Part Two of Beach Trip Reflections:
I didn't mention yesterday that on our recent trip to the beach, we traveled with our good friends. This is the first time, ever, that Paul and I have traveled with other people besides family.
We learned a lot.
We learned that we are living in the calm before the storm. Our friends have a daughter who is almost two and a son that is Owen's age. In other words, BOTH of their children are FULLY MOBILE. It's madness. A lot of fun, but madness nonetheless.
I've had several friends who have had their second child over the last year. We all say the same thing, "What the hell were we complaining about when we watched ONE baby?"
I recall with crystal clarity the stress I felt when Paul went away on business and I watched six-month-old Owen...all by myself. Yes, non-walking, contained-in-a-crib, non-mouthy baby Owen. I felt like such a martyr. When, oh when, would I get a break?
Now, when I'm only watching Joel, I consider it "time off." Babies are easy. Mostly.
Since Joel still sleeps in a crib, happily, and doesn't yet walk, we still have the ability to contain the little guy.
Now, vacationing with two toddlers who can walk, talk, upend sugar containers and dart off into traffic? That'll keep you hopping. That is our future.
I mentioned that I learned a lot from these friends. What I learned is that there's two ways to approach life with young children: you can hunker down and be married to a schedule to the point of absurdity OR you can take your kids out into the world and expect a little chaos.
Since I believe that we are a family, and we need to experience the world as a family, the occasional soupcon of chaos is acceptable. We can make the world safe and predictable, but we also need to allow space for serendipity. That doesn't happen without risk.
I'm looking forward to traveling with these friends again. They were low-key travel companions. We met up when we could; didn't stress when we couldn't. More importantly, we understood that traveling with children has unique challenges, and did our best to just make it work.
So, for next year, my friend suggested that we leash all four children together and bring along soda cans full of rocks and spray bottles of water. I think this idea is brilliant.
Come to Delaware mid-June next year, and you'll see two four year old boys, a glasses-wearing two year old, and a three-year old girl. You'll see crumbs and discarded juice boxes in our wake. We will be slightly dazed, possibly twitchy. Hopefully, though, we will be seeing the absurd joy of the moment.