Traveling with children doesn’t suck for everyone. I know this because I have friends who post beautiful pictures online of their children in Belize or Australia, doing awesome things like feeding a wallaby or swimming with dolphins. These are NOT my children. If my kids encountered a dolphin they would probably scream uncontrollably and kick its cute little bottle nose.
My kids are not and have never been good travelers. Even a brief trip across town requires Dramamine or I will be left cleaning barfed up scrambled eggs out of a car seat. For those who don’t know, cleaning vomit out of a car seat requires the precision of brain surgery, but it smells worse.
Knowing this does not stop me from planning trips like the one we just returned from, which was a 3-day excursion to Austin. I’m not sure what exactly transpired after we left the driveway because I was too busy screaming one of countless demands, such as “Let go of your sister,” “Get out of our your sister’s space,” or “Get your finger out of your sister’s nose!” You get the point.
Here’s a parenting fact no one warns you about: children are pretty much guaranteed to catch a random disease on every trip they take. Grown-ups get sick on vacations too, of course. I heard a story once about a man who was bitten by a monkey in Costa Rica and came home preferring men to women, but that’s a different story for a different blog. However, grown-ups don’t ALWAYS get sick on vacation and kids always do. A child with a plane ticket will within 24 hours pick up a virus that keeps them up coughing all night or give them explosive diarrhea. Sometimes both.
Lucy got a staph infection in her nose on this trip. At first it resembled a case of overzealous nose picking. Within hours it appeared she had a crustacean crawling from one nostril. Twenty-four hours later, its offspring had moved in next door. Fortunately it didn’t hurt and Lucy enjoyed being gross in the way that only a 5-year-old can. The other folks at our hotel weren’t quite as enthusiastic. Imagine a trip through the breakfast buffet and how it would be affected if the kid in line behind you had Krusty the Krab on her face. Those scrambled eggs wouldn’t taste quite the same.
I was recounting the whole scenario to my Dad over the phone later when I realized something shocking.
Our trip had actually been wonderful.
I told him about the cave tour we took and the girls’ excitement as we watched a million bats fly over Austin. I told him about Emma and how she spotted multiple roadrunners and then we laughed about Lucy’s nose-funk until we were almost crying.
That’s when I realized our trip was nothing short of magical. I just hadn’t realized it because I was too busy being a MOM. And then I felt guilty, because any true feeling about parenting must be accompanied by GUILT, for some reason.
So maybe my kids aren’t the problem. Maybe I’M the problem, and I’ll try to remember that on our next big trip, which is just a few weeks away. This time I promise to focus on the positives and how the experience is enriching my children. I promise to let go of the little things and try my hardest to be IN THE MOMENT.
But we all know I’ll probably just end up cleaning scrambled-egg-vomit out of a rental car…again.