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When leaving on vacation feels like going to the hospital

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I just returned from vacation. As I was packing my little purple suitcase and my toothbrush to leave home at the beginning of my trip, I felt as though I had done all this before. Recently. But that was impossible, as I hadn’t been on vacation since July 2010, before my son was born. But then I remembered. I HAD done all this recently. Three times. For the occasions my son had to stay in the hospital. And maybe that was my first sign that this vacation just wouldn’t be all I hoped it would be.

A few posts ago, I talked about how well I was doing battling all my fears. When it comes to vacation, that all goes out the window. I worried that my car with 190,000 miles under its belt would not make it (that is before I realized we were going through the Appalachian Mountains with it). I worried that the dog boarding lady would come up with a reason not to take my dogs. I worried that my dogs would freak out at the boarding place and get bloat like Marley and die (I hate that damn book). I worried someone would break into my empty house. I worried my house would catch on fire (or get hit by a tornado, tsunami, etc.). I worried my son would cry the whole time in the car from Michigan to North Carolina (he usually only cries in the car when his future BFF is in the backseat with him). I worried he would cry when I took him in and out of the car more than three times in a day (this is a real thing that usually happens—he is a homebody, like his grandma). I worried the Fiesta factory would be closed when we got there. I worried that my new dress shoes I have never worn before would make my feet hurt. I was worried the rash under my eye would break out if I didn’t take my hydrocortisone cream.

I am happy to say, none of those things happened. My 16 month old son was an excellent multi-state traveler. Better than I ever could have imagined. Except the shoes did kill my pinky toes and I did get my eye rash. Can’t win them all.

I discovered traveling with a toddler makes a relaxing vacation rather stressful. He relies on us (his parents) for everything! He gets easily distracted and wouldn’t have eaten all day if I hadn’t made him. We have to remember to change his diaper at frequent intervals. Which, I am very happy to say, only once did his diaper overflow peepee, and that was on the very last day on the way home. Hey, no one is perfect. Although I wish I was.

The whole trip it felt like my husband and I disagreed about where to go. The purpose of the trip was his Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary. Which is fine. We had visited them previously, so they were not exactly strangers. My in-laws went down too. And I love them (and I am not just saying that because they read my blog:). But we spent a lot of time with his family, and I felt like I should have had time to visit a couple places I wanted to. We did have an extra time cushion while we were there.

I did get to stop at the Fiesta Factory on the way down. Which is amazing. But I was so overwhelmed and felt so rushed that we were only there like an hour. And we hadn’t had any lunch at that point. (Did I mention my husband starved me? I’m joking. Sort of.) I really wanted to go to Tamarack, because twice before I didn’t get to. But we didn’t go. And I feel we could have spared like two hours for that. After two days of family events, on the way home we went to Saltville, Virginia, for some Civil War history. We were there for four hours, not counting the hour we went to find lunch. Then we went home through Pikeville, Kentucky, where some of my ancestors were born. Which is sort of my pick and we spent the night there. But there was no way there would have been time for me to do any genealogical research. What I really wanted was a picture of my son and I in front of the sign of the city where his great-great-great-great grandfather was born. But I didn’t get that. On the way home I saw a sign for a store that sells fireworks, moccasins, souvenirs, and (wait for it) FUDGE! How great would that be! In the middle of nowhere Ohio! I thought, if we could just stop for a few minutes, that would make up for a few of my other disappointments. After all, I love cheesy souvenirs and the only ones I really got were from the Museum of Middle Appalachians in Saltville. But no luck.

Wall of Fiestaware

Now I know I am being petty. And my frustration comes from being a bit of a control freak. And I have hogged previous vacations visiting numerous lighthouses that my husband could probably care less about. But I can’t help it. I am still a little bitter.


I really have no reason to be unhappy with the trip. My kid was the youngest and cutest one at all the family functions. I got numerous requests to make more cute children like him. I got told I looked thinner. I got compliments on my new fancy dress. I got a new bathing suit, which my husband seemed very fond of. I got a box full of Fiestaware. My son behaved extraordinarily well. Every mother’s dream.

Maybe I missed how it was to travel without a toddler. Or maybe I was bummed because I didn’t get to overplan the trip as much as I normally would have. Or maybe the image of packing for the hospital kept haunting me somewhere in the back of my mind.

My son goes to the specialist again on Wednesday for a checkup. I hope-hope-hope, pray to God (except I don’t—except when I am exhausted and need a hotel room in the middle of nowhere Kentucky) that we get good news. It would be cause for celebration! How best to celebrate? Hmmm…Maybe a trip?

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