This past weekend marked yet another pregnancy/life milestone for me... my final vacation as a free and independent woman with no one to worry about but herself and maybe a dog or two. The absolute truth of that statement was put into extreme focus for me by the fact that I shared said vacation with my two lovely friends and their adorable 6 month old baby girl. First let it be said that there are few things more delightful than happy baby, let alone a happy baby at the beach discovering that big old bathtub that is the ocean.
But I did have moments when I realized just how different my future vacations would be. As I watched the Bridges family experience their first beach trip together, I couldn't help but catalog all of the ways that the very meaning of the word "vacation" changes from pre- to post-baby.
1. Packing. Gone are the days of shoving summer clothing and a bathing suit into a duffel bag (although I'm not really sure that Katie ever could have packed that way... still.). Due to car difficulties, we were forced to find ways to cram an unbelievable amount of stuff into small spaces, which only made it even more abundantly clear just how much STUFF we had to take. There's the diaper bag and the pack-and-play and the bumbo seat and the bouncy chair and the stroller and the car seat and the other bag and the suitcase... And I stood there studying my bag of dog food and my duffel bag fondly, realizing that they would soon just be one of many bags being stuffed into the trunk whenever we travel.
2. Driving. Again, because of car issues this became more of a problem for us than it might have been otherwise. But the fact that both Katie and I were lusting after VANS is very telling. And you can't just up and leave whenever the mood strikes you either... there is some serious scheduling to be considered.
3. Sleeping in. It doesn't happen. Which is just a sad, sad thing.
4. Eating out. A leisurely, quiet meal at a river-side cafe is very different when you throw a baby in the mix. Of course since she's so stinkin' cute a number of people have to come up and tell you how stinkin' cute she is. And then there is the pacifier throwing and the squealing and the "Wait... what time did she eat? Do you think she's tired? Have you checked her diaper?".
5. Relaxing on the beach. After slathering on sunscreen in triple-digit SPF, loading a wagon full of chairs and an umbrella, and treking down to the shore, I usually look forward to a good couple hours of sitting and doing nothing, perhaps interrupted by a stroll along the waterline. But you have to consider diaper changes and eating schedules and how hot the baby might be, even in the shade of the wobbly umbrella, and whether or not the stroller will roll well enough on the sand. This got me to thinking about the time in the not so distant future when we have not just babies with us but KIDS. Kids who can TALK and WALK and express their needs and wants and opinions and tell you that they are BORED with sitting. I have a feeling that will be an even longer blog entry...
6. Leaving to go back home. Katie and Stephen were already discussing plans for a "real vacation" when they could leave the baby with grandparents. So they could do some of that wonderful sleeping in, eating out stuff. I wonder if my parents have plans for next summer...