This weekend my family and I took a 4-hour road trip to visit my friend, Anna’s, newborn baby. And I suppose her. And her husband. And their almost 3-year old. But really we know what the main focus of this trip was: the teeny tiny little snuggly wuggly baby.
I prepped in a typical Type A fashion for the road trip knowing that the duration could be problematic given that the kids rarely do well with car journeys over five minutes. Snacks were packed tightly in freezer bags labeled “trip to VA” and “trip HOME”. New toys were acquired from Amazon when I smugly searched “best travel toys” and saw the almost 5 star ratings on these items:
Things seemed promising. Our 18-month old passed out as we were pulling out of the driveway. But then the 3-year old refused to nap in the car. I made the rookie mistake of bribing him with fruit snacks if he did sleep. This backfired terrifically as it only gave him something specific to yell (I WANT FRUIT SNACKS!) instead of just whining angsty threenager gibberish. Needless to say, we gave him the fruit snacks. 20 minutes later the 18-month old opened her eyes gently and quietly whispered a sweet “hello”. Just kidding. She screamed when she realized she was still in the car and more importantly, restrained with a 5-point safety harness from which she could not escape. I looked at Waze. Only 3.5 more hours to go! I looked at my husband and said “we can’t give them the iPads for this long. No way.”
45 minutes later and grueling DC metro area traffic later we both gave each other the “f it” look and I unlocked the iPads and enjoyed a blessed 5 minutes of silence before the baby started yelling “‘ELP! ‘ELP! EL-MO? EL-MO?” In her desperation to find Elmo and only Elmo – the rest of the Sesame Street cast be damned – she hit a combination of buttons that resulted in the screen going dark. The things I thought we had downloaded didn’t load properly so we were screwed. Each toy I tried passing her was thrown with displeased fury . With 30 minutes until we reached my friend’s house and lollipop wrappers littered about the car, my husband gave me the nod “Give her your phone. I don’t care if we go over our data this month.” Hotter words have never been spoken.
Miraculously we made it. The kids exploded out of the car and began to run around the house exploring and I made a beeline for my friend. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I honed in on her precious 3-week old and immediately nestled her into me while the great friend that I have poured me a much-needed glass of rosé. The grueling road trip was forgotten. I was inhaling the intoxicating scent of newborn baby head and swishing my favorite warm-weather beverage while the husbands ran after the toddlers that had energy to burn.
The weekend was perfectly low-key and chaotic all at the same time. Anna and I joke all the time about sharing a brain because it’s a little creepy how similarly we think. The same could be said for our parenting styles. Being a mom is so much better when you are doing it alongside another mom that holds the same general parenting view and has zero issue with donuts and Flavor Ice comprising 60% of their weekend diet. Was this weekend exhausting? Of course. But there was so much shared parenting going on and tag-teaming of things that it lightened the load considerably. 6am wake-ups were a lot less lonely when there was someone next to you uttering the words “I’ll start the coffee”.
Our boys hit it off which was adorable to watch. A shared interest in trains, trucks, Paw Patrol, and their dads forcing them to like baseball was the foundation of their friendship. We even boarded them in the same room overnight which resulted in some interesting over/under bets as to what time they would both actually fall asleep. Unsurprisingly, it was usually the over.
Olivia was crazy good with the baby. Let me rephrase that. Given Olivia’s penchant for hair pulling and bitch slapping, I thought for sure we were going to have to put the baby in one of those gerbil balls, but she really surprised us with an endearing Lenny from Of Mice and Men-like gentleness. Ok, there was the one time she chucked her water bottle at the baby – thank God Anna is a second-time mom and knew that this sort of thing would only help her own daughter build character. And you had to CONSTANTLY keep an eye on Olivia, especially when the baby was in the swing because she loved to push that thing to the point where I was pretty sure centripetal force was the only thing keeping the baby locked in.
There were plenty of “time for a third” jokes going around. To which I only had to gesture to the two banshees posing as my children to explain why that won’t be happening. However, there was a moment when I looked at my husband and dramatically said “WE WILL NEVER HAVE A BABY THIS LITTLE EVER AGAIN!”. He looked at me like this was somehow a bad thing and I realized it was probably the wine talking more than anything. This little nugget was beyond precious and so well-behaved that I totally fell in love but I didn’t feel the least bit like we were missing out by not even considering a third. Our family is complete and honestly I don’t know if I, or a third baby could actually survive two high-energy older siblings that have become deaf to the word “no”.
Lastly, the weekend also reminded me of all these things I had forgotten about newborns. Like how much they sleep. And how deeply they sleep. Although I’m pretty convinced that my own children never slept that much or as peacefully. Or how addictive newborn baby smell is. I may have sniffed my friend’s baby to the point where it got a little awkward. And just how fragile and helpless they really are. It’s both endearing and terrifying. I like my kids to be developmentally sturdy enough for me to carry them under one arm out of a store while they throw an epic tantrum.