If we’re friends on Facebook or you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably seen a lot of pictures lately that make it look like the kid and I are having a really good time.
Pictures like this …
And this ….
And this …
And while a lot of our life lately has been fun and games (because summer!), it hasn’t all been awesomeness.
I have a tendency to share the good parts of life, the fun parts of life. No one, myself included, wants to hear about the tougher times. We like to post pretty pictures of ourselves and families and friends out doing rad stuff. I mostly leave out a lot of the the hard parts. It’s not because I want to lie to you or mislead you. It’s because I want to remember the good stuff (and most of it is good stuff!).
But it’s not all good stuff.
My kid has always been a great traveler. We’ve had our share of challenging nights in the tent but he is generally a pretty easy-going guy. Normal toddler problems aside, he is a happy, laid-back kid who is almost always up for anything. This has made him a great little adventure buddy. With my work being easy to take on the road and him not having much in the way of his own activities yet, we travel a lot. We visit family, go to the mountains, camp, and glamp. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Except when it’s not.
My parents are up in the mountains for the summer and the kidlet and I have been up there a bunch. Being around family and having a beautiful home base for all sorts of high altitude adventures is a pretty glorious thing. We went up at the beginning of last week, thinking we would stay for a week or so. Long story short, a week and a half later we were still there. And with my husband racing the Breck Epic all next week, we figured we’d just stick around through next weekend.
If you’re doing the math, that’s three weeks in the mountains. Three weeks away from home. Three weeks that should have been so much fun.
The first two nights I couldn’t sleep, which kind of sucked. What sucked even more is that for the next week, the kid didn’t sleep either.
To say that his sleep schedule went to hell would be an understatement. While some nights were worse than others, for the last week or so he has pretty much woken up every couple hours during the night and screamed his little head off for the next thirty minutes. Then he’d fall asleep and an hour or two later, the whole thing would begin again. And a kid that doesn’t sleep for several nights in a row? He’s tired and grumpy during the day. And so are his mom and dad.
And none of it makes for a very pretty picture.
Last night was the worst night we’d had while we were up there and when my mom gently suggested that maybe we should go home for a few days to see if we can get him back on his schedule, I wholeheartedly agreed. An hour later I had packed up the car, loaded up the kid and dogs, and headed down the hill. I felt a little bit defeated but also very relieved to be headed home.
I know that parenting is hard work and that good nights of sleep can be few and far between. I know that we have been very lucky to have a kid that generally sleeps and travels well. I know that these things are phases and that everything is constantly changing. I’m not telling you this story to complain. I’m telling you to point out that sometimes the pretty pictures don’t tell the whole story. I’m telling you that sometimes things are way harder than they actually look. And I’m telling you that sometimes it’s ok to give in, cry uncle, and go home.
The truth is that traveling with, adventuring with, and, hell, living with kids can sometimes be challenging. It may look like we hike and paddle and ride around and the kid is always thrilled to be tagging along. And most of the time, that is how it goes. But it’s not always like that. For every few times that we go and rip around Valmont, there is a time that a meltdown a half mile from the parking lot means carrying a screaming kid (and his bike) back to the car. For every couple blissful cruises around the reservoir on the paddleboard there is a trip that went to hell or one where we never even made it out the door. There are the amazing pictures from our last trip to Fruita, which couldn’t have gone any better … except for the time that the kid got bit by a fire ant at the bottom of the 18 Road campground and I had to carry him all the way back to our campsite near the top. Those of you who have been to Fruita know that that’s a long damn way to carry a kid that is screaming at the top of his lungs.
These things aren’t failures, although it’s easy to feel like they are. They are the reality of traveling and adventuring with kids. A lot of it is sunshine and wildflowers and all the good feelings. But a lot of it is really hard. And sometimes, like this week when I headed for home way earlier than expected, you throw in the towel.
That’s not failure either, as long as you get back at it.
I realize that I’m probably speaking rather dramatically about a week without sleep and that, in the grand scheme of things, this is small potatoes. In my own defense, I’m still totally sleep-deprived and feeling the frustration at the end of a long week. This week’s challenges, though, were a good reminder to never take the good days, the easy days, for granted.
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