Override to Abilene

Mike tells this story about a family who drives forty minutes to Abilene for ice cream after dinner out. They’re in the car, the four of them, the dad driving, mom in the passenger seat, two pre-teen kids in the back. It’s summer, it’s hot, and Dad’s tired and would like to just go home and watch some TV, but instead he says, “Want to go to Abilene for ice cream?” He knows the mom really likes a certain kind of ice cream they have there. Mom has things to do at home and doesn’t feel like taking a long ride now, but doesn’t want to be a killjoy wet blanket, so she says, “Oh that would be nice!” She’s thinking that if her husband really wants to go to Abilene then she can rally and do her stuff another time. She loves him.

Little Jenny and Johnny in the backseat want to go home. It’s hot in the car and they’d rather be playing in the backyard and maybe seeing if the neighbor kids are home. But they know their Dad and Mom are trying to do something nice for them to make a fun family adventure by getting ice cream in Abilene so they feign excitement to make their parents feel good. Even though the trip will take up their whole free time before bed at least they’ll get some ice cream out of the deal.

And so they go to Abilene.

Mike, Ax, my mom, and I went to Abilene the other day, only it was Burbank Ikea, and the drive was much longer. I had an obsession with getting a sectional for our living room and perhaps a bunk bed for Ax’s room, even though he still co-sleeps in our bed, but we were not prepared for the day and even before we went I had an inkling that it was not the right thing to do. But I overrode the inkling.

I drove straight through my quieter, but truer, instincts about how I really wanted to spend our family time together, about what my personal capacity for the day was, and even what I knew to be true before we went: We would not find what I was craving at Ikea. I drove straight through it to Burbank.

I’m pretty sure Mike was in “Whatever you want dear,” mode since he said as much, and then didn’t say much of anything after that, glued to his phone. He had no desire to go but when I started mumbling about not wanting to go he did rally me. I’m sure he thought he was helping. And my mom and Ax just wanted to be with each other and me and Mike, whatever we were doing, no matter how misguided or grueling.

And we got through it. It was one day, plus another day to recover. But I’d rather pay better attention to my small voice, my truer voice, my easier-to-please voice that doesn’t need a new sectional to feel like home is homey. That doesn’t need more stuff to feel like she’s doing a good enough job making a nest for the family. That me could really be happier doing much, much less, reducing the rally kind of energy, and sinking into the goodness and love that is right here, right now.