I remember when we had been living on the road for two weeks. The initial fun had worn off, and now the shock of laundry, dishes, and cooking in a tiny space set in. Ridiculous or not, it seemed like I should be hitting my stride at fourteen days. Obviously I was ridiculous. Moving my family into a motorhome might be impossible to master in any amount of time, but there I was in the Wild West of South Dakota telling myself, “Two weeks should just about wrap-up the struggles.”
We made it through a few more weeks and our first month passed. So, naturally I began counting our time on the road in months. Days to weeks to months. This is progress. And so it went for many, many, many months. How many times can I say many in a sentence?
Today marks 17 months on the road. This has honestly been the most stressful 17 months of my life. And next month I will count our time on the road as 1 ½ years. Days to weeks to months to years.
*Editor’s Note: Obviously Monica doesn’t look old. I picked photos to illustrate how ridiculous she is.
My sweet husband and I are different people. Each new location provides him with new geography to discover. New views to photograph. New museums in which to putter and be boring. I love pretty views as much as the next person, but human connection is what I crave most.
New people will always be more interesting to me than new places. And sometimes new people aren’t very welcoming, especially when they know I will be gone in three months.
I’ve done a lot of crocheting. So, that’s something. It’s a social crutch, I’ll admit it. Sometimes people ask me what I’m making, and it’s a good conversation starter. But sometimes no one asks me what I’m making, and in my mind I tell them I’m making myself seem purposeful so that it won’t sting when they look through me, past me, or turn their head after I smile at them.
The kids have had a lot of experiences; some great and some less great, but all good learning experiences. Sometimes the sting of social rejection reminds us to not bring our weird drawings of obscure cartoon characters and thrust them into a new person’s face as soon as we meet them.
And sometimes we have to learn that snap judgments create unnecessary roadblocks to friendships that have limited time to develop (especially when we waste time being judgmental).
Sometimes we learn that being too open or failing to establish boundaries can result in an unfortunate friendship (remember Randy the Racist?) I wouldn’t change these experiences for anything, even amid all the hard things.
I feel for the hubs. He’s still so excited to be out on the road. But I’m tired. And the kids are tired.
At the end of January the family will be traveling back to San Antonio when our renters move out. We are so excited to be somewhere familiar and have some semblance of a normal routine.
We will need to buy beds for each of us, a washer and dryer, a refrigerator, and yard tools, as well as fix any broken thing and deep clean the house.
The hubs will return to Utah for one more contract, after helping around the house for two weeks. This means we will be apart for eleven weeks. We’re going to mitigate the distance by having him fly to San Antonio every other week, but it will be a new kind of trial.
Other than cleaning and furnishing our home, we will also get our motorhome ready for our next adventure in May. This means we will empty it, clean it top to bottom, get some repairs done, and restock it with everything we will need for five months of spring and summer travel.
Then there’s Parker. He is the primary focus of this San Antonio housing transition.
Parker will graduate in March, turn 18 in April, and hopefully get a job at that time. We will leave him alone in the home when we take off in May for our Louisiana, Alabama, Florida beach vacation. Parker will be home alone for an entire month.
Hopefully Parker will manage his new independence well in our absence, get to work, mow the lawn, fetch the mail, wipe off a dish or two, but we honestly don’t know how it will go.
This is our straightest road forward, the path of least resistance, and our most hopeful route to Parker’s venture into adulthood. We have back-up plans aplenty — for anyone out there who’s concerned as they read this — and we are absolutely accepting thoughts and prayers.
I look in the mirror and I see the gray roots of my thinning hair, the small lines around my eyes, the ever expanding layer of fat around my middle. I wonder if those things would have happened regardless of where I had been living these last 17 months. Has the stress accelerated my aging? Or is it playing out as it would no matter where I was living?
I’m asking a lot of questions these days.
If we were still in Seattle, would I age slower because I sent my kids off to school every day? Because when you live on the road full-time they’re always there. You know what I mean? They’re right there. Right there! Right over there. You can hit them with a piece of bread because they’re right dang there.
“Hey! Parker! Stop talking. You’re always talking.”
My husband was working 8-hour shifts with an hour commute each way, and it seemed like he was always gone. Was that a bad thing or a good thing? Because he’s around a lot more now, and I’m getting older pretty fast. He’s not getting older, like a jerkwad. Is this his fault?
I used to put the dogs in the backyard to do their business. Now I walk them outside six times a day. I don’t even have to ask if this is frustrating me to the point of aging.
And what I would give to sleep on my own Costco mattress. I’d kill for that mattress.
The bottom line is I don’t know if I’m aging faster or not, but I feel like I am. Having kids and dogs around constantly is stressful, but in theory it is better than the situation we were in before.
All of these things — kids, dogs, living in tight spaces — are stressors, and laying the groundwork for the gray hair, wrinkles, and added layer of fat I see accumulating now.
I have spent my 43rd and 44th birthdays on the road. Maybe this is the season of life where we face the inevitability of aging??? I guess I thought I was different. The stress cannot be helping.
It’s worth noting, I saw my doctor in San Antonio, and he did every blood test you could imagine, and he found no problems whatsoever. So apparently my accelerated aging has everything to do with vanity and nothing to do with underlying disease processes.
My husband’s job and all these months have lead us to where we are now, which is… hold on lemme check… Salt Lake City, UT. Our oldest son lives 45 minutes away from where we’re staying. Right now he is going through a break up from the most serious relationship he has ever had (and he’s sick), and it is so nice to be able to buy him soup and tea and chocolate.
Ryan could even give him a blessing because we’re here and not in Seattle. Hopefully he could feel his Heavenly Parent’s love through his Earthly Parents. If we didn’t have this job, we wouldn’t be stationed in Utah to help our boy when he needs it.
Nonetheless, It’s hard to experience joy when you’re drowning and feeling like the stress is aging you. My light has felt pretty dim these past few months living on the road.
I’m going to list out all my life stressors in one place so I can look back at this in the future and laugh at the life I’ve imposed on myself. Let’s start with the obvious one.
Parker: I often point out to Parker how welcoming the tent city looks in downtown SLC. “Do you see the freeway overpass, Parker? They say it’s warm under there. Super surprising, right? Why don’t you get out and see. I’ll wait here and change my phone number while I drive away.”
Dogs: I keep wishing one of them would die. Is that wrong?
Cooking for three teens: Thankless little goblins need to find the dishwasher.
Keto: Ugh. Like a slave.
Laundromats: Use your imagination. Super sketch!
Social stuff – anxiety and making friends: I thought I was good at this. What the heck happened??
Where to buy food and everything else: It’s harder and more tedious than it sounds.
The quarterly dispute over finances w/ the hubs: Hehe. Oops!
Maids: You wanna love them because they’re financially challenged, but at the same time, you wanna strangle them when you’re lucky to see them once a week and they do a crappy job.
Hotel staff: Hilton suuuuuucks. Boycott!
Car and motorhome troubles: Have you bought a new $16K engine lately?
Always Being New at Church: Some communities make more effort than others.
Christmas in a hotel room: I think we can all imagine how pathetic this could be.
People’s expectations for our kids and dogs: Relax, jerkwads.
Freezing weather: We’re supposed to be chasing the sun!
Doctors and Dental Appts. when nobody knows you: It’s less than ideal.
That pretty much sums it up. Close enough, anyway.
Some of these stressors are common to all of us and they will surely follow me to San Antonio. And I’m sure there will be other new stressors to enjoy. Here’s a few I can think of already:
Missing my husband when he’s 1200 miles away for three months.
Finding someone that will hire Parker.
Convincing Parker that the minimum wage in Texas ($7.25) is worth working for. Also, Parker refuses to do janitorial work, because “that is beneath him”. He loves movies, so we thought working at a movie theater would be a good fit. He has no desire to clean up after people that spill popcorn in the theater, even if the perks of the job include watching all the new movies for free.
Home repairs. Four years of renters in your home guarantees that repairs are waiting.
Washing our own towels. That one’s gonna sting.
Yardwork. Do people still do yard work? I’m sorry. It’s been awhile.
Who knows how this next chapter will go. There are too many unknowns ~ especially with our wild card, Parker. At the end of the day, or week, or month, or year, I’m grateful that we have had this opportunity to take our freak show out of Seattle and do some living on the road.
Even if it’s aging me exponentially.
That’s the end! Thank you for visiting our website. We like to keep it real around here. If you don’t know us, we are Ryan and Monica Hoffmann, a full-time RV family with special needs children. If you would like to read more about us, here you go! God bless you and travel happy (whenever possible, ha).
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