Our vacation was fantastic and also gave us more experience on how things change when you have a child. There are so many new things when you have a baby that you constantly need to think about that you didn’t before. So many things to remember to bring anytime you leave the house. And lots of limitations – yours, the baby’s… a diaper’s.
Our limits are in personal time. Long gone are the days of lounging under the sun on vacation or doing anything on a whim. Just deciding to go to the beach right outside our door took a half hour of preparations: packing the beach bag with all of her stuff, slathering her with sunscreen, getting her into her swimming diaper and bathing suit and then repeating those steps with yourself – all but the swimming diaper anyway. I soon discovered that you also can’t oil yourself down with tanning lotion to catch some rays because then you can’t hold her if she needs you without running back to the room and showering down first so you don’t inadvertently douse your 4 month old in tanning oil.
As far as her limits, a 12-13 hour drive is a good place to start. Adri normally loves a car ride but you can only sleep so much. Evidently 12 hours is everyone’s limit – especially if you’re stuck staring at the backseat the whole way. Thanks to smartphones we could distract her a bit when she did get crabby…even if it was with an old episode of Duck Dynasty at one point. After getting there, she didn’t care if she ever saw the carseat again I think. Unfortunately her carseat is also part of her stroller so by Day 2 of our trip she would get fussy every time we put her into her carseat apparently thinking we were going to drag her on another day-long haul. Luckily we brought the baby carrier, she liked it better and it was much nicer to use on the beach anyway.
Then there was also the unexpected explosion in her diaper while we were sitting down enjoying lunch on Day 5. Fortunately for us we were sitting at an outside table so it was just a quick run to the car to change her without a march of shame through the restaurant. Although that turned into a disaster too when it turned out we didn’t have a change of clothes and the ones she was wearing were a casualty of the poop bomb and everything around her in the back of the Pilot / changing station, a victim.
Before this trip we hadn’t really ventured out with the baby too much so we weren’t sure what to expect. We were relieved though the more we saw and discovered that this is the norm for most parents. We witnessed plenty of parenting moments on our trip that reassured us that things happen to everyone with children. As much as you plan you just can never be 100% ready for the unexpected and you can’t control every situation when there’s a child involved. There were babies screaming in restaurants while we just thanked God it wasn’t ours (this time anyway). Kids running around like crazed animals and frazzled parents chasing behind looking like they hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in years. During a food/bathroom stop on our drive home I was greeted with a pair of eyes peering at me from under the stall door while I was on the toilet and an embarrassed mother on the other side of the door when I emerged. At a second rest stop on the drive home we watched a dad run from the car with his daughter in his outstretched arms to the bathroom holding her at such distance you’d think she had just been sprayed by a skunk while her mom cleaned down the backseat from what I can only imagine was either Shit or Puke Fest 2013.
To make the ride home easier I rode in the backseat with the baby and it helped. Before the baby we may have been able to make that drive in 10 hours or less instead of 13. We definitely have to get used to any road trips taking longer now. And so much for my game with Maggie (our GPS). From now on we’ll just hope that we actually get to our destinations in the time Maggie’s projecting since beating her time is definitely not a possibility anymore. We’re also going to say farewell to the term “packing lightly” and will have to get used to stuffing the car full with all the baby necessities. One good thing about packing all this stuff is that even in a totally new environment she was still in the comfort of her own bed and familiar things all week so aside from when she was trapped in her carseat she was pretty happy the rest of the time and still slept well.
On one night of our trip while having a glass of wine with my mom she told me a story about her first attempt at a trip with me after I was born out to Mammoth Cave. Apparently I was born with claustrophobia because she said even that young, the moment the cave started narrowing and getting darker, I freaked out. In fact, I freaked out so bad she said she was asked to leave and was escorted to the emergency exit (which I didn’t know but apparently are hidden all over in those caves and literally take just a second to get you on an elevator and out of there). How embarrassing. Sorry about that mom! 😉
So yeah, kids just can’t be predicted. You can pretty much guarantee that they’ll pull a sneeze/fart combo right in the middle of a silent moment, be tired and fighting sleep by screaming and acting like a fool when you’re out in public, have a shit explosion that no diaper can contain in the worst of places, they’ll destroy your car, house, yard, whatever. There’s a reason people tell you to get a pet before you’re considering having a kid. But not a cat – they’re too self sufficient. Better practice is a dog. If you really want to prepare yourself, get a couple dogs. That way by the time you have kids you’ve had years of experience in getting your furniture, yard and house destroyed, and in embarrassing moments like animals that fart and leave the room so everyone can silently wonder who shit their pants, dogs that hump your guests or sniff crotches when company’s over or, in my case, dogs that hump each other and get knotted up every time you have a party. Yup, just like animals, kids are unpredictable and sometimes embarrassing but they’re totally worth it. And besides, there will be plenty of time years from now when the tables are turned and we’ll be an embarrassment to our children.
All in all, for our first big road trip I think we did pretty good. And it’s good to know that with all the little unexpected things, we’re not the only ones. This is parenthood at its finest. This is the stuff memories are made from…and used later to embarrass your mouthy teenager in front of her friends.