Pack­ing while par­ent­ing

Maryland Independent - - Southern Matyland Classified - Twit­ter: @right­meg

The pack­ing has be­gun. Though we have gone away twice with our 1-yearold, both trips were to see fam­ily in New York. Ex­tra hands to help with the baby let us re­lax a bit, but those weren’t tra­di­tional va­ca­tions. And trav­el­ing with a baby? Stress­ful.

Es­pe­cially af­ter Ol­lie’s out­bursts have landed us on the No Fly List.

We’re head­ing to the Outer Banks soon — an an­nual fam­ily va­ca­tion that took us to the same de­light­fully worn beach house in Kill Devil Hills for decades. It was a chance for many gen­er­a­tions to spend time to­gether . . . and en­gage in some se­ri­ous Uno throw­downs.

Board game bat­tles were waged and lost; hearts bro­ken and re­paired. If I had a down day, I would think about that mo­ment when we’d pull into the long drive and leap into the thick, salty air. My sis­ter and I would race up­stairs to claim our beds, then find my grand­par­ents in the great room — din­ner plans al­ready un­der­way.

As a child, the house seemed huge. Fa­mil­iar. Katie and I al­ways ran around in a com­pe­ti­tion to spot the home’s changes from one sum­mer to the next: new tile in the bath­room; fresh com­forters on the bunk beds.

It’s been three years since I went to the beach, and this year will be filled with firsts. We’ll be stay­ing in new digs, for one. It’s my first time va­ca­tion­ing as a par­ent my­self. Also baby’s first road trip, and first ex­pe­ri­ence in the sand and surf (from a very safe dis­tance). It will also be Oliver’s first time stay­ing more than a few nights away from home.

So I’m pan­ick­ing, of course. And pan­ick­ing re­quires pack­ing — or over­pack­ing. No bag­gage fees on road trips, right?

Well . . . un­less my hus­band starts charg­ing. Which is en­tirely pos­si­ble.

Af­ter the rain fi­nally broke on Satur­day, the usual yard sales beck­oned. I pulled out a notepad on our drive to Prince Fred­er­ick, con­tent to have Spencer as my cap­tive au­di­ence.

“OK,” I an­nounced. “Let’s talk about what we need for the beach.”

Baby food. Baby spoons. Bibs: wa­ter­proof and ter­rycloth. Baby bot­tles. Soap to clean the bot­tles. The dry­ing rack for the bot­tles and cups.

Oliver’s clothes. Ex­tra clothes when Oliver ruins his clothes. De­ter­gent to wash those clothes when the ex­tras are all gone. A swim di­a­per? Tow­els. Sun­screen with an SPF of, like, 500. At least.

Oliver’s fa­vorite blan­ket. Oliver’s back-up fa­vorite blan­ket. Half the toys from the liv­ing room, which will also re­quire dig­ging for the lost Lit­tle Peo­ple be­neath the cof­fee ta­ble. Pretty sure they’ve joined forces with the dust bun­nies by now.

Gone are the days when I would ca­su­ally bring down a suit­case, fill it with cute tops and fret if I for­got a nail file. While Spence gath­ers the usual as­sort­ment of socks and faded T-shirts an hour or two be­fore we leave, I’m al­ways cross-check­ing my list with my other pack­ing lists — tick­ing ev­ery­thing off like a health in­spec­tor. (And I would still score a C+.)

You’d think I was pre­par­ing to sep­a­rate from civ­i­liza­tion. I mean, we’ll pass a dozen big box stores en route to the beach — and there’s a Kmart within walk­ing dis­tance of the condo. But I hate hav­ing to pur­chase what I’ve al­ready over-pur­chased at home. It’s ir­ri­tat­ing. You know the re­us­able bags now sold at most stores? I’ve amassed dozens. They’re lined up like sen­tinels in the hall­way, home goods or­ga­nized in each: tow­els, wash­cloths and bed­ding; toi­letries and bath­room prod­ucts; snacks, drinks and wa­ter; books, mag­a­zines and candy. (Every trav­eler needs candy.) I thought — again — of a fraz­zled woman Spencer and I en­coun­tered years ago in an air­port. She was trav­el­ing alone with a lug­gage cart full of seem­ingly ran­dom be­long­ings, dig­ging for a board­ing pass while the con­tents of her bags spilled onto the floor. She turned to us with wide eyes, ges­tur­ing wildly at the de­bris. “Do you ever feel like your brain is in all of these bags?” We were po­lite, I hope, and maybe even help­ful — but I was silently scoff­ing. Af­ter she fi­nally left the line to get her chaotic cart un­der con­trol, Spencer and I ex­changed the univer­sal look of “Um, well, that was weird.” Ma’am, dear friend, com­rade, wher­ever you are . . . I am sorry. Some­times, I do feel like my mind is “in all of these bags.” Let’s hope I can find it by the sea.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.