My husband was, you guessed it, out of town again this week. But my parents were kind enough to offer the kids and I a diversion and I was desperate enough to accept – 5 days of camping at the beach. In other words, I got to cross two things off my “end of summer bucket list” – a return to the beach and camping, which I’ve been missing dreadfully.
Of course, loving and missing camping is an entirely different matter than actually doing it, particularly when a 3, 2 and nearly-1 year old are involved. Seeing the happy event written in my calendar for the past few weeks and talking it up with the boys has been exciting in and of itself, but it wasn’t until I started to pack the bags that the real weight of this task hit me.
|Gone are the "clean little baby" days.|
Packing. I always forget about it until I’m well into the thick of things. I love traveling and doing and making adventures… but I don’t like packing. And it hasn’t gotten easier with the addition of children, 3 of them, over the past 4 years. This trip was especially challenging. I had to pack for the beach … and for camping. For 80 degree afternoons … and 50 degree evenings. For sunny days at the beach … and a chance of thunderstorms half of the week. And for two little boys that are impossible to keep clean even at home … and whose potty exploits keep me in the throes of laundry. This was one occasion where I freely allowed myself to overpack. Ironically, in my quest to anticipate all my little ones' needs, I completely neglected many of my own. Which would explain why I was showering with my daughter’s hooded duck towel, and stealing my son’s pillow after he fell asleep at night. Doh!
|Teething and wanting Mama ... all the time.|
So we settled for an early lunch at an establishment with a potty. And I made everyone go twice. Once when we got there and once before we left. And in the meantime I fielded questions from two business men sitting next to me that went something like this:
“Those aren’t all yours right?”
“Yes, they are.”
“No way … I had my first at 19, you must’ve started way before that.”
“Um, nope. “
“I’m shocked … how old are you?”
“Shocked. And they’re so good.”
(Now I’m the one shocked.)
And on and on it went. Me trying to eat and feed my kids, and two men sitting next to me trying to figure out my life story. We finally wrapped things up, took our second potty break and piled back into the minivan (oh, I'm gonna love saying that from now on). We got about 20 minutes down the road when Jude started yelling "poop, Mommy, pooooop!!! I gotta go poops!!" What?! Jude is still becoming familiar with his bodily functions. As in, when you go pee pees, you should check with your body to see if you might have to go poops too, since you're already in there and all. But no, instead he waits until the last second, giving me no advance notice whatsoever. I knew I didn't have much time and I had just gone by the last exit for civilization. We were now in new territory and I had no idea what type of facilities were ahead.
Right about this time he's squealing and squirming in the front seat. And then, like an oasis in the desert, a beautiful, sparkly gas station rises on the horizon. Weird. I don't remember that being there on the way to the beach. Well after we pulled in I figured out why. Because it's brand new. So new, it's not even open yet. Apparently we were 4 days early. Unfortunately, my son can't wait that long. But one look at me and my squirming brood and the lady stocking shelves was happy to let us use their lovely, new bathrooms. Potty breaks and diaper changes all around, a huge, gushing thank you to the employees and we're off again. This should only be a 2.5 hour drive (max!) and we're now in the middle of naptime. Surely we can make it without any additional stops.
Yeah, right. About 30 minutes later Julia is fussing in her seat. I can see her in the mirror. She's tired, wants to go to sleep, but wants some milk to get her there. I keep pushing forward, hoping she'll eventually drift off. But no dice. So we find ourselves in a tiny town in the Middle of Nowhere, Delaware. I spot a small, white country church and figure it's the safest place to pull off and nurse a baby. No bathrooms, but we shouldn't need those anyway. I feed my little girl while the boys watch a movie and we're off. Again.
|When the toys and movies get old, Jack looks elsewhere for entertainment...|
And again. About 20 minutes down the road, Jude has to go pee pee again. Now we're really in the middle of nowhere. Not a town in sight. Not even a road sign. Jude can't hold it anymore so I veer off the road and do the inevitable, pull his pants down right there by the side of the highway. Of course, more traffic passes in those 20 seconds than I'd seen the entire time we spent on that stretch. And then Jack doesn't want to miss out on the excitement and wants to pee in the grass too...
At this point, we're probably less than 30 minutes from our destination. Please kids, can you hold it together for 30 more minutes? If you're not going to take a nap for me, then at least give me one final stretch of peace and quiet. We almost make it. At about the 25 minute mark Jack starts doing the potty dance (carseat version). We're at the campground. We just need to find Marmie and Poppa. I'm seconds away from having to teleconference into a meeting for work. And my three kids are seconds away from having a meltdown. It almost felt like the night Julia was born ... almost. We pull into the parking lot just as the phone rings for my meeting. But it doesn't matter. Marmie already has Jack in the porta-potty. Julia is happy again snuggled on Poppa's arm. And Jude is practically climbing into the back of "Poppa's red tuck! Poppa's red truuuuuuck!"
We made it. Vacation can officially commence.