This weekend the fam hit the road to Philadelphia for a quick getaway in honor of G’s birthday. The anticipation of getting away from it all, hanging in the hotel, walking around the city and enjoying new food, new sites and actual shopping had us buzzed with excitement as we pulled onto the highway in the early Friday evening. O was snuggled in his seat, enjoying Curious George on the iPad while dressed in his “vacation adventure Jams” (aka, his pajamas). We had the entire weekend ahead of us…whoooo!
Fast forward 12 hours and we realized, oh yes, we are traveling with Mr. Independent, Mr. I Can Do It, Mr. I’m Not Gonna Listen and Mr. I Think I’ll Take My Diaper Off and Run Around The Room You Can’t Catch Me HA HA HA HA.
The weekend can best be described as an Exhaustion muffin with sprinkles of Fun. You savor those sweet moments of swimming together in the hotel pool, dancing at the flea market and happily playing bean bag toss by the harbor but all too soon the mood flips, the fun sprinkles are gone and it’s nothing but a mouthful of tired and drained. It’s not that it was BAD, it’s just relentless. Lots of walking to the nearest playground, restraining O from running through thick city crowds, repeatedly explaining that this is a No Whining family and he needs to cut it out (in the nicest way possible). Lots of asking, cajoling and finally demanding he not soak the bathroom/throw his blankets on the not-so-clean hotel floor/scream in the communal dining area/destroy any and all around him. Lots of the sound of our own voice and not a whole lot of relaxing, but then again, what did we really expect?
By late Sunday morning, we were back in the car and headed home. A faulty GPS, Philly traffic and no nap for an overtired boy had us barely hanging on as we continued in to the three-hour trip. We were 45 minutes from home when we realized we all needed a pit stop. We got off at a nearby town and headed to this park I had heard of and it was just what we needed. Lots of play space, open fields and a river to run by, we got to stretch our legs and lift our spirits.
At one point, O was over on a small playspace with another little girl about his age. The two of them were having a great time running, jumping and climbing and they smiled and laughed without a care in the world. The girl’s parents looked at G and I and said “we remember you…”. Turns out, they were the family next to us in the NICU. For weeks and weeks, their baby girl and our baby boy laid next to each other in matching incubators, hooked up to machines while we parents sat diligently by their bedsides, day after day after day.
Here they were today, two and half years later, serendipitously playing side-by-side, two healthy, active and very happy kids. They had no idea what they went through, no idea what WE went through or how that early experience shaped us and will never leave us. They didn’t know and they didn’t care. They were just two toddlers loving life and having a ball one hot summer afternoon.
That one moment was enough to shift our attitudes into a new gear and see the moment in a new light. Yes, we were still tired and yes, he was still pushing our buttons and that didn’t change – but in that instance, our perspective changed. Talk about an “attitude of gratitude” – even though we didn’t say it, I know G and I were thinking the same thing: No matter how frustrated we get, how many times we lose our patience or get angry at O’s ability to be a tiny, human wrecking ball, there is no measure to how incredibly thankful we are.