When I got pregnant with my son, I was so excited to share moments like these with him. I couldn't wait to teach him the perfect dressing to green bean ratio, or watch him joyously discover the fun of running around with cousins while the grownups watched with knowing smiles. This was all before reality sunk in.
It's no secret that having small children is difficult. But there is a HUGE difference between "knowing" and KNOWING. Perhaps you don't have children yet, or it has been awhile since you've had little ones in the house. You may feel a certain sympathy for the mom juggling a plate of cranberry sauce and a newborn. Or the Dad chasing after the son who is going after Grandma's breakables. It might even be a bit funny to watch prized knick knacks wobbling toward the edge of the table. Later? It will be funny to me, too. Now... well, here's what you DON'T know.
Mom had a sleepless night before Thanksgiving because the baby was in a strange place and would not sleep in her portable crib. The little bundle of sweetness has graciously started teething and no longer requires that swaddle you found on some obscure website. Also, the months it took to convince said baby that Mom was not a pacifier have been shot to hell overnight. Add in some tryptophan and Mom's ready to plummet face first into her plate.
The son slept soundly in his inflatable bed on the floor of the guest room, but you would never know it, because he is running around in circles and bouncing off walls like a pinball to burn off energy. Usually he gets to play outside, but it's cold and everyone is inside. The only thing that will keep him still and occupied for a minute is watching YouTube videos on Dad's phone. Cue the judgement.
The food is delicious and heavenly, but after the second baby the weight just won't come off. Please don't tell Mom she looks great as she balances a plate of food on her wobbly stomach. Thanksgiving dinner looks like too many nights at the gym that she will never have time for. Appreciate the thought, though.
The parents have not had a spare moment alone since the oldest was born. Holidays included. All the teenagers and college kids acting all moony and the older couples who don't even make eye contact any more make them feel alone and depressed. Divide and conquer, and hope that someday they will be reunited. WE. ARE. SPARTAAA!
What you realllly won't see is the aftermath. Children thrive on schedules, so even if the travel is for "just a few days", this throws children off and sends them careening on a downward spiral... with consequences lasting for days. Days = months in parenthood. It's science.
The son will refuse to nap. So will the baby. There will be LOTS of crying and tantrums. It will bleed into school the following Monday. Then an explanation to teachers will be expected. "It was a rough weekend. That must be why my son beaned you over the head with his Lego tower." Awkward.
The bags will lay unpacked in the parent's room for days. Laundry will pile up and baby girl will have to wear big brother's old onesies. OLD. She will scream and cry at the indignity. Mom and Dad will finally get a breather after coaxing the children into bed by threatening them with "Santa won't come if...!". The parents will then promptly fall asleep to Netflix. At 8:00 p.m.
What I want to constantly scream is "We're battling sheer exhaustion! Nothing will fix that, not even sleep!" To you a day or so of travel may seem like nothing. To us it's like Mount Everest.
The truth? I love you. I love you ALL. But when it comes to dealing with small children, please try to understand. I love my sanity and my schedule more. For now.
"It's just one year."
The Hot Mama