Because I’m basically a felon

We drove to Texas over the weekend. That means 22 hours in Big Green with four kids and the dog, slowing down only long enough to let kids pee by the side of the road.

We’ve been making long runs with children for over a decade. As young parents we frequently drove all night–through the snowy pass–on our way home for the holidays without batting a single sleepy eye. But this trip we learned an unfortunate truth called, “We Are Not Young Parents Anymore.”

I blame Jason for turning 40. Then there’s also the little remnant of PTSD I have of semis at night time due to that unfortunate autobahn accident, which has completely removed me from the helpful night driver equation. About nine Jason asked me to drive so he could sleep and push through to Texas.

I lasted a total of 45 minutes, passing semi after semi before I thought my heart was going to explode and my sweaty hands were gripping the steering like it alone could save us from The Ring.

We finally rolled into Tucumcari, New Mexico about 1:00 am (pitiful). We were both exhausted, blowing cold air on our faces and listening to a station broadcasting local UFO sitings (I’m not making that up) just to get to the next town.

The room rate was $39.99. In hindsight it wouldn’t have been a big deal to get two rooms but at one in the morning you’re not thinking straight. So like the mastermind we apparently are, we hatched a plan based on the following situation assessment.

1. We did not budget a room for the night in our cash vacation plan.

2. We can’t leave the dog in the car but he never barks or sheds (much), so he doesn’t really count as a dog.

3. We have four kids but we all know that four kids awake is comparable to two kids asleep, they’re really more like a bunch of corpses who can sleep anywhere that we can move and revive when the sun comes up.

4. We always always always pay the annoying extra fee for crowding our little children into a room. At 1 in the morning at a janky Motel 6 in New Mexico we just didn’t want to do it.

So, like the pair of guilty felons we apparently are, we drove quietly around to the back side of the motel, whispering our naughty plan like a couple of dim witted burglars who forget that you can talk in a regular voice in the car.

“Okay, I’m going to quietly carry the kids and you wait here in the car with the dog. After we’ve been in for five minutes, sneak him up the back stairs and I’ll leave the door cracked…”

My heart was pounding out of my chest as Jason and the boys and our two corpse children slunk off to our assigned room. I sat in the car with the dog, who I’m pretty sure knew we were doing something illegal.

It was the longest five minutes of my week.

Finally I got the dog out of the car, let him mark our territory (lest anyone else roll in before morning and try to pee there), and the two of us stealthily floated up to our room without disturbing the air. This was because I failed to breathe. Obviously when you’re breaking the law you should refrain from breathing as much as possible. Self-inflicted death penalty.

For the record, I then experienced the worst night of sleep I’ve had in years. It was guilty sleep, if anyone moved or any sound came from the outdoor walkway I jumped up, ready to admit that yes, we snuck in two extra kids and a dog and it was me, all me! I did this! I forced my family into this illegal act!!

I finally slept the last three hours. When the sun came up we woke to the sound of dogs outside and kids running along the outdoor railing.

Somehow I got the feeling we weren’t alone.