We recently returned from an exciting and adventurous ten day vacation where we ate and drank our way through the Washington coast. The trip was a lovely balance of visiting with friends, hiking in national parks, and experiencing the maritime culture. Many times throughout the trip, I was constantly reminded how this is most likely our last kid free vacation before we meet our son.
My first reminder was when we arrived at the airport. I witnessed a mom who had to WWE wrestle her screaming daughter to free her panda backpack in order to get through the security line. Another time is when I breathlessly hiked up a hill in the Olympic National Park thinking, “There’s no way a toddler could possibly do this. As an adult, I can barely manage.” I look up and of course there’s a mom who walks past me with her top heavy backpack filled with camping gear with her toddler strapped in the Ergobaby carrier and I think to myself, “Yes, it is possible. But how is that any fun?” Or the time at dinner when I realized while devouring my delicious hamachi crudo and casually sipping my Oregon chardonnay that I need to enjoy this because these days are dangerously numbered.
I am certain that it is completely unrealistic and maybe even a bit naive to consider vacation travel with a toddler. How does it feel to be a parent on a three hour flight with a screaming active two year old? I don’t envy you. There’s the constant negotiation of snacks, the thrown toys, and any novel distraction you can imagine just to get you through the flight. Then when you finally arrive, how much beach time can you actually enjoy around nap time, sand throwing, and cooking dinner? How is this possibly a vacation?
I imagine that once I have a family, the vacationing will look dramatically different from our latest trip. There will be no more sleeping in at the dreamy Airbnb, the late night maritime debauchery with college friends will be limited, and a simple event like packing to go to the beach may turn into an epic production. However, I’m ready to trade all this in because I know that once I walk through the arrival gate with my son in tow, there’s a delightful and bittersweet, a magical and familiar, a lifetime of adventures that awaits us.