The Night Our Family Slept in Our Car

Our family slept in our car last night. No, this isn’t a regular thing for us. (Other than the three nights spent on the lanai at the DMV, and the occasional red-eye flight, we don’t do this.) (Trust me, you don’t want to know why we spent several nights camping at the DMV.) I love my comfortable bed and need a good night’s sleep. But this week was different and called for a special adjustment to our heavily scheduled lives.

The Eddie was anticipated to run at the stunning Waimea Bay on the North Shore on Wednesday. This prestigious big wave invitational surf event is an event to honor Eddie Aikau, one of Hawaii’s greatest and most respected watermen. It’s a competition requiring the most epic surf conditions with 40’ waves holding for at least 6 hours. Conditions that are so rare and magnificent that it’s only been held eight times in the last 31 years.

IMG_1725 (1)
Waimea Bay, North Shore, Oahu

Our kids really wanted to go. But I’d had a long day at work. I was tired and I had a lot of stuff to get done the next day and didn’t want to fight the crowds and intense traffic heading to this remote beach. And don’t even get me started on the parking nightmare this endeavor would present.  As I explained all of my excuses to them, I suggested we watch it on TV. After all, we’d have a better view of the competition and would actually get to see the surfers riding the waves instead of fighting for a sliver of beach to peer at them in the distance through binoculars.

They were understanding, but I could see disappointment begin to shroud their faces.

Then it hit me and I realized how much of my life had become routine – maintaining the family’s schedule, making sure their homework was done, keeping our family moving in the right direction.

Which is fine, right? Because there’s always going to be stuff to get done, a house to clean, meals to cook, laundry to wash and appointments to keep. And somebody has to be responsible to get it all done. Right?

But time is fleeting and kids don’t stay young forever. Moments for us to be together as a family are becoming increasingly rare. And five years from now, my kids won’t remember if they had clean socks, a vacuumed living room or a home-cooked meal.

But, today, I had the opportunity to make a memory with my kids that they would remember forever.

While we need structure, boundaries and routine I don’t think those are the memory-making moments. Memories are made when we step out, take a risk, color out of the lines and do something new…something exciting…something uncomfortable…something different.

So we grabbed blankets and pillows, piled everyone into the car at 10pm and drove to the North Shore to camp in our car on the side of the road with thousands of other people.

Sadly, after a rough night of barely any sleep and an early morning of Foodland doughnuts and coffee, the bay called the day and the competition was canceled. My kids didn’t seem to care too much about that, though. For them, they had experienced an adventure. They had done something exciting. They skipped school, spent the night on the North Shore and got to eat doughnuts for breakfast.

Dry run for next year, perhaps. But I hope this moment taught them a couple of important life lessons that will be imbedded in their memory forever:

First, if the waves are big enough, school is optional. (Kidding, not really)

Secondly, sometimes the most important things should to be left undone in order to invest in something else – the someones – who are even more important.

Seeing beyond my “to-do” list, made space for us to create a memory that our kids will talk about for years.

Let me encourage you to make a decision today to do something fresh, something spontaneous, something silly. Choose to pause and make a family memory together instead of packing your kids in the car to run another errand, “shushing” them while you finish one more email, or telling them “just a minute” while you get one more thing done.

You’ll be glad you did, even if it means spending the night in your car.

Update: Two weeks later, The Eddie did run! We slept in our car, again, and it was wonderful. You can see pictures and read all about it here.




5 thoughts on “The Night Our Family Slept in Our Car

  1. So glad you all have that memory now. We have a similar memory where we slept in our van. It was an awful night’s sleep but the adventure was awesome!
    That’s the right perspective. Our kids are gone before we know it and it’s good to make the memory! Way to go!

  2. I love this. Your kids will have wonderful memories. Sleeping in the car overnight doesn’t cost a lot of money but it will give the richest memories. We spent many summers when our kids were little going to different national parks – nothing fancy, hiking each day – and my teenagers talk about it the whole time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s