I must apologize for my blogging absence. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. Let’s just say I was gathering research for my next post. See, we left a week and a half ago for our long-awaited summer vacation to Vancouver and our family cabin in the Shuswap. Since then, I’ve learned so much more about travelling with a baby. It’s been an adjustment not just travelling, but vacationing as well. We started our trip from Calgary at 9:30 pm after packing up our little SUV with all the necessities for baby followed by whatever we could fit for us and King the dog. We actually bought a roof rack so we could travel comfortably. Poor M had his work cut out for him in packing everything inside like a giant puzzle of stuff (he did a great job, by the way).
We prefer to travel at night as the highway isn’t as crammed with holiday drivers, trailers and people who don’t know how to highway drive. This worked out perfectly for Sofia too; she’d sleep through the whole 6 hour trip. This would turn out to be a lot easier back in the day when we didn’t have a job and a baby sucking our energy during the day…we were exhausted 2 hours into the trip and had to pull over for a highway nap. An hour and a half later I took the wheel, feeling marginally refreshed and just wanting to get the trip over with. We made it by 5:30 am and collapsed into bed, free from the shackles of the daily grind.
The plan was to have a rest day at the cabin and continue on to Van, which ended up being very wise. We made it to Vancouver safely. Sofia was proving to be a good little traveller, only getting upset on the tail end of the trip as we crawled through traffic from Surrey to Vancouver proper in the rare 30˚ heat. We stayed in a short term vacation rental so we’d have all the comforts of home. Not many of the vacation rentals that we looked at really liked the idea of having little ones, but I persuaded our hosts, convincing them that we had a very quiet 6 month old baby. I soon learned that was not the case…my quiet 6 month old was learning to test the limits of her voice and had started screaming…so much so that she was hoarse…and NOT sleeping through the nights as she had been the last 4 months or so. I chalked it up to the inevitable change in schedule that comes with travelling…all the books I read warned me of this. I was prepared, however my body was not. The 3 am wakings were rough and out of desperation I gave in and brought her to bed with me with a boob in her mouth. I was fully aware that I was potentially creating a problem by giving in, but I was just so tired.
Our time in the city was wonderful. We stayed in Kitsilano, a neighborhood close to the beach and crawling with hipsters. The purpose of our visit was to attend a friend’s wedding, which was beautiful. By the time the reception rolled around, we were exhausted. Even this was a bit of an adjustment for us. Normally we’d be all over the dance floor but we could barely keep ourselves upright. Sofia made friends all over the place, charming the pants of everyone…and filling her own pants to overflowing…onto my dress. This was an obvious cue to go. I think this was one of the few times where we felt the change in our lifestyle. We spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with friends and enjoying the city. The last activity was a Food Truck festival in East Hastings where I enjoyed an amazing chicken sandwich. We nearly had an altercation with some embittered union workers over a parking spot, but cooler (and wiser) heads prevailed and we got out of there without incident.
We made it back to the cabin and began the 2nd stage of our vacation…the relaxing part. And for the most part, it’s been everything we hoped it would be. It’s definitely been a transition. The way I would start my day here is so different with Sofia. Previously, I’d wake up, make my coffee and enjoy a few solitary hours on the deck reading and watching the wildlife around me while M slept in. Now, Sofia wakes me up, has some breakfast and plays by herself while I make coffee and try to get a few pages in…then we play while M sleeps in (that part hasn’t changed…). Nights are still punctuated with waking. I’m not sure if it’s the teething, the change in environment or all of the above…I end up bringing her to bed and feeding her just so I can go back to sleep. I just can’t let it all go as I used to. Even my beach time is not my own any longer…gone are the days of reading and tanning. It’s watching Sofia, making sure she’s not eating sand or rocks, that the bugs stay off her, that she’s got stuff to engage her, not getting too much sun and getting her naps. The sacrifices of being a mom I guess.
However, with all the sacrifices I get to experience many joys as well. Her first time in the lake, feeling sand on her toes, being naked at the beach, watching our cabin squirrel come for peanuts and she’s so close to crawling it’s literally any day now. The cabin for us has always been a place of recharging, a place where the balance is set to right. We can focus on the things that matter, without the myriad of distractions that pull at us every day. Our marriage is always stronger, our love for each other renewed and our outlook revived. And this year, with Sofia, we’re taking such joy in watching her grow as she enjoys the full attention of both parents. It took a lot to get here to this place, but it was totally worth the effort.
BTW: I’m writing this on the deck with a view of the lake…the day is new and full of promise.