On getting away… but realizing that we can’t escape
Sometimes, we plan ourselves a little mini-vacation. We go somewhere where the sun almost always shines in order to break up our rainy winter here in Western Oregon.
Pulling off a trip out-of-town, even the most mini of mini-vacations, requires lots of work and mega-list-making. We do laundry, meal plan, food shop, and pack. We spend about as much time working to make the trip happen as we’ll actually spend away, but we know it will be worth it. We’ll soak up some UV, strap on snowshoes and get away from the world, enjoy good adult conversations with friends, and escape our career and stay-at-home-mom worlds.
And we pull it off. After two hours of songs, hand games, iPad apps, snacks, and just a little whining, we make it to a cabin where we’ll spend a long weekend with dear friends and their little boy, just a few weeks older than BabyC. We start to plan a weekend of fun activities together.
Only problem is, we are already exhausted. BabyC has been working on a couple of new teeth, so she’s not in the best of spirits. She and I have both been up every night for the past week. I have a cold and am feeling worn down. Husband has been working hard and just wants to sleep.
Still, Saturday morning welcomes us with a few inches of fresh snow, blue sky, and warm sun. We are determined to get out and enjoy it, so we plan a snowshoeing trip after our kiddos have had their naps.
We head back West, into the mountains. As we turn onto the main road, I lament that I forgot to bring sunscreen. A few minutes later, the sun is gone, and Husband remarks that the outdoor temperature has dropped 10 degrees in as many miles. We climb up a mountain pass as the snow flurries start. By the time we have arrived at the trailhead, the snow is dumping. We start to bundle up our kids and ourselves, but after a couple of minutes of standing in that weather, we admit that our babies are not going to be happy about hiking in these conditions. We tell ourselves that if it wasn’t for them, we would definitely want to go for it, but being responsible parents, we re-pack the cars, put the kids back in their car seats, and head back down the mountain.
It turns out that responsible parents would have turned around at the first little flurry on that mountain, because getting back down was pretty treacherous. We had to stop to put chains on our tires. Husband, white-knuckled, drove carefully and slowly, while I pulled out all the stops to keep BabyC content in her car seat in the backseat.
The score on Saturday night: Mountain, 1. Escape plans, 0.
On Sunday, we again consider staying at the cabin and just relaxing, but we are determined to take advantage of our last day of sunshine. So we take our second attempt at snowshoeing, this time going East, where bad weather would be less likely to find us.
Fifteen minutes down the road, BabyC gives me a scared little look and then pukes up an entire bowl of oatmeal. I pull out baby wipes and dog towels and get her cleaned up. Just a little car-sickness, I think. But then up comes another bowl of oatmeal, raisins and all. We turn around and head back to the cabin, where BabyC continues to puke all afternoon. Poor kid.
Score on Sunday night: Mountain, 1. Stomach bug, 1. Escape plans, 0.
Here’s the thing: no matter where you go, you can’t escape the responsibility of keeping your baby safe in a snowstorm. You can’t escape the occasional stomach bug. You can’t escape teething or sleep deprivation. Once a parent, you can’t escape parenting.
What can you do? You can play in the snow with the kiddos in the driveway. You can watch your child reconnect with her first friend. You can sit in a chair by the window with a cup of tea, sunlight streaming in. You might even be able to sip it for a few minutes before your toddler decides to start climbing on the furniture in the non-childproofed house. After the kids are asleep, you can share a bottle of wine with good friends and have some adult conversation, even if your definition of that has now been stretched to include preschool decisions, toddler sleep, and picky eating. You can play a competitive game of Scrabble – just forgive yourself if you can’t quite finish the game. You might rather go to bed early. You can adjust your expectations.
It isn’t an escape, but it is a change of pace. Sometimes that is enough.
But oh, when you pack up for a weekend such as this, you should know that bringing 20 papers on infant sleep with you doesn’t mean that you’ll get to read them. I’m not sure when you thought you’d have the time for that.
Suffice it to say, I’m a little behind on the sleep research. I’ll be posting my next sleep article in a few days. I would apologize, but I know you understand.