I loved spending time with lots of family and friends that I hadn't seen in a long time. The pinnacle example of this was seeing Ryan and Tasha, friends I graduated with and ... kind of haven't seen since. (Actually, I saw Ryan once at our 10 year reunion, but that was 7 years ago and all I remember from that encounter was his repeated - and wholly justified - mocking of the crappy band hired for the event.) As a bonus, Ryan and Tasha have a brand new baby girl, and I got to hold her! Score one for me!
I also got to connect with friends who were sort of on my outer circle prior to this trip. To be blunt: they were mostly my ex-husband's friends. But they invited Gwen and I over for a morning, and now they are OUR friends too. That felt really good. Added bonus: four-month-old baby! I totally got to hold her too! Value-added bonus: Gwen got along really well with their older son and there was a hilarious moment when the two toddlers decided they didn't want us mommies in their space and pushed us out of the bedroom. So yeah, my daughter was alone in a bedroom with a boy. Didn't think THAT would happen for a few years yet, haha! Super-duper added bonus: they are moving to the Island soon! Lucky Gwen, she won't have to worry about the challenges of a long-distance relationship.
I was also really impressed by Gwen's cousins' behaviour towards and treatment of her. Andrew (7) and Scotty (nearly 4) are now old enough to realize that Gwen is smaller and less hardy than they are, and they treated her accordingly. Many, many times throughout my stay at their house, one or both of the boys was watching/taking care of Gwen for a few minutes while I had a shower, packed the suitcase, got lunch ready, etc. It was a real treat.
One day, I took Gwen to the mall, intending to buy a sunhat for myself. I ended up buying a few other things in the process as well. Gwen was in the stroller for about an hour all told, while I wheeled her around and tried on clothes. Somehow, she tolerated this. I know some grown people who have difficulty with this kind of errand. Actually, come to think of it, I'm one of them - so it's really kind of mind-blowing that she behaved as well as she did.
Sidenote: upon exiting the mall, it was POURING rain. Raining so hard that it was bouncing back up off the pavement. Raining so hard that Gwen said, "Mama, it's raining bubbles." And I couldn't remember EXACTLY where I'd left the car. And Gwen and I were both in summery clothes and she was in the stroller and by the time I found the car her pants were as wet as if they'd just come out of the washer, and my feet were sloshing in my sandals. I just kept laughing and laughing. I thought it was too over the top hilarious. I said to Gwen, "I just can't believe it!" and she echoed me back, which made me laugh even harder.
Sidesidenote: since buying that sunhat, we actually haven't seen the sun a single time. Bite me, WEATHER.
Gwen is ... kind of a lot to handle. And while I am very used to her antics, setting her against the backdrop of other places and other people really sharply accentuates that she is a 30-pound bundle of CRAZY. Nowhere was this more evident than at the beautiful, pages-of-a-magazine home of two of our friends, where Gwen rapidly unfurled half a roll of toilet paper into the toilet, the resolution of which required a plunger. Um. Yes. That would be MY kid.
The night before we left on our trip, you may recall, Gwen stayed over at her Gramma and Grandpa's. It was discovered on that night that Gwen can now climb out of the playpen. Did this have an impact on our trip? OH HO HO. If by "impact" you mean "her sleep got worse and worse as the trip went on and by the end of the trip, "bedtime" was at 10pm and came with ~20 minutes of HARDCORE screaming before finally crashing, usually SIDEWAYS in MY BED" then yes, I'd say there was an impact.
(At home, Gwen sleeps in a toddler bed. She only uses a playpen while travelling, or at Gramma's, or at daycare. And when she's at home in her room, if she decides she's not quite ready to go to sleep, I have no problem with her getting out of bed and wandering around the perfectly safe and free-from-breakable-objects room. But when staying in other people's houses? Those rooms do not generally meet the criteria for toddler-wandering. And thus, she needs to stay in her playpen. And with that era at an end, the sleep was also at an end.)Gwen's behaviour and mood deteriorated accordingly. Which reminds me: if you happened to be on the 12:10pm ferry from PR to Comox this past Monday, and got to witness Gwen's ear-splitting, body-flinging temper tantrums in the cafeteria? I'm really sorry. I don't even know what she was upset about. I hope the shrieking didn't impact on your enjoyment of the ferry food.
She missed her nap most days, and anywhere between one and three hours of her typical 12-hour nighttime sleep. That's like a third of her daily sleep. If you missed a third of YOUR sleep for 5 days or so, you'd be a bitch, too. So I understand why it happened. It still sucked to be a part of it.
Also (Beware, Grandpa George and other delicate readers): The fucking weather can GO FUCK ITSELF RIGHT IN THE EAR. Remember how I mentioned above that we haven't seen the sun since that nasty rainstorm on the way out of the mall? It's true. And that was halfway through our holiday. Ten-day holiday with a toddler? Potentially fun. Ten-day holiday with a toddler who isn't sleeping? Kind of dodgy. Ten-day holiday with a toddler who isn't sleeping and hasn't been outside for three days? FUCK THIS NOISE.
There are two parts of this that irritate me. One is that I have once again been catapulted back into the pre-sleep-training days where I can't answer any question - How are you, what's new, how was your trip - without relating in some significant way to Gwen's sleep. I hated that then and I hated it now - I despise being so one-dimensional.
The other part that irritates me is that after a good night's sleep at home on Monday and a solid nap at daycare on Tuesday, Gwen transformed into an entirely different child. I came home Tuesday afternoon to a cheerful, articulate, charming and good-natured little girl. THIS is the child I wanted to go on holiday with. THIS is the child I wanted to show off to my friends and family. I missed this little girl A LOT.
So yeah, we're home. I have to charge the camera battery in order to get the pictures off. I have to keep working with Gwen to get her sleep schedule back to normal. I have to catch up on all the stuff that happened while I was gone. I have to reflect on the trip and figure out how to do it better next time.
It's good to be home.