|Photo courtesy of my five year old daughter who loves to sneak my camera!|
Yesterday a friend was driving us home from the airport and he commented that he could never spend a vacation just sitting around. He likes to get out and do things. I couldn't be more different. Now, if I were setting out to tour St. Petersburg, of course I would spend each day tromping through the city with a guide book in hand. But I didn't go to St. Petersburg, I went to Paradise. And all I wanted was to do was sit in the sun and read. And drink virgin fruit smoothies.
At one point during the week I righteously informed my husband that every moment I wasn't sitting in the sun reading represented a supreme act of self discipline on my part. Because I get that when you have three young kids you can't (and shouldn't) abandon them all week in favor of paperback novels, as tempting as that might be. So instead I did my best to walk the tight rope between both worlds.
We played in the pool and I helped dig a moat for their sand castle. We looked for shells, stood on the beach to watch the whales swimming out in the ocean, and hung out in the hot tub. But then there are the less glorious aspects of parenting, like air travel. We started and ended our trip with puking kids on the airplane. At one point we had two girls heaving into air sickness bags at the exact same time. On our return flight I awoke at two in the morning to find that one child had wet her pants in her sleep, and we were left with a puddle of urine on the plane seat, and no change of clothes. For a brief moment I put my face in my hands, tired and despairing. When I looked up a young, single guy sitting across the aisle was watching me curiously. As I initiated Project Clean Up the Pee he quickly looked away. Suddenly I felt like shouting, "Get that disgusted expression off your face. YOU have no idea! Just go back to sleep in your clean, pee-free seat over there!" I'm glad I kept my composure, because the fun just didn't stop. Our connecting flight was delayed, and we spent hours in the airport trying to soothe our exhausted, wild-eyed, hysterical little girls.
When we finally landed in Denver we were met by a blowing snowstorm. The temperature was in the teens and we fell into bed last night feeling fairly certain that school would be cancelled today. It was. And I am basking in the unexpected pajama day that is allowing us to more gracefully cross back over into Real Life. A friend asked me on the phone this morning if I felt bummed out by the freezing weather. I'm not, and to be truthful it somehow felt completely appropriate. If I have to say goodbye to a tropical paradise, I might as well return to snow.
I think these sort of polar opposites often define the lives of young parents. One moment you're lazying around in a lounge chair reading about the intrigues of the Queen of England circa 1471. There is a rooster cawing in the background, and waves crashing. You can hear the delightful shriek of your children as they splash water on each other. But in the next moment it is YOU they are splashing cold water on. I love the feeling of my skin being hot enough to fry an egg and the glare of the sun hurting my eyes. But when the sandpail full of icy water arrives, really the only thing to do is to jump in!
So we're going to go sledding this afternoon.