We Drove Our Kids 16 Hours For A 4 Minute Event :: Was It Worth It?

We Drove Our Kids 16 Hours For A 4 Minute Event :: Was It Worth It?

Months and months ago, my husband asked me if I wanted to travel to Texas to see the 2024 total eclipse. 

I did. I really, really did. But for many reasons, I didn’t think we’d be able to swing it. We couldn’t afford to fly our family of five out there, and we didn’t want to drive the eight hours with our kids in tow along with missing school. The eclipse trip would be following a special anniversary trip and would be coming just before an out of state wedding, and I didn’t feel we could leave the kids again, sandwiched between those other trips. After much debate, and because it meant so much to my husband to see it, we agreed that he would travel on his own to Texas while I stayed home with the kids.

I really was at peace with this decision, although he asked me multiple times in the following months if I’d changed my mind and wanted to come. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go, it was that the logistics just weren’t going to work out for us. And then, with just a week and a half to go before the big eclipse, the FOMO started kicking in– big time. I couldn’t escape eclipse talk online, at work, or with friends. My husband’s plans had changed a little from staying at an Air B&B to staying with his uncle just outside of Dallas. I started imagining what the drive would be like and how feasible it would be with our kids. Finally, a friend’s encouragement that we really could do this gave me just enough gumption to bring it up with my husband: I wanted to go, and I wanted to bring the kids.

Anyone who knows me knows that this endeavor was WHOLLY outside of my comfort zone. “Spontaneity” and “go with the flow” have never once been used to describe me. But here I was, suggesting my husband cancel his long-standing plans to drive our wild kids on a sixteen hour round trip to only have a CHANCE to witness a four-minute event with a poor weather forecast. My husband, for his part, was ecstatic that I wanted to come and canceled his flight without a second thought. Everyone else whom I informed about our change of plans thought I was out of my mind.

But we did it!

I got the okay from my husband’s family to bring the whole feral lot of us to their house, spoke with our kids’ teachers, packed us all up into one suitcase, quickly threw together car activities and snacks, and with my head still spinning, started the drive out to Texas. I really wasn’t sure it would actually happen until we were on the road. All the while, my mantra was: This is the mom I always wanted to be. I wanted to be a parent unfettered by my usual stress, compulsions, rigidity, and anxiety. I wanted to say yes to once in a lifetime opportunities, not worry about the little things, and give my children these chances to see and experience the world. I coached my kids up as best as I could about how even if we didn’t get to see the eclipse, even if it rained, we’d still be taking an amazing adventure together, and that’s what counted.

We made it to Texas, got our bearings on our first day, hoped and prayed for good weather and clear skies on the next day, and soon found ourselves in a park gazing up in shock at an unbelievably profound celestial miracle, the moon perfectly blocking the sun in between the clouds that had threatened to conceal it. My children cartwheeled in the dusky twilight that settled around us while my husband thanked me for bringing our family to experience this together. Before I knew it, the sun returned, and we were hustling our kids back into the car for the long drive home. 

While the eclipse was, of course, an immensely magnificent experience that I will forever treasure seeing, I want to emphasize that this trip was about so much more for me. It was about me speaking up, pivoting, going with the flow, and doing something completely out of my comfort zone. I was proud of myself as a mom and as a person, and that’s not something I often feel! I’m hopeful that I can continue finding opportunities like this for me and my family and saying yes to them.

63 hours away from home– 16 hours of driving– 4 minutes of total eclipse. And it was so worth it. Would I still feel that way if it were cloudy and we didn’t get to see the eclipse? I like to think so, because just like I told my kids– if nothing else, it was one big adventure.

Erica Tran
Erica lives in Kenner with her husband Michael and her three sons, Benjamin, Joshua, and Elijah. After graduating from UL Lafayette with a degree in advertising and landing her dream job, she left her chosen field and now works part time as an administrative assistant for a Catholic retreat movement. She spends the rest of her time at home with her boys, finding lost toys and actively ignoring various messes. In 2019, she self-published her first book, The Sister. There's not a lot of free time between working, reading and writing, and chasing her kids, but in those moments she's usually sprawled on the sofa in casual denial about just how messy her house is.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here