When I was growing up motels were judged by one thing: did they have a pool? We didn't travel much, but we did take a vacation every year, and in my mind, the quality of the motel was directly related to whether or not we got to go swimming while we stayed there.
It's a good thing we weren't picky because my parents' preferences, or at least their wallet, ran towards cheap. With six children, their two requirements for motels was that it be inexpensive and clean. Usually in that order. As I got older, I got a little more discriminating in my tastes, and I often turned my nose up at our accommodations for the night. But who could blame me? Back then Tom Bodette might leave the light on for you, but you didn't get the TV unless you paid extra. I remember once asking my dad if we could splurge and spend the extra buck to get TV for the night. Sarcasm was my gift, even as a teenager.
When Indiana and I got married, we had a free-flowing waterbed. Waterbeds were all the rage, and it didn't matter that ours was second hand. We eventually moved on to a "real" bed, and when we did, we upgraded to queen size. From there we moved to a king size bed and finally, a couple of years ago, to a king size sleep-comfort bed with individual remotes so that we can each adjust the firmness on our side of the bed. In addition, our marriage started out with a single pillow for each of us. With each pregnancy I added pillows and when I added them, Indiana did too. I think our bed size had to increase just to accommodate the extra pillows we collected.
The house we stayed in for the wedding also had a queen bed, but it seemed smaller. In fact, I think it grew smaller with each passing night. There was a second bedroom with a double bed which the boys took turns sharing. The other three boys rotated, one on the couch and two on the floor.
Stress was keeping me from getting a decent night's sleep that week, and by the night before the wedding, each of us tossed and turned, both blaming the other's restlessness for keeping each other awake. With the boys scattered over the living room, we didn't even have the option of taking to the couch. Once again I strongly considered commandeering a bed all to myself, but once again I resisted the urge.
After the wedding we traveled many hours further north to spend a week at my in-laws. There we shared a double bed.
A very narrow double bed.
It was rather warm that week, so we kept a window open and a fan blowing, but some nights it seemed impossible to sleep. Most turning over had to be done in unison for fear of knocking each other off the bed and on the floor. When Indiana complained that he felt like he was on the edge of the bed all the time, I pointed out that I had done my part--after all, I had lost over 60 pounds. There certainly was more room in that bed than there had been the last time we visited. (And he was more in the middle than he realized. I was on the edge!)
We took three days traveling home from the in-laws. Our last night in a motel, I found a great deal on an actual two-room suite. It had a king-size bed and a pullout sofa bed. I looked forward to that bed most of the day as we drove. I didn't care that two of the boys needed to sleep in the floor. It was a sacrifice I was willing for them to make, so that I could get a decent night's sleep. And I would have, too, if I hadn't been taking care of Nicky's sunburn most of the night.
Our plan had been to drive each day until we felt like stopping. We did not want to stick to a schedule or force ourselves to cover a certain amount of territory each day. But that final day on the road was a long one. It really should have taken two days, but we pushed the driving, covering North and South Carolina, Georgia and half of Florida, finally arriving home around midnight. As tired as we were, we couldn't stop because each passing mile brough us closer to our goal: a night in our own bed. The trip had been fun, but suddenly nothing was so important as getting a decent night's sleep. And apparently, that couldn't be done until we were home.
That last exhausting day of travel was so worth it. I was sound asleep almost as soon as I sank into my own bed in my own room, and both of us slept soundly all night long.
And don't feel too sorry for the boys for having to sleep on the floor that last night. The motel had color TV and a pool. What more could a kid want?