As some of you know, we just returned from a two week trip to Alaska to celebrate Phil's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. The trip was positively amazing and Alaska was beautiful. We saw, among other things, whales, orcas, Dall's sheep, caribou, moose, bald eagles, sea lions, salmon swimming upstream, glaciers calving, rainforests where the ground was totally covered with ferns, and days with almost 24 hours of sunlight. The trip also taught me a few things:
1) I would not have made a good stay-at-home mother. After two weeks of being an always-on parent, I am so ready to return Lil' Bit to her child care provider and head back off to work. Don't get me wrong. I loved spending time with her and watching her grow (she crawled for the first time on the trip!). But, I would not be a good stay-at-home parent. I would lose my s**t faster than a man about to be hit by a freight train. I give props to all those parents who manage it. You have special skills that I do not possess. You are amazing. Me, not so much. I'm going back to the work world to regain my sanity.
2) I sacrifice my comfort for others. Lil' Bit did amazing on this trip all told. In fact, I've never heard so many people tell me how well-behaved my child is. Of course, these were not the people who slept in the rooms next to us at various points along the way. So, in an effort to reduce the screaming, I gave in and let Lil' Bit sleep with me several nights. We also rocked her to sleep in our arms for most naps and bedtime. Combined with the fact that we were all sleeping in the same room for two weeks, and the fact that we shot Lil' Bit's schedule to hell, and you have a nightmare to break her of all these bad habits on our return. There has been a great deal of screaming and crying--on everybody's part--to get things back to some semblance of order. I'm actually hoping that getting her back to the childcare provider will help bring back some sense of order. But, I digress. The lesson I learned was, I was willing to have Lil' Bit learn bad habits on the trip and then spend my time and energy breaking her of them on our return in an effort to reduce the screaming that would disrupt others' vacations.
3) Vacations with children require additional vacation time to recover from. I remember those quaint days back before we had children and I used to joke that I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation. Yeah. Well, with kids, that is even more true. Hauling around extra luggage, doing tons of laundry on the return, stressing out about how many people are bothered by the fussing and whether the kid will be a good traveler, whether I am making enough of an effort to quiet my child to not be seen as a delinquent parent, making sure not to leave anything important behind, etc, etc. I loved the trip. It was amazing and wonderful and I would do it again. But I would not call it a vacation.
4) There are many beautiful places in the world that I will never live; Alaska is one of them. July and August are positively beautiful months to visit. But, I saw and heard more than enough to know that this is not the place for someone who hates snow. Heck, I still can't believe people live in the UP, let alone that whole country of people north of that (Canada, I'm talking about you). We heard stories from all kinds of people who apparently went to visit Alaska and just decided to stay. I think it is fairly safe to say that I will not be one of those people--especially after learning that a single container of Oreos cost $7 and all the fixin's on a Subway sandwich aren't free!
5) I have great in-laws. I spent two weeks with my in-laws and had a wonderful time. We traveled together, ate together, told stories, played with each others kids, and had a fabulous time. I am so lucky to have two families--that of my origin and that which I married into--where I can be me and have a great time.
6) Cruiseship personnel love babies. Everywhere we went on the ship, people called out to our baby by name. Walk into the restaurant for dinner at night and it was like a receiving line as three or four people, from the hostess to the head waiter, would take a few seconds to smile and tickle Lil' Bit. Walking down the hall one day, we heard two women talking. One said, "Aww, that is the cutest baby." The other replied, "Oh, that's [Lil' Bit]." The photographers taking candid photos at dinner took one each of the adults, but three or four of her. She was the center of attention, she knew it, and she LOVED it. We are so screwed.
So, all in all, an amazing trip with good opportunities for personal growth, but I am glad to be home in my own bed.