Kids change things. We can’t do the same things as parents we once did as couples. That means less vacations, and less fancy vacations. Less dinners, and less fancy dinners.
But, sometimes, you absolutely, positively need to get away, and you make an exception to your rule. You pack up all the baby gear, you take twice as long to drive somewhere because you have to stop every 30 minutes to feed, change, and repeat with your baby, and you get out of town with your baby on vacation.
You do it because, well, you just need to do it.
Dad On The Run’s sister did just that last week. Their young family went away to a ski resort in Colorado and, well, things didn’t quite go as planned at night, and after the weekend they woke up to a note under their door.
“Thanks for bringing a screaming baby to a ski resort and wake [sic] up everyone near your room, several times a night,” the letter read. “Babies don’t ski so there’s no reason to bring them to a ski resort, they should stay at home with family or nanni [sic]. I never brought my babies to a place like this, I was considerate of others, not selfish.”
There was a time when I would have been fully on board with this complainer. I often think many parents behave selfishly by bringing their kids to places they don’t belong. But I’m mellowing on that attitude, especially when you reach back into your bag of tricks, find some empathy, and try to put yourself in the place of the parents with the screaming baby.
Dad On The Run served up an open letter to the complainers explaining his brother-in-law is a surgeon, works a lot, and took the opportunity to bring his family to the Colorado conference so he wouldn’t miss even more time away from his family. His niece usually sleeps through the night, so they figured the time away would be good for everyone.
“My niece usually sleeps pretty well, and is not known for screaming in the middle of the night. Newsflash: a night in the room with a screaming toddler is even harder than being next door, and not something parents sign up for voluntarily.
As for my sister … as a stay-home mother, I’m sure she jumped at the chance to get out of the house. What stay-home parent wouldn’t? Sure, it is true, she’s still learning the ropes. Can you remember what that was like? Do you remember thinking you knew your child’s routines, only to learn at an inopportune time that you don’t really know much of anything? … You may remember the hopeful feeling that there will not be a person like you around. Someone willing to belittle you rather than offer support, someone willing to call you a bad parent and a selfish person because you have somehow conspired to ruin their day, their meal or their trip.“
Ugh, that’s the worst. On planes, when I hear that screaming kid, I’m not firing dirty looks over my shoulder, I’m sighing. I’ve been there — on a red eye — and it’s the absolute worst feeling in the world. You’re ragged from trying to console your kid, and it’s just a slippery slope downhill when you feel the lasers from other passengers’ eyes drilling into you.
Parenting is hard enough when you’re a veteran, but as a rookie with everyone screaming solutions and ideas and theories at you it can be nearly impossible.
I fully see both sides of this. I get that parents need an escape, and sometimes you have to bring the kid and it doesn’t go as planned. I also get that people who buck up big time for a vacation to a swish ski resort can be upset when they get woken up in the middle of the night. If the neighbours were having loud sex, parties, or something equally disturbing, a similar note would still be written.
The difference this time? We can’t control our kids. We can’t. As much as people without kids think it is totally possible to program these munchkins to do what we want, when we want it, they are, for lack of a better analogy, wild animals. They are the ones in control and we, as parents, can only mitigate.
So Eric’s sister is doing her best (and was up all night too), and it just didn’t work out.
Was sending the letter rude? How do you handle loud neighbours when you’re on vacation?
Image via Dad On The Run