So we took a long weekend, packed up the boys, and the matchbox cars, and the play mat, and the potty seat, and the pack n' play, and the sippy cups, and a million other things, and trekked up to Lake Tahoe to a cozy little cabin tucked beside the fir trees. Matt and I peeked inside before unloading the boys, opening the wooden door on 495 Woodchuck Drive into a peaceful, serene cabin. Simple, clean design. Huge windows overlooking a forest of trees with similar cabins nestled beneath them. Sunlight streaming through the pine needles and into the little corner of the world that was ours for the weekend.
And then we proceeded to unpack so much life into that little cabin. In under 10 minutes, serenity transformed into beautiful mess. Cars and trains spilled out onto the floor. Boxes of various snacks took up their usual spot on the otherwise spotless, white marble counter tops. The pack 'n play was reassembled beside the king size bed upstairs in the loft. A toddler sized pallet of towels and blankets was quickly made on the floor in the bedroom. The Sanders know how to turn a house into a home in a matter of seconds. We quickly gave up the idea of trying to maintain the crystalline atmosphere, although that was initially the plan.
Because toddlers. And babies with diarrhea. And diapers. And more diapers. And socks. And toys. And real life.
And this is where I need to talk to my own self about expectations.
Because vacation no longer means what it used to mean.
Vacation means memories, and laughter, and adventure, and stories we will tell for years to come.
It also means the tantruming of a toddler on a rainey hike, the taking off of a warm coat to nurse a baby on a cold and windy mountain side, the sleep deprivation of an entire family because when baby can't sleep, ain't nobody gonna sleep at 2 am in a cabin, and parents who occasionally get overwhelmed with the noise, and the mess, and the behaviors that come with this season of life and exchange angry words and angrier looks.
My personality would be tempted to hibernate during this season of babyhood. Because of the work. It is so much work to make memories and plan adventures. And to be honest, most of our adventures backfired this trip. Because of rain. Because of sleep deprivation. Because of a hangry toddler or a diarrhea baby.
Several times Matt and I reminded each other that "We don't NOT do something because it's hard." (Pardon the double negative.) Because in addition to being hard, it was beautiful. And raw. And real. And life. And a season.
There was popcorn on the couch beside the fire in the stove.
There were early morning snuggles with a squishy toddler and a cooing baby.
There were fist fulls of rocks thrown into the lake on a lonely beach.
There was a toddler running around the "Abenture House," eating "Abenture Chili," taking an "Abenture Bath," using the "Abenture Potty," and sleeping in an "Abenture Bed."
Even the backfired hikes, like the cold and wet hike/run back through the trees with rain dripping off our hair as we thawed out frozen noses and pink cheeks in the car, is a precious memory (in hindsight). Because we did something hard. Together. And we can look back and say "Hey, remember when we did something hard?" And we will all look back and remember that Sanders can do hard things together. (Ok, Milo won't remember and neither will Oliver in a month or two, but Matt and I will hold the memory for them.)
And I hope I have the courage to keep doing hard things with them. I hope I keep doing the work of adventures. Because our heart is to build a sense of identity as a family. A sense of "Sanders-ness" for our boys. And I have this growing sense that developing the culture that lives inside our home means doing the work to make adventures happen. Enjoying the ones that pan out. Living through the ones that backfire. And making a record of them all, so we can look back and laugh, and wince, and remember what it is to be a Sanders.
For this season of life, vacations are work. A lot of work.
Self, you need to adjust your expectations about this and decide to do the work. Because even the hard is sweet.