Dear Moms of teensy tinies who traveled this Christmas,
Let me let you in on a little bitty secret….
IT GETS EASIER!
Traveling with little ones is the ultimate test of a parent’s will and resolve. How important is that family gathering? How will you get there? What will transit behold?
I don’t mean to be a know it all, but I have done it all. Arranged traveling around naps and nursing. We have peed off the side of every road for a 500-mile stretch. We have scooped them out of their beds at 2am, and driven through their sleep time. We’ve left late at night and arrived at the destination upon their waking, losing days of sleep to avoid the torture of entertaining three rowdy confined creatures. Timing is everything with babies and if something is even slightly askew, the whole trip is vulnerable to devastation of epic proportion.
One time we were traveling home on the Fourth of July. Zachary was 3 months old. We had so many diapers and nighttime pull-ups in our vehicle we scarcely had room for our shoes. He had an ear infection (like he ALWAYS did) and was particularly fussy. He had finally settled down and we were making good time in no traffic on a stretch of highway with no curves. All was quiet. All were resting peacefully. Until we saw the patriotic lights behind us. They weren’t fireworks. We were getting pulled freaking over. I desperately tried to convince Michael to call 911 and simply explain the situation. “If the operator is a mom, she will understand. We can probably just pay the ticket by debit over the phone. There really is no need to pull over.” He didn’t think I was serious. But I was. As a heart-attack. My heart-attack. I appreciate our law enforcement and all, but that day…WHEN HE WOKE UP MY SLEEPING BABY….
I have been soooooooooo exhausted as a result of traveling. The packing, planning, organizing, and executing a family vacation is worthy of a Lifetime Achievement Award. I pack outfits by days, in birth order, and sometimes in multiple suitcases for multiple locations. My sister-in-law just executed a 12-day trip in two countries, the detail of which included such intricate things as mailing my mom her van key (long story). Is that incredible? Mama has skill.
We just got home from a Christmas trip, hauling back with us a wrecked vehicle on a rented trailer and loot from FIVE Christmas celebrations. THAT’S RIGHT. FIVE. Times three boys. The amount of remote control boats, Skylanders, and AA batteries we toted is enough to supply radio shack for a year. Luckily my hubby excelled at Tetris as a child, because he had our car packed with zero amount of space wasted. And we could access lunchmeat from the cooler at the first mention of hunger. Our extra cargo has slowed our average travel time by an hour. BUT…not to worry. Our kids are traveling champs.
We started them young. Nolan was 11 weeks when we made our inaugural parental road trip. On an 8-hour trip, he woke once, when we stopped. I fed him, changed him, and he slept the rest of the way. So obviously we thought we could handle anything. The second child was slightly different. The screaming seemed endless, and I would take him out of his seat for no reason. I became able to change a diaper without dislodging him from his seat. The dexterity that resulted is resume worthy. The third one came and at 8 weeks, we drove to the mountains and forgot to strap him in his seat at all. He was tiny. We felt awful. But now he’s five and tracks our miles, alerts us at each state crossing, and never ever complains.
Kids are incredibly resilient. It’s the parents who are less so.
They will fall back into routine after a weird off day. They will still eat their vegetables because you will offer it to them without the threat of a giant gingerbread house lurking nearby. They will not be damaged for life because you lost it on I-95 over a spilled sippy cup of purple Gatorade. Let me test-i-fy.
I PROMISE it gets more fun. I PROMISE it is worth it. I PROMISE they remember. Today’s trip was long, but almost effortless on my part. I am NOT KIDDING. My kids are road warriors. Yes, we let them watch movies, but y’all, only about half the time. We played the alphabet game, three different ways. Nolan read an entire novel. Josiah made me a bracelet. And Zachary, about 15 minutes from home, said he wished he could sit in my lap. Obviously, I became a booster seat. (If you think I would turn that down, you are out your mind.) That was when he said, “Let’s talk about Christmas…”
Though he received infinity gifts this year, I asked what his favorite gift was. Do you know what he said, WITHOUT HESITATION??
“Mom, I think family is the gift.”
His response, pure, thoughtful, and certain, was the sweetest gift I received this season.
Moms, it is worth the effort in the end. Stay strong. They will get bigger and have bigger bladders and bigger attention spans. And you will survive right through this really hard phase and it will be but a blink.
In the meantime, make it bearable for yourself by not setting unrealistic expectations, always packing extra wipes, and unapologetically stopping for coffee, as the crises require.
A Mom who’s been there