Driven — By Laura Houston
So we took our second family vacation last week. We went to Chincoteague Island, Virginia, where my husband used to spend his summers as a kid. We rented a small house that had a room advertised as “kid proof,” and it was full of toys, bunk bets, funky lights, a special TV, and dark curtains for proper napping. Even the wall outlets had childproof plugs in them.
I will interject here that the owners and management company only thought it was set up and safe for kids. They obviously never endured a week with my twin boys who managed to mangle the blinds, remove the window cranks, dismantle the lights, and eradicate the outlet plugs within the first 24 hours of their arrival.
When the boys were born my husband and I agreed we wanted to have flexible children. We wanted toddlers who could travel—kids who could cope with change. We certainly got that. We’ve lugged them all over the country, and they have enjoyed it. I am delighted that Lyle and Wyatt can roll with the changes better than most adults.
But what I did not count on was how hard it is on me. Without baby gates, cribs, childproof cupboards and doors, and kitchen necessities such as a waffle maker, my magic bullet, and a really good dishwasher, travel is challenging. It was non-stop cooking, cleaning and chasing after toddlers for ten straight days on that island.
Even at the beach we spent out relaxation time trying to keep the boys out of the ocean. They loved the waves and they wanted to play in them, but after only one swim lesson, I hardly think they’re ready for the surf. If they weren’t attempting the water, they were chasing after seagulls, digging fishing hooks out of the sand, and treating the beach as an all-you-can-eat buffet.
I was exhausted every night by 7pm. I had this fantasy that I would be putting the boys to bed and then watching the sunset with a margarita in hand. Instead, I was sleeping on the lower bunk of a bed watching the Disney Channel and picking the caramel corn out of my hair. Most nights I fell asleep in my clothes.
There were a few relaxing moments. When the family was sleeping, and when we were driving. Driving toddlers around is the best thing ever. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this? I feel so gypped. We don’t keep our car in the city, so I can’t use it as a tool for peace and quiet, but on vacation we could strap those boys into the minivan, and they went to sleep almost immediately. I got to ride up front with my husband and talk to him about things. Like life. Like love. Like where we want to be in two years.
I listened to music. I did some bird watching. I saw some amazing sunsets. All from the front seat of our minivan.
I have come to the conclusion that every parent needs a car with them at all times. It’s a must in order to survive the first four years. I asked my husband if we could buy a house just so we could have a driveway where we could park a car.
The drive home to New York City was peaceful. The boys slept the first two hours, then I fed them a played with them for an hour, then they slept another two hours. It’s amazing what those cars can do. I want one. My husband may try to appease me with jewelry or a fancy trip, but he can forget about it. I want my minivan, and I want it tricked out for motherhood. It has to have a really good stereo. And a hookup for my iPod. And tinted windows. And room for the dogs and groceries and supplies to survive a nuclear holocaust.
Heck, forget the minivan. I’ll take one of them huge Chevy Suburban those housewives down in Texas drive. I’ll get big hair, get some of those long, acrylic painted nails and put sports team logos on them, and I’ll chew gum. I’ll wear football jerseys with sweat pants and convince myself I look sexy. I’ll make frozen food for dinner. And I’ll have a lot of it on hand because I’ll drive my boys and my really big Suburban to Costco every week, and I’ll but six-for-the-price-of-one pizzas just in case the guys come over for the game on Sunday. I’ll serve and eat only packaged food that I heat up in the microwave.
Yeah. That’s what I’ll do. And my life will be nice and quiet. Relaxing. It’ll be like I’m on vacation every day. If I only had a car. A really big car. A really, really big car.