We just returned from a vacation. That’s what we used to call spending days away from our daily life and the city: “vacation.” I have heard traveling with children referred to as a “working vacation,” or at least downgraded to a “trip.” I am not sure what to call this recent madness–the continuous din of whining, round-the-clock “why mommy‘s,” and the layer of wet sand that covered our hotel room floor.
Our beach trip was planned on an impulse, as most foolish ventures are. We had not made any plans for the summer; I found myself on a hotel website one night staring at a picture of two beach chairs with fancy cocktails on a table between them. I booked the room and made an appointment for a bikini wax the next day.
Two years ago we drove the three children (two four month olds and one almost two year old) and the dog to Cape Cod for a week, and then to the Connecticut coast for a second week. We had rented our vacation houses while I was still pregnant that winter. It seemed like it was possible at the time. I swear.
Here are some of the highlights from that trip, not captured in photos: we were stuck in nine hours of traffic driving there, it was the hottest August ever in New England, the television didn’t work, there was a coyote, we had our first peanut allergy experience, and we left the Connecticut house 15 minutes after our arrival once we realized a 1700’s historic home with original floors, doors and furniture was not a safe environment for infants and a toddler. And that children are not safe for a 1700’s historic home.
This was the first day of our Cape Cod 2009 adventure.
This was any other day.
And here is a fun memory of M refusing to walk on the sand. (How do two adults carry two infants in car seats plus one toddler plus towels, tents, diapers, bottles and food to the beach from the car and back again? Not gracefully. And not without cursing.)
Of course I am exaggerating a little bit of the misery of being away for ten days that August. After all, we did decide to take another beach trip. Two years later. For two days. With my mother in the adjoining room. In a hotel where other people clean up.
Our recent get away (is it really a “get away” if you bring everything with you?) was different as the kids are older–all walking, running, climbing and yelling. Two are still in diapers, but at least they all enjoyed the water and the sand (eventually). There were many new experiences for them. And for us.
So, the point of this post is not to convince parents to give up vacationing (or whatever it shall henceforth be known as). While I am being completely honest when I say I wanted to bang my head repeatedly into the glove compartment during the nine-hour drive to Hyannis, while searching for photos to post here, I did remember very sweet moments from that summer trip. H and E were still swaddled at night to sleep. There was a carousal in town that we went on with M over and over and over again. We drank wine and listened to Pandora radio at night on the deck–just us, not the kids.
We are lucky we can go to pretty places with our children. There is not a moment of relaxation for my husband or me, but I hope we will have more opportunities to be exhausted, stressed out, yelling-at-each-other messes outside the New York City limits. We do it to prove we can. We do it for the hysterical, adorable, blurry pictures. We do it for the memories, of course.