Now that we've been back home and settled in for almost a week, I've had a little time to think back on our trips and the week as a whole. It was great to have the time off. I think mentally I needed it and I came back to work a little bit refreshed (albeit still tired) and ready to get stuff done. In some cases it was nice getting back into a routine, but then reality hit of my everyday schedule of getting up, getting ready, packing up Jacob's food, waking him up if he's not already, getting Craig up to get Jacob ready, finishing up Jacob's food (breakfast is last because I want his waffle to be a little warm when we get to day care), packing everything up, dropping him at day care, heading to the office, working until 5:15 or 5:30, jumping back in the car, either getting Jacob or heading home or heading to the gym, making dinner, playing with Jacob, maybe getting in his bath, getting him in bed, washing dishes, grabbing a little TV or computer time, then heading to bed, only to get too little sleep and start all over again. It's a tough existence because I know that ultimately it's not the best for any of us.
The nice part of the week off was just being able to spend time with Jacob. Not all of it may have been the best quality time, and there were many times he was downright frustrating, but still...it was a blessing to have the opportunity to spend that much time with him because it's so rare. Weekends are just too short. Still, it re-emphasized that I'm probably not cut out to be a full time stay at home mom...but oh, wouldn't part time be awesome? We could get in playgroups and find fun things to do, get him into some sort of educational routine, etc. I'm sure there are many things we're not doing enough of at home to start getting him into colors, animals, letters and numbers. I know he's just one but it never hurts to start. We definitely should be reading more and things like that, but I know he doesn't sit well for that stuff so rather than fight him I'd rather he enjoy what limited time we do have together. I hope to delve more into this in future posts, but the point is that if we had more time together during the week, I think I'd work a heck of a lot harder at finding creative ways to intentionally teach him things.
As I mentioned, at times he was a handful. I don't know if he's just trying to assert his independence, or if his teeth were bothering him, or if we just don't bring out the best in him, but he really had his moments. He was out of his routine, and maybe that was tough for him. We obviously love him, but each of us had moments where we literally had to hand him off and walk away for a bit.
Knowing what we know now, I'm pretty grateful we didn't do a full vacation. My original vacation wish would have involved seven hours in the car. That would have been disasterous at this point. Jacob just isn't at the point where that's a good idea. He's too old to sleep the whole time and too young to be kept busy with activities. I look forward to a time when he can color, play games, watch movies all the way through, and find ways to keep himself occupied on long trips. It was hard enough packing for weekends, let alone for a week or part of a week. For example, he's somewhere between being able to eat adult food anywhere we go and still eating meals I put together for him. My meals are balanced but considerably less exciting than most places out there. I try to include vegetables and fruit as much as I can, even if he won't eat many veggies. Even when we eat out these days I try to bring extra stuff to up the health quotient. But even still, we had to bring a whole assortment of foods and a carton of whole milk, just in case we hit all worst case scenarios. Doing that for two weekends was a lot of work, but I had a break in the middle to just be normal. In addition, Jacob takes a lot of stuff. He did as a baby and still does. Before it was the humidifer and boppy pillow...and now it's the cooler of food and an assortment of toys. The car was full each weekend, so I can only imagine what it would have looked like for a week. More food and more clothes at the very least. It's scary to think about. I know how tired I was when we got back from Pittsburgh. I can only imagine how a week at the beach with all of this baggage would have been. And if Jacob would have been that miserable, it would have made for a tough week of sightseeing.
Still, it would have been nice to escape a bit more, venture out into the world, and get a few more awesome pictures of new and different things. We definitely want to show Jacob the world, but we also know that the longer we wait, the more he'll "get it". On the other hand, I know that any vacation wouldn't have just been for him...we need to get away too, regardless of his response to it.
Early in the summer when we were pondering our vacation options, I wondered how Jacob would be by this point in the summer. He'd be over 13 months old...would he be walking? Talking? Would he be more interactive and have an understanding of what he was seeing? Would he be eating normal foods by then? I hoped all of the answers would be yes, but at this point, they're merely creeping toward that. He's not walking, he's barely talking, and sometimes I'm just not sure he fully comprehends too much. He's getting better with the eating, but like everything else it's a major work in progress. And really, I suppose most of it will be for a long time. I know he's changed a lot just since the beginning of summer. It's amazing what two months can bring. But I hoped that overall we'd be a little more functional by the time vacation hit. We weren't...we tried, but still...in the end I was grateful we didn't spend more money and more car time for a real vacation, no matter how much more we may have enjoyed it. There would have been a rough side to that as well, and at this point I was content to stay close to home and explore that reality for a bit since it's something we rarely get to do.
This weekend is our first weekend at home in a month. It's been nice to not be in the car or on the road or living out of a suitcase. Being at home (both on our vacation and on weekends) gives us a chance to rediscover some of Jacob's home tendencies. When we were traveling during all of our freetime, it was tough to know what was "normal" for Jacob...because our time with him was inherently abnormal. We were staying somewhere else and operating under a totally different system than we do at home, so everything was inevitably different. Even now I'm trying to figure out if there are easier ways to get him down for a nap, because we didn't do that at home for so long and on the road I was constantly relying on walks, car rides, etc.
I'm sure there were more things I pondered during those long car trips or other quiet times during our time off, but I can't really think of them right now. But at the end of the day it comes down to this: Most days I still wish I had a little extra time to spend with Jacob, and I'm bummed that we can only pull that off a couple times a year. It was nice while it lasted, though!