When we first had baby Ray, some friends came over and asked if we were going to be “camper baby” parents. I was a bit confused by this, but they went on to explain, “You know the parents that just pack up and take the baby everywhere, almost like they didn’t have one.”
Well, of course. Baby’s are so portable. I’ve never understood why anyone wouldn’t.
Until this trip.
Three weeks ago, the boy, Ray and I set out on a two week trip to Michigan. We were going to visit his parents’ lake house or “cottage” as they call it up north. The boy is from Michigan and he and I have spent every July 4th at their cottage on a quaint little island since we were dating. Its so very beautiful and I was excited for Ray to be joining us.
We spent two full days driving to our destination: 1,105 miles. Yes, we could’ve flown. Except, I have a massive fear of flying. I know its “safe”, but until they do something about all that turbulence, I’m not buyin’ it. Also, this way we could take all the baby supplies we wanted, stop when we needed, enjoy the ride and listen to some podcasts.
I was nervous about baby Ray in the car. He’s only 2 months old and sometimes just getting through a day at home is a triumph, much less from New Orleans to Nashville. Then, only to wake up the next day and get from Nashville to Michigan. This was an ambitious plan. So we geared up with a car full: a pack ‘n play, my breast friend nursing pillow (which I LOVE by the way), a breast pump, cooler with milk containers and bottles, and most important grande iced mochas.
To my surprise, Ray rocked the car ride. He slept most of the time. There were only a handful of pull-over-now! moments. We’ll call that a total win.
It was the other 10 days of the trip that were so trying. I’m not a schedule person, so we weren’t following anything specific, but whatever groove we were in at home was working. Once we got to Michigan, our groove disappeared! Baby Ray’s naps and ability to go to sleep at night followed suit.
I spent full days trying to get him down. And let me tell you, once we missed that morning nap, it was over.
The boy and I tried everything: car rides, stroller rides, singing, swinging, nursing him. When you’re desperate, you don’t care what the books say to do or not to do. Its just grasping at straws, survival mode. We even tried cry it out one evening. Horrible fail.
I prayed a lot, kindly reminding God that I signed up for a good baby. Not a challenging one. But he didn’t zap baby Ray to sleep (as I was hoping), or even send an angel in the form of a nanny (a second best option).
I eventually had to accept that this vacation was not going to look like the vacation I had in mind. That carefree vacation that we’d enjoyed many previous summers. I lowered my expectations, and changed my perspective a bit. I tried to refocus on all that I could be grateful for, even in the midst of all the frustration and exhaustion. Things like this beautiful place, God’s never ending grace, and the wonderful homemade donuts that the local store on the island makes.
In the moments in which baby Ray did finally get down for a nap, I was extra grateful. I spent my time in my favorite swing overlooking the lake, buried in one of my new favorite books, Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott. The cool breeze tickled my legs and boats of all sizes and speeds hummed by.
The first few days we were there, we didn’t take Ray on the boat since he was so grumpy and refused to nap. Ironically, when we finally did take him, he went to sleep within minutes.
Its kinda funny how life works like this sometimes. Noted for the future, anyhow.
Hanging out on the boat was really nice, especially since the baby slept so well. Even this Texas girl got in the Michigan water (which I rarely do) and I was able to relax a little.
Currently, we are getting back into our groove at home. I don’t know if we’ll be the “camper baby” parents after all. I guess these are the things you learn along the way.
Our transition home hasn’t been totally seamless, but SO much better than vacation. I have about a month of maternity leave left, so I am trying to savor the days. You know, drink too much iced coffee, make a baby scrap book, snuggle Ray and meet up with friends. We went on our first family jog yesterday. It was mostly just jogging from one light pole to the next and taking a long walk break in between, but, hey, its a start. It feels so good to be able to work out again.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with a wonderful quote:
“Without revelation and reframing, life can seem like an endless desert of danger with scratchy sand in your shoes, and yet if we remember or are reminded to pay attention, we find so many sources of hidden water, so many bits and chips and washes of color, in a weed or the gravel or a sunrise. There are so many ways to sweep the sand off our feet. So we say, “Oh my God. Thanks.”
– From “Help, Thanks, Wow,” by Anne Lamott