So two parents get on a plane with a preschooler, a toddler and a newborn …
This sounds like the intro to a pretty good joke, but it will be our reality next week and I fear instead of a laugh it may end in divorce and/or a missing person’s (me) ad.
The thought of it makes me shudder, and combined with the task of packing those three kids and ourselves up for a week, it has me waxing nostalgic about vacations past. Way past.
Look at that spring chicken. She’s 29 years old. A baby. She’s on her honeymoon, which means she’s at a weight she’ll never see again. She’s seen the inside of a tanning bed for the last time. She looks relaxed, because she’s not worrying about things like button battery ingestion. She doesn’t look nauseous, because she hasn’t changed 7 blowouts in the last 24 hours. She looks put together, because she spent her spare ten minutes that morning applying makeup, not staring at a 3-year-old’s bare butt asking herself “pimple or staph infection?” I can’t remember what she and her husband were talking about before this picture was taken, but I know it wasn’t chapter three of Parenting with Love and Logic.
This picture was taken 4 years and 2 months ago. She’ll go on to spend 2 years and 3 months of that time pregnant, and the rest of it postpartum, which means she has only a month left of sleep that’s not being interrupted by trips to the bathroom or crying babies.
She hasn’t yet listened to “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” 2971565 times. She doesn’t know it yet, but soon she’ll be able to add “Ability to recite ‘Little Blue Truck’ by heart” to her resume … a resume that is rapidly becoming irrelevant.
The day after this picture is taken she and her husband will drive 3 dangerous hours to raft down a river and then drive 3 dangerous hours back (dangerous due more to the driver than the terrain). But she won’t bat an eye, because she hasn’t yet turned into the kind of hypochondriac that thinks every headache is an aneurysm that’s about to leave her children motherless.
She is the most relaxed she will ever be again. Does she appreciate it? Of course not … because she doesn’t know it.
I look at the girl in that picture and remember the kind of things she was worried about, and want to say “tell me more about this magical world you live in, where you can leave the house whenever you want. Tell me about the pedicure you got before this trip … don’t leave out a single detail.
Tell me about the long runs you went on so you’d fit in these clothes.
Tell me what your packing list looks like, because I know for sure it doesn’t look like this:
That girl was dreaming of her future, but I doubt she was picturing a list that included things like “snot sucker” and breast pump.
I also want to ask her how it felt packing for her just herself and therefore not sleeping in a bedroom that looked like this:
Twenty-nine year old Melissa has white teeth and tan skin, because she has energy for tooth whitening and tanning. Thirty-three year old Melissa is so ready for bed by 8:15 that she can’t even muster up the energy to slather herself with some Jergens Natural Glow or glob some whitening gel onto these teeth. As a result, my legs pass the “tissue test” while my teeth do not.
If I could go back in time and tell her to appreciate it – all the freedom she has – I would. But the best I can do for her is to appreciate now.
I spent my childhood dreaming of growing up, now I’m here and I dream about that care-free stage of life. I spend my current days dreaming about adult conversations and the ability to watch TV without having to mute it because Evelyn is scared of Arby’s commercials. But when they’re out of the house and grown, I’ll be yearning for these days.
I know for sure I will miss my son looking tiny while trying Daddy’s shoes in the morning before he leaves for work …
… and forget that he spent the rest of the morning doing this while I tried to get the baby to sleep:
I’ll probably think back on having all the kids together at the doctor for Lottie’s one month appointment and remember that Evelyn held her hand to help her be brave, while conveniently forgetting how often I had to yell at Alex to get out of the medical supply cabinet …
Or to stop trying to hack into the doctor’s computer system:
But while I may miss how cute and mini they will look in their airplane seats, I do think I can say with confidence that I will not miss changing blowout #8 in the airplane bathroom.
Wish me luck.