Recently, Kathleen, Brandon, and I returned from a trip. I hesitate to say vacation, because anything involving a 1 year-old, very active child doesn't quite qualify as a vacation, or a date, or an outing, or really anything that has to do with leisure. We all drove out together to Brandon's parents' house in southwestern Missouri, with the 19-hour drive going miraculously smoothly, even without having to resort to Benadryl. Kathleen very much liked her grandparents' house that had the unimagined delights of cows (only if they are more than 3 feet away), a dog (the closer the better), cats, a light-up singing play gym (that will NEVER be purchased for home), and a gravel driveway.
After a week with her grandparents, uncles Brett and Adam, and an increasing number of cousins that eventually turned into a dull roar, Kathleen and I left Brandon in Kansas City, and flew further east to North Carolina (which did involve Benadryl) while Brandon returned home to Utah to work so he could pay for our plane ticket. After spending a few days at the other grandparents' house, which contained the unimaginable wonders of stairs, a deck, and a goldfish pond, we went down to the beach to meet up with more cousins. The beach had the best wonders of all: sand, more stairs, and the ocean. After two weeks of playing without Brandon, Kathleen and I headed home.
After having traveled for three weeks, two of them without my husband, I have realized several things about traveling with a child:
1. Regression. Despite eating the bulk of her nutrition in solid foods, Kathleen quit eating anything but a token amount, and so we were forced to supplement with (expensive) formula. Whoever designed babyfood in those neat glass jars obviously never designed them for babies that have only eaten table food. Despite all of the warnings against it, we had to add at least a teaspoon of salt to the squash before she would do anything but spit it out. As soon as we got home, of course, food was tasty again.
2. Solitude. Many parents enjoy keeping their children in their room. We do not. Upon waking in the middle of the night, Kathleen discovered that she didn't just have her teddy bear to keep her company - she had her favorite friends - Mom and Dad! A vacation is not a vacation when no matter how late one stays up to spend time with relatives, one's child is still the first up. In the entire house.
3. Attachement. After so much time with just Kathleen and me, I was looking forward to having other people to share my entertainment burden. However, the more people around who would absolutely love to play with her, the more Kathleen wants to play with Mom.
4. Bravery. More bravery than brains. Kathleen's favorite activity at the beach was to sit in the waves, letting the water wash over her until a wave knocked her down. Then she would crawl down further so the water was even deeper.
5. Single parenting. All of the problems above are only made worse by being the only parent around. I've also realized that the nicer your surroundings are without your spouse, the more you miss them. On the upside, however, when I finally arrived home after more than two weeks of absence, Brandon was possibly more excited see me than I was to see him. He had even made me dinner. And for the next week, he kept exclaiming how wonderful it was to have someone who knew how to run the household; perhaps every wife and mother should take a few weeks off to show everyone just exactly what they're missing. For this right now, however, I'm glad to be home.