This year I think one trip to Port Dover was enough. It was a fun day, but exhausting and stressful. I don't think I could survive it again!
I always worry how Michelle will be during a long car ride. I got lucky when we went to Wasaga. She napped on the way there and on the way home. I didn't get so lucky when we headed to Dover.
My sister had been having some car trouble and didn't want to risk a long trip so I offered to take her, Shannon and Reggie in my car. It was great having them along for the ride. Michelle was fascinated having Shannon and Reggie in the backseat with her. She didn't sleep at all during the ride to the beach (and she hadn't even had her morning nap on the way to my sister's place). Michelle was happy for most of the ride and when she started to fuss the kids and I sang silly songs to keep her entertained. "Found a peanut,
found a peanut, found a peeeeeeeeeanut last night..."
We set up our tents, I dressed Michelle in her bathing suit, covered her in sunscreen and then let her loose. She was so excited running around the beach and playing in the sand. I couldn't believe how much energy she had on no sleep.
Usually she has two naps a day or at least one. This time she hadn't slept at all. Still there was no stopping her. I could barely keep up. I only got to sit down for a few seconds before I'd have to chase after her again and keep her out of trouble.
Michelle still isn't a fan of the water. It wasn't too cold and I tried to go in with her a little bit but she started to fuss so I gave up after a while. She loved the sand though. She was playing with pails and shovels and running around all over the place. I had to keep her from falling into holes, tripping over branches, getting into stranger's things (she would see a ball or a pail or towel and go to grab it. The world is hers for the taking she figures. She doesn't yet understand that not everything is hers. It figures that one of the words she's able to say now is "Mine!" She even says beach too. She's still saying a new word every day.)
Everything was going great until all of a sudden, exhaustion set in and Michelle crashed. She started to scream. When Michelle is not happy she wants to make sure that everyone within a 300 mile radius can hear her. She screams like I'm torturing or killing her. What I was doing was trying to comfort her, changing her diaper (full of sand. Not fun to change even when your baby isn't shrieking like something unholy), getting her dressed, getting out her milk, offering her a snack, her soother, anything. It was embarrassing. I don't like Michelle crying which is partly why I never sleep trained her because I don't have the heart to let her scream indefinitely, it's bad enough for a minute or two. When we're at home it's bad enough. When we're out in public it's brutal. My sister and her kids were way out in the water having a good time. I thought she'd hear Michelle but it seems she didn't. I finally had to rock Michelle in my arms until she would fall asleep. My sister came back to shore when Michelle was resting in my arms.
"She's been pretty good today!" my sister said. I think I started to twitch. My left arm had gone numb, my ears were still ringing, I was sweating profusely.
"Actually, she just had a complete meltdown screaming her head off. It was a nightmare. You missed it." My sister joked that I must just be making it up/exaggerating.
I tried putting Michelle down on a towel in the sand because I couldn't feel my arm anymore. The instant I put her down she woke up and cried so I had to pick her up again and rock her. It was hard enough carrying her when she was a newborn. Now she's so heavy it feels like my arm is going to fall off.
She is high maintenance but I adore her and I do whatever it takes to make her happy. Some (many actually) have said that I'm spoiling her and it's my own fault because I indulge her every whim and don't let her cry more than a minute (never sleep trained her etc.) Though at her worst it's a lot to take, at her best she's an angel and I wouldn't have her any other way. Her happiness means more to me than my own life. She is my number one priority. My health, sleep, sanity, etc are secondary. (I used to see the logic in "You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else." until I became a Mom and logic is out the window. Now it's just primal. She comes first. End of story.)
When we were packing up to leave, Michelle had another meltdown. AGAIN my sister missed it! She had just taken the kids off to the bathroom and Michelle started screaming. "I think you're making it up!" my sister joked with me again. Why would I make that up?! But my sister did get to see one of Michelle's temper tantrums when we got back to her place. She was running around and a ball of energy at first but then ran out of steam again and was so exhausted she was staggering like a drunk man. She was overtired, overstimulated and was fighting sleep though she was ready to pass out from exhaustion. That's my girl!
Michelle had a good morning nap and even fell asleep in the afternoon just as we reached the beach so I actually got to go SWIMMING for a minute! I told my Mom to signal me if Michelle woke up and I ran into the water. Usually I have a hard time with cold water and have to work my way in gradually but I knew I may only have a few seconds so I ran straight in and swam a few laps immediately. It's kind of a metaphor for life -- just dive in because you don't know how long you'll have and you might as well enjoy it. The water was so refreshing. I even floated on my back for a bit. It was awesome! I felt so free. I could just barely make out Michelle sleeping in her carseat on the shore next to my Mom. Then my Mom started putting her hands up to her eyes as though she was rubbing her eyes. I thought Michelle must be crying so I hurried back to the shore only to find her still asleep. My Mom was trying to say Michelle was still sleeping. I wish she'd just given me a thumbs up. I was just so grateful to have a couple of minutes to myself. Michelle woke up shortly after but was in good spirits and had a ball playing on the sand and didn't even mind me bringing her into the water.
Michelle was quite a hit on the beach. A group of kids were making a fuss of her. "She's so cute! What's her name? How old is she? Wow she's really smart! Can I pick her up? Can I hold her hand? " It was almost overwhelming. They all wanted to pick her up like she was a little doll. They followed us everywhere around the beach and into the water. Michelle started to get upset and I had to ask them not to try grabbing her. "Why is she crying?" one of them asked. "She's a bit nervous of strangers," I explained. "We're not strangers," the girl said. "But she doesn't know you," I told her (which is of course the definition of a stranger but I guess at that age the girl didn't understand. Or maybe she thought strangers were just adults you didn't know and that other kids were safe.) I couldn't resist getting a couple of photos. It felt like Michelle was a rock star with fans following her around everywhere. I could imagine her as a young starlet ducking to escape the overzealous paparazzi. Of course there is no escape from the MAMARAZZI! I was snapping photos like a fiend.
|What's wrong with this picture?!|
At the end of the day as we were heading to our cars I ran into an old flame by the snack bar. It was like a tiny dagger in my heart seeing him with the new girl in his life. It's selfish and silly of me to expect my former loves to remain suspended in animation, to never move on with their lives but pine for me in perpetuity! Of course they do move on to other relationships, marriages, etc. I moved on too. Life changes.
He admired Michelle. "She has beautiful eyes!" he said. "How old is she?" "A year," I replied, though in retrospect it would have been more accurate to say 13 months minus a day or so. (13 months just sounds strange. I never hear anyone say their baby is 13 months. Maybe it's bad luck.)
It was strange seeing him. It was like meeting the ghost of summers past, reminding me of my former life -- romance, adventure, carefree days lying in the sun, wild nights dancing under the moonlight. But it's OK. I have a new girl in my life too and I love her far more than I've ever loved any man. I used to be afraid of commitment but I'm completely committed to her (I have to be! I'll be her Mom forever!) My life has changed in ways I never imagined but it's a good change. Even on the worst of days. Even when she screams like a siren on the beach. Because the good days with Michelle are the best I've ever had and nothing in my life up to now compares to the joy of having this little girl.