We were driving back to our home in New Jersey last night, visiting with family in Long Island to celebrate our niece’s Christmas Day birthday, when my mind drifted back to my childhood. My memory took me back to my dad’s light blue Oldsmobile Omega (that ultimately became my first car) or my mom’s Chevrolet station wagon where I was stuck in the back seat with my two sisters on the way home from our holiday trips.

Not afforded the luxury of movies in the car, Walkman’s, iPhones or any other more modern “kidstraction” tools, those rides took foreverrrrrrrr, even if they were only an hour-and-a-half at max. They were even tougher when we came home late, when excitement blended into exhaustion-filled head bobs that rarely turned into a peaceful sleep.

I would have my highway markers that told me we were getting closer to home, like the golf course in Clinton, NJ, or the Willowbrook Mall on the way back from New York. But nothing meant more than my mom or dad saying, “we are almost home.” It was like a shot of adrenaline that I needed to get through those few last miles and get into my bed.

I thought of this last night because our youngest son Michael got tired. And even though he had his iPod touch and listened to music on the radio, he still wanted to get home. That’s what brought me back! He was me! He just wanted to see his dog and go to sleep.

I knew how much “we are almost home” would mean to him. But when do I say it? 30, 20, 15 or 10 minutes out? I decided on about 10 minutes when we hit the familiar strip of stores on Route 22. Just as I had done many, many years earlier, he perked up – in a relaxed way – because he knew he only had to hang on a few more minutes.

And when we hit the driveway, he gave the same sigh of relief I always did. We were home!

Image courtesy of Flickr user sudoking