Posted by Kirsten Patel, Elementary Mommie-on-the-Run | Posted in Kirsten Patel | Posted on 06-04-2012
Is today Thursday or Friday? I have to really stop and think about that because when this is what you see when you look out the window it’s hard to concentrate on anything else.
So please forgive my day late post! We are enjoying spring break on the big island of Hawaii. It’s been lovely as I’m sure you can imagine. We don’t usually travel over spring break and the past three years we’ve been saying, “we should go to Hawaii.” But then we never actually plan the trip and then the next thing you know, it’s April and we spend the week at home. But this year, we kicked ourselves in the behind and here we are enjoying the sun, sand and lava rocks.
I think my husband and I were subconsciously terrified to bring our kids here. See, the last time we boarded a plane bound for the islands was eight years ago when my twin girls were 11 months old. Let me just repeat that for effect: we brought eleven month old twins to Hawaii with the intent of having a relaxing vacation. I had done my research and was well prepared. I had new toys for the airplane, a suitcase full of all their favorite snacks, hypoallergenic sunscreens, a portable DVD player and brand new Baby Einstein videos, etc. However, I was not prepared for the fact that my girls would be in the very beginning stages of learning to walk. I timed the flight so it would coincide with their naptime and game them the smallest possible dose of Benadryl. Sleeping was about the very last thing they were interested in doing on that plane. Once their crying stopped, my husband and I walked up and down those aisles endlessly for five hours. I was the mother that childless passengers hate and parents pity on airplanes.
Once we arrived in Hawaii, things got progressively worse. My girls never adjusted to the time change. At home, I was so regimented about their nap and sleep schedule that even the slight changes seemed to throw them off. The were up at 3am every day and just cried and cried. What I remember most about that trip is sitting in that hotel bed with a crying baby. I was so worried about disturbing other hotel guests, we made hurculean efforts to quell the crying madness.
They hated the beach. Every time their little toes touched the sand, the would scream. If the waves were large and we even came close to the sand they would cling to my legs in terror. They had zero interest in sitting in the stroller I had lugged all the way from SFO. They were anxious to walk, but of course, fell over after just a few steps. And the diaper rash. OMG, the diaper rash. They both developed horrible, blistering diaper rashes which would cause them to cry in pain for at least 10 minutes before and after every diaper change.
We even brought my mom along on the trip so we could possibly sneak away for dinner. She didn’t seem to adjust so well to island life either. What we didn’t know at the time was that she was about one month away from needed a triple bypass. While we thought she was just unwilling to really step in and help us out, she was actually quite ill. You can imagine this caused a little tension in our mother-daughter relationship during that trip.
I was feeling even more run down and stressed than I had since they were tiny newborns. My husband even tried to get us on an early flight home. When we were back at home I was complaining to my twin moms group about what a horrible trip it had been. A more experienced mother whose twins happened to be her 3rd and 4th child put her hand on my shoulder and said that vacations with kids are simply the same chaos in a prettier location.
The problem with that vacation eight years ago was not my daughters, it was my expectations. I really did think that a vacation in Hawaii would be the same as it was before we became parents. We would sit by the pool or on the beach and sip drinks while our toddlers played in the sand and took naps on beach chairs. Maybe it is like that for some families.
Lucky for me, kids grow older and moms grow wiser. This time we may have one more kid in tow, but we also have eight more years of parenting experience. My kids are now experienced airline passengers having flown to Europe and back two summers ago. They were perfectly fine on the airplane, pleasant and polite even. When they wake up at 5am Hawaii time, they sit in their bed and read for a while until the rest of the family wakes up. No one has diaper rash this time (THANK GOD) since no one wears diapers. They are eager to play on the beach now and are no longer terrified of the sound of crashing waves.
Of couse there have been arguments over who wants to go to the beach and who prefers the pool, who gets which bed and where we eat dinner. But they are old enough now that we can have discussions about what it means to be on a family vacation. It’s the same compromises and chaos, just with a prettier view.