Well, we are home.
This was the first vacation we took together as a family since our son, now just shy of a year old, was born, and perhaps it was a bit ambitions to plan to spend one week in Iceland.
But you know what? We will never know. Because while we did book a trip to Iceland, we never got there. We ended up in Mexico.
The short story is that we missed our flight, which I have trouble even typing because it sounds like something that irresponsible and disorganized people do and I tend to be neurotic about this stuff (thanks, Dad).
Yes, we missed our flight. But it was because they overbooked the flight and enacted a never-before-heard-of rule that you cannot check in less than one hour before your flight or else you’re bumped. And even though we got to the airport two hours before the flight, a series of unfortunate events, some within our control and some outside of our control, led to the computer timing out mid-check-in, telling us we were too late.
By literally 30 seconds. The guy was halfway through checking us in when it all shut down. 30 fucking seconds.
So we didn’t go to Iceland. We went home, arriving after 1am with an exhausted baby (who was truly a champ through all of this), a disappointed 9-year-old, and that white-hot rage I mentioned.
The next day, my husband and I spent seven hours – SEVEN HOURS NO JOKE – on the phone and internet, getting full credit for our tickets from the airline, half refund on our lodging, and shopping for a new trip. By that point, our priorities had shifted from cultural experience and novel landscape to all-inclusive open bar (and more to do for my stepson), so we ended up in Cancun.
It worked out about as well as it could have, which is not to say that it was a bad trip. It was beautiful and the hotel was actually a lot nicer than we had expected and I had a drink in a pineapple almost every day. I’m not complaining. We all had fun.
But it’s hard traveling with kids, especially ones that are this different in age with such different needs and interests. What we ended up doing every day was splitting up. My husband spent most of the time with his son and I spent most of the time with the baby. This meant that I spent a lot of time reading a book in an empty bathtub in the bathroom of a dark hotel room while he took naps. I probably spent four hours a day in that empty bathtub.
It also meant that I didn’t get a lot of time to spend with my husband, which was disappointing. And a lot of the time we did spend all together was spent in one of two ways: managing a baby who can’t walk yet but is nonetheless extremely mobile (and was cumulatively underslept); or dominated by my stepson. I didn’t fight the latter because for some reason in my head this trip had shifted from a trip that was for us all to a trip that was for him. I think I just gave up after Iceland fell through and shifted to whatever would be easiest. Though I wouldn’t turn one down, resort trips are not really my thing. Great for kids, though.
My stepson regresses when we travel and while it wasn’t as bad as it has been in the past (I think he’s settling down with all of this stuff and also getting older, maturing, etc.), there were still moments. It seemed to increase as the trip went on, transitioning from pure uncontainable excitement to anxiety as we got closer to leaving for home, which seemed to have a lot to do with the impending parent switch and loss of Dad-time. Totally normal stuff. I remember doing the same thing.
I ignored it for the most part, but it did become annoying at times. I would start to say something to my husband and, mid-sentence, stepson would yell WHO DO YOU THINK’S GOING TO WIN PORTUGAL OR THE US. Or I’d be standing near my husband and stepson would squirm in between us and hang on him, blocking me out. Again- totally textbook stuff. They were possessive moves, but mild for the most part and only at times of stress. He was much less demanding of my husband’s time this year than in past years, and more independent in his activities, which made things easier.
After the trip, I felt such an overwhelming relief to be back home. I think this is the first time I really understood what people meant when they said they needed a vacation to unwind after their vacation. It was hard.
Art credit: I apologize- I cannot figure out who did this. If you know, please let me know.