About a week ago, I realized that Mr. Howard had the whole weekend off and thought it might be fun to take the kids on a little adventure. Since we’re staying with my parents, we thought a little adventure might give them a much needed break as well.
After considering a couple options, we decided on Monterey. Mr. Howard and I have been several times and we have even taken Connor there once. But, we hadn’t yet braved it with the whole gang. We looked up hotels and found a good deal at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. We figured we’d leave early Saturday morning and spend Saturday and Sunday morning there (including a trip to the Aquarium on Saturday).
We decided to run over to target to pick one up, but after purchasing something and bringing it out to the car, we realized it wouldn’t work. Back into the store Mr. Howard trekked. Eventually he came back with a DVD player we could hang over our car headrests (and a million promises that it would ONLY be used for long car trips!)…in case you are keeping track, you can go ahead and add THAT to the list of things we said we’d never do too.
After finally getting all the kids settled with snacks and movies, we started back on our journey. Not fifteen minutes later, Connor started saying he needed to go potty. So, off we went to a gas station (figured we might as well fill up too).
Back on the road we went. I know I am not the first person to travel with three kids three and under and so I will spare you the details of how joyous the journey is. Use your imagination. Throw in some, “I have to go to the bathroom’s” and a couple “she’s touching me!” and you get the idea. We were so excited when we pulled up to the hotel.
We decided to get settled and take naps at the hotel before we went to the aquarium. We thought it might also help us to avoid the morning crowds. We got all the pack 'n plays ready and tucked everyone in bed. Minutes turned into a half an hour…which turned into an hour. No one slept. No one used their kind voices. No one was happy. Mr. Howard and I decided to throw in the towel, call naps a loss, and head over to the aquarium where SURELY everyone would start over fresh.
I’ll be honest. In retrospect, it should have occurred to us a little more acutely that taking three kiddos to the aquarium on a busy Saturday after they’ve been cooped up in a car and have had no naps (that is the first time EVER that the babies have not had naps with us) might not be the best option. But at this point, we were there and we had no choice.
I adore my children. I love them from sun-up to sun-down and every second in between. They are my light, my joy, and one of my greatest honors. So, I will just say that I may or may not have stood in a dark corner in the shark exhibit and cried. If I had cried, it may or may not have been about how crowded it was and how overwhelmed I was that we couldn’t let Aiden and Izzy out of the stroller without fear of losing one or more children. It may or may not have been about how Aiden had screamed so loudly in the jellyfish exhibit that everyone turned to look. I may have even cried about how Aiden pulled my hair when I picked him up in the jellyfish exhibit. And then, I may have also cried about how guilty I felt. Okay, I did. I had one of those Mama moments we all pray happens in the comfort of our living room. I just wanted my kids to have such a wonderful time and I was so bummed that they were so bummed.
I stood in the shark exhibit, shielded from judgment (in the dark), with tears streaming down my face and shut my eyes. I prayed that I be appreciative. Prayed that my kids enjoyed themselves. And prayed about how blessed I was. I reasoned, How many moms who read my blog, have prayed for even one baby – let alone three. How many moms would give up everything to switch places with me? How many times did I pray that I would get to take my kids on these adventures? How long have I sworn that if God had just let me keep Cole, I could have handled it. And yet, there I was. Coming undone. So overwhelmed.
You see, that’s the side of parenting you don’t understand until you’ve been there. You see a mom at the aquarium with three kids and she’s being snippity and you think you’ve got her figured out. You think you know how easy she has it. You think to yourself that she should just be grateful. You have no idea the battle she’s fighting within herself.
Parenting is an adventure. It is a wild ride. And mostly, for me, it is magic fairy dust and sprinkles. It is 10 parts good and a couple bad days or moments. Two years ago, I would have told you that we shouldn’t focus on the bad moments. We should celebrate the good and the wonderful. But you know what? I don’t believe that anymore. To forget about the bad, means I’d have to stop talking about Cole and he is as much my joy as he is my sorrow. To not mention the tears streaming down my face in the aquarium means leaving out a huge part of parenting. An important part. Because, it makes the sweeter so much sweeter. How can you experience pure joy when you have nothing to compare it to? How can you appreciate the magical moments if you don’t know how happy they are?
Parenting, for me, means learning to be humble. And, let me tell you, I practice humility every. Single. Day.