Once upon a time, there lived a girl who loved to travel. Then she had children. The end.
No, seriously though, I used to be one of those smug twenty-somethings who thought she’d forego Disney for family trips to Europe. Two kids later, and I pray to the altar of these unicorn parents who manage even day trips to Six Flags. I’ve read a few of these articles about how parents should “take the trip anyway” and whatnot. Those people are crazy. My husband and I tell scary stories to each other at night about our trip to Martha’s Vineyard last summer. Hell, I’ve taken epic, story-worthy trips to the library with my kids. I am (hopefully temporarily) cured of the travel bug.
But sometimes as a parent, you have to do what you have to do, right? A few weeks ago, two of my best friends in the whole world had a major family emergency, and I had to be there. Non-negotiable. And given that I’m also non-negotiably a mom to two
feral animals beautiful little girls and wife to a husband who works A LOT, I suddenly was in the position of making a three-hour drive and a three-day visit on my own. That is, with the children.
Guess what – we lived! Here’s a rundown of some of our fails, wins, and lessons learned.
Fail: The tantrums. I’m sure it was a combination of the change in their schedules, the excitement, the bribery sugar, and bad naps. But holy shit, we were on like a tantrum an hour. I wish I had funny stories for them, but I don’t. It was just like, “Nope, I’m bored so I’m going to scream until you remove my from my high chair and then insist on lying on the floor for the duration of the meal.” Cool.
Fail: Losing my shit. By the third day, I’d had it. I’m not proud of it, but I completely lost my mind on my three-year-old. In my defense, SHE was melting down over the fact that the strawberry ice cream I got her for lunch (bribery sugar) had actual strawberries in it. But yeah, it was an ugly and regrettable moment that happened publicly, and I know that we both felt terrible after.
Fail: The garbage dump that was my car. A picture is worth a thousand words, no? A perfect illustration of what life with two kids is like!
Fail: Lack of snacks. The fact that I thought MY processed-food-junkies would survive for three days on a couple bags of popcorn and some Pirate’s Booty was incredibly naive of me. We eventually ended up at a Wal-Mart and straight up emptied their snack aisle into our cart. Lesson learned: snacks are vital to life. And toddlers require food pouches for survival no matter how far they are from home.
Win: We made some great memories. It’s cheesy but true. Looking through the many pictures I took of our little trip, my girls appear to have had a blast. My oldest isn’t saying to me, “Mom, remember when I had that ridiculous tantrum?” She remembers swimming in the hotel pool and listening to music from Trolls and sleeping in bed with mom and dancing with her friend.
Win: My confidence as a mom is through the roof. Not like the roof of the Sistine Chapel, more like the roof of a Barbie dream house, but a roof nonetheless. I feel like I earned some really special mommy merit badge or something. (Said badge has a dirty SUV with two crying kids in the back.) Now I’m like, “Hey, let’s walk on the wild side and play in the FRONT yard today, girls!” Rockstar mom over here.
Win: We got to be there for our friends. Maybe we aren’t heading off on a tropical adventure anytime soon, but we’ll have time for that later. The fact that we are able to pick ourselves up with very little notice and be present when our friends needed us means everything. I can’t ask for much more than that.
My big lesson learned is that… I should always take the trip. Damn you, other mommy bloggers! I will say, don’t do it to say you did it. Do it when you have to, when you want to, and when it matters. Tantrums and messes aside, you’ll be glad you did.