oodles and oodles of love.