Our first family vacation

And let’s be honest, I’m using the term vacation loosely here.

As I write this this we’re driving back from Hilton Head. Not quite a real vacation, because I firmly believe you cannot have a real vacation with two toddlers. But it was a trip, with the four of us – and it was great family time. Overall, it went pretty well and I’d rate it a success. There were parts that were wonderful and fun and memorable… and then there were parts that were not. Like every time we had to eat outside of the hotel room. That sucked. Or when the kids had to sit still for any amount of time. That sucked too. But when they could run and play – pure joy.

Our trip seemed to amplify their behavior. It was like the fun times were much better than normal – like when they got to play at this awesome park, or when we were at the beach. They had a blast, and Blake and I just loved knowing how much fun they were having. But then the rough times were also exaggerated, partly due to them being out of their sleep routine and the number of times that they were required to “behave.” Having to eat out for 5 meals (in 3 days) meant a lot of behavior enforcement. Something that I realize I’m not very good at. The theoretical me is stern and means business and demands the kids behave. The real me just doesn’t quite measure up. Blake, on the other hand, is AWESOME at this. I almost don’t ever want to leave the house without him again. Seriously.

This morning Brogan proudly said to me, after he had successfully inserted a straw into a pouch drink, “I’m really good at getting drinks. But I’m not really good at listening.” So astute – a pretty good summation of our oldest – very independent and talented (in things other than fixing his own drinks), but just not able to listen to what we say. But I don’t feel like this defined our trip. When I look back on it, I will think about the boys having to share a pullout couch bed and sleep together – and them kicking and aggravating each other like brothers. Or bothering each other on a tire swing like brothers.

Boys on tire swing

I’ll think about us being able to give them undivided attention for 3 days – to be void of our normal responsibilities like work and cooking and dishes. I’ll think about my newfound appreciation for all that my husband does with and for the kids. How he saves us in the way he demands that they behave, and all the kid-duty he picks up when he bathes them and was able to get them to bed each night.

Blake enforcing

I’ll think about how the boys just love their daddy and how much fun they had spending time with him now that he’s around more.

Daddy and Beckett Daddy and Brogan

I’ll think about how the boys danced and danced to live music at Harbour Town.

Dancing boys

I’ll think about how Brogan talked his way onto another musician’s stage so that he could sing his favorite song.

I’ll think of this time as the first of many family trips – and hopefully real vacations one day. Someone with older kids, please tell me that this does eventually happen…

Family trip

The things I used to take for granted

I write this post from the plane, on our way back from a much-needed vacay to Vegas for my husband’s 30th birthday. This was a kid-free trip, and while I knew we needed to recharge, I was reminded of the simple things that we used to take for granted – before we were parents.

Sleep. Uninterrupted sleep that begins and ends when you say so. There is a tiredness associated with parenthood that is incomparable to any other cause of fatigue. Yes, you can be tired from a late night of partying, an all-nighter studying or an overnight shift at work. But the parent version of tired is different because it is unending – there is no reprieve in sight. Pre-kids, I never fully appreciated the luxury of sleep. I do now, and so every sans kid vacation for the foreseeable future will allow me some time to sleep more than I can at home.

Free time. Having nothing to do and no one to take care of was awesome. At home, even when there is “free time” it’s not really free. If you manage to steal away an hour while the kids are sleeping, even if you’re doing nothing, the weight of responsibility for all the things that you could or should be doing is always present. The cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, household projects, yard work, work related work, and the list continues. This too I took for granted before babies. I used to think I was so busy! Ha!

Eating. Eating where you are only concerned about feeding yourself. Not fixing plates, cutting up food, teaching manners, cleaning up messes, wiping mouths, refilling drinks, encouraging good eating, and getting to take a bite only in between feeding the little one who will squeal (and by squeal I mean high-pitch scream) when he wants more food (more on this fun behavior trait in a later post). No, before kids I never thought that eating a nice dinner with only adults would be such an indulgence. But it is, and we enjoyed it!

Food in vegas

Time with the hubs. Let’s face it, kids are stressful. They can create stress in even the best marriages. Sometimes you need to just be spouses again and not have to play the role of parents. A lot of our conversations were still centered on the kids, but we didn’t have to deal with the in-your-face responsibility of the kids. There were no “not it” conversations around the dirty diapers, no figuring out who will give baths. When we were a family of two, I did not fully appreciate this time. But I welcomed it on this trip. It was just us, being the “us” that we were the five years together before we had kids. It was great.

We always knew we wanted to be parents. We wanted to have kids right away and were pregnant before our one-year anniversary. It turned out for us that the grass was greener – being parents is awesome! We wouldn’t trade our side of the pasture for anything. But it is nice now and again to hop back over the proverbial fence and enjoy some of those green patches too.

Jess and Blake in Vegas