So you decide to go camping this weekend with the kids. It’ll be fun, you think. It’ll be relaxing, you dare to dream.
Nevermind that you and the toddler have been suffering debilitating allergies. You just started your second steroid of the month, which hasn’t fully kicked in yet and, so your head has been pounding for eight days straight so hard that you feel the pain in your teeth every time you take a step. Nevermind that the toddler sneezed approximately five hundred times that day, spraying fountains of snot with every achoo. That, combined with her leaky red-rimmed eyes, convinced you to start her on some children’s Claritin, which honest-to-goodness stopped the sneezing by about ninety percent within the hour. If she’s fine, you’re fine, so you take yourself to urgent care and get yourself Flonase and Prednisone to add to your Singular and Claritin and Sudafed cocktail you already are on. When you text your husband a picture of you and your now-less-sneezy kiddo from the urgent care office, and he asks, “Are we still going camping’, you confidently state, “Of course we are”. Because you can be miserable at home or you can be miserable camping, so why waste the opportunity for the trip.
The night before you leave, the toddler gives you a hard time about going to sleep. She grabs her baby doll and dragging it up the stairs is whining, “I want to give my baby a bath!! I waa-annn-tttt-oo-oogi-iiiv-eeee-myba-aa-bbb-yyyy-ya-ba-th!” She must not think you’re really getting her point so she tries a louder tactic, a high-pitched shriek, “I!want!to!give!my!baby!a!bath!” Maybe it was her being so worked up about the hygiene of her baby doll (was she suddenly not okay with the mashed ground Cheerios on baby’s clothes or the orange marker scribbled all over her face?), or maybe she choked on a large amount of drainage running down the back of her throat that the Claritin couldn’t quite get rid of. Whatever it was, it caused her to vomit all over the bathroom stool and floor.
As a mother, the first thought you have is, damn, she ate two whole carrots and now they’re on the bathroom floor, and you hope some vitamin K was retained. You start mopping up the floor and while you’re doing that she seizes the opportunity to take her baby doll to the bathtub and start washing her in the bucket full of water left over from her bath earlier that day. You find the situation ironic, and slightly annoying, that she is getting what she was originally whining about when you said it was time for bed, but at this point, screw it. Her puke-splattered baby actually now does need a bath so she might as well be the one to clean it.
You text your husband a picture of the puke, so he can appreciate your current parental situation.
He asks again, “Are we still going?”
“Yes, damn it”. We will have a fun family vacation. You’re starting to sound slightly Clark Griswold.
The next day you leave and it takes three times longer than it should to get to the campsite, but that’s okay, you left early. On the way there your toddler tells you her butt hurts, and you realize all of the diapers are trapped in the pop-up, so you stop at the grocery store and buy more diapers and change her in the car, thinking she must have pooped, but she’s just wet. You change her anyway and head to lunch. Somehow in the fifteen-minute span between the diaper change and lunch she pees more than she’s ever peed in her entire life, enough to drench the diaper and cause a urine overflow all over her pants. But, like the diapers, clean pants are in the pop-up so you just change the diaper and know that even though she has Pee Pants on, the new diaper will at least prevent a urinary tract infection.
Despite leaving three hours ahead for the “hour drive” to the campground, after lunch there are only seven minutes until you can check in, and holy mackerel, the GPS says you are seven minutes from the campground! This must be a sure sign of an upswing in your luck, you are convinced.
You unpack and head to the beach and pay the nine bucks to park for your hour-long stay, but damn your kid has fun, and the beach is all she has been talking about doing for a week. She did everything she wanted, she dug holes and made castles and put her toes in the water, and scooped and stacked and to top it all off, the infant didn’t even choke on any sand. You head back to the campground and ate dinner at the picnic table and the toddler, in camping-loving glory exclaims, “I love picnics! And she makes a rainbow out of her blueberries and then eats them all. The mama in you is thrilled because, antioxidants consumed!
After dinner you make a fire and put together s’mores, which you’re sure she’ll love, though it turns out she doesn’t even want to try it. You try to convince her to just try one bite, but after a minute you realize, Why am I trying to force her to eat a sugar-laden sugar sandwich? So you forget trying to force-feed the s’mores. You don’t even like them much anyway, as you prefer your sugar in a fermented form.
It’s time for bed and you read the toddler Goldilocks and the Three Bears four times, because that’s what she wants, and all seems well until about five minutes into sleep time and the toddler pukes. She pukes purple from her blueberry rainbow picnic. There is puke in her hair and on her pillow and all over her special blankie. You clean up what you can and hand her a spare blanket that you brought and another ten minutes pass before she pukes AGAIN. You strip her down and you add a few more items to the soaked-with-regurgitated-blueberry pile and AHA! You have a THIRD blankie.
You smugly think to yourself, This is why we “overpack”, Husband, and mentally note that you were so one-hundred-percent on the correct side of the argument you two had earlier about how you “always pack too much”. Clearly you needed to pack even more, since you gave her your pillow to stack on top of hers so she wouldn’t choke on her own phlegm and puke again, and you don’t have another blanket to wrap around yourself, so you have no choice but to suck it up and let the now-cold blueberry-puke-patch touch your thigh. You read Goldilocks two more times once you’re resettled.
And even though you are covered in puke and the infant has been screaming this whole time, you laugh.
Because once you’ve accepted the fact that you’re sleeping in regurgitated blueberry and pukey hair, you just let go. You have no choice. You accept it and say, fuck it, and you can’t believe that for a split-second earlier that day you worried about a few tablespoons of sand in the bed. Now, that sand is just a beautifully sprinkled reminder of that glorious time at the beach. You feel liberated. Once you’ve freed yourself from the expectation that all (or most. or some) will be pleasant, all is suddenly wholly good. You squeeze in a little closer to your pint-sized puke-head and share her double pillow, and when you realize that the pillow is also wet with puke, so don’t even flinch as you tuck the end of your blanket under your head and nod off for a few minutes until morning.
The next day you get a bit of retribution. You start the day with a deliciously steamy cup of french-pressed coffee, your spouse wore the infant in the baby carrier while you walked through town and got ice cream, you visited the salt-water pool at the campsite twice, and you read Goldilocks five times before nap, and best of all, there is no puking. And is it just you, or your jeans feeling a little loose, like maybe, just maybe, you magically didn’t gain an ounce from all of those s’mores you washed down with that six-pack of seasonal IPA?
In your delirium you book the next camping outing.
On the way home you stop for a night at your parent’s cottage and you wake up to find that the toddler shit her pants in bed and the infant peed through her onesie and sleep sack. Since you didn’t “overpack”, your entire family has officially ran out of clean clothes, because they have all been puked on, or shit on, or peed on, and as you should have guessed, you find out your parent’s washing machine is on the fritz. Your husband hand-washes the shit-covered dress and hangs it outside to dry. You clean up the kids and let them run around in nothing but diapers and go take a shower, and put your pee-soaked shirt back on as you pour yourself a cup of coffee.
It’s a good thing you drank that coffee because throughout the day you change approximately thirty-five shit-filled diapers between the two kids, many of which are liquid runs. At once point when you try to get the toddler to sit on the potty, the contents of the diaper leak out into a brown puddle on the bathroom floor. Since you didn’t “overpack” you ran out of diapers and wipes and have to get more.
You somehow manage to make it out for a pontoon ride and for a lovely half an hour, both kids nap and you enjoy the breeze and you think contentedly, Ahhh, life at the lake. There is still hope left. You get back to the cottage and the toddler eats some cheese and crackers and immediately proceeds to puke all over the carpet. Enough puke for you to suggest taking the carpet out of the house and hosing it off. Enough puke for your dad to say, “Maybe it’s time for us to get rid of this carpet”.
You read the toddler Goldilocks another five times in a row while your spouse packs up the car, and you head home a day early.
You gave it a valiant effort.