Dear Pregnant Woman On Vacation At The Pool –
I saw you on our last day of vacation when we came to the pool for one last swim. I first noticed you and thought oh how beautiful. You were sunbathing while I was set back in the shade because; wrinkles (you’ll understand in about fifteen years). I saw you dutifully laying on your side because the books tell you that laying on your back will cut off blood flow to the baby and you aren’t about to start with the mom guilt this early. I saw your husband lovingly rub your back as you waddled to the bar for a virgin pina colada. I saw you cuddling with him in the pool, whispering sweet secrets to each other, probably telling each other how you can’t wait to be parents. It was all precious.
I knew right off that this was going to be your first baby. First, you had a book and a magazine and you were actually reading them. Next, you were lounging by the pool for a long period of uninterrupted time. The dead giveaway that you had yet to embark on motherhood was that you looked relaxed on your vacation.
I fought the urge to sidle up to you and tell you to enjoy this time. Really take it in. Take a mental picture of your surroundings, how it feels to just lie there for hours. Think about all the free time you have and burn it in your memory. I wanted to tell you to relish this fleeting time you have with your husband in paradise because it will be at least six to twelve years (maybe more depending on your rate and frequency of procreation) before you will be able to enjoy vacation again.
I’m going to be honest and blunt. Vacations with infants, babies, and toddlers aren’t really fun or enjoyable for parents. Sure, it’s nice to get away and see something different but for the most part, when you get home you will be worn out and need a vacation from the vacation. Preparing a baby for the pool takes about three hours of prep. Blowing up floaties, assembling sun shades, applying sunscreen, wrangling a squirming, crying baby into a swim diaper, then hauling every piece of swim gear known to man plus your twenty-pound diaper bag that is prepared for every possible scenario from your hotel room to the pool. The walk may only be about 100 feet but you will feel like Moses in the dessert. All of this prep seems like it will take the rest of your life and it will be well into baby’s nap time by the time you dip a toe into the water. Just as you ease yourself and your precious cargo into the water, he will get that face that tells you the poop he has been holding in for the past three days is finally making its debut.
Once you clean him up and put on a new swim diaper, you will have about three minutes in the actual water before you realize you need to nurse him or use your boobs as a flotation device. Back to the room you go. You will probably just want to stay there because the idea of hauling everything back across that desert to the promised land is more than you can handle that day.
Toddlers and small children are a different level of insanity on vacation. Extreme meltdowns will happen. Usually at the most inopportune times. Just accept it.
Pool time with toddlers should be an Olympic sport. Or a torture technique to extract top secret information. Most of your energy will be spent making sure nobody drowns. While you sit with one child in the kiddie pool (which is not warm because of the sun) you will ask your husband no less than three thousand times where the 5-year-old is.
Just when you get everyone situated in a floaty and in the pool, someone will splash water in someone’s face and the crying will start. About three seconds after they promise not to splash each other, the splashee will retaliate and become the splasher. More crying. Your solution is to offer snacks and haul everyone out of the water. Just as you settle down to a snack in the shade they will need to go to the bathroom. Trying to pull a wet swimsuit up a wet body is like trying to use super glue instead of WD40 on a squeaky door hinge. When you get back from the bathroom and suggest they lie down in the shade for a rest, they will demand to get back in the pool and the entire cycle starts over. But not before you reapply SPF 65 sunblock to every inch of their skin as they are actively trying to escape your grasp.
Three words. Sand. In. Diapers. That is all I will say about that for now.
Evenings on vacation will consist of you laying in your dark hotel room at 8:30 pm staring at the ceiling. Yes, the resort may offer poolside movies after dark, but your kids have been up since 4:00 am and if you have to tell them to stop jumping off of the bed and making the downstairs guests think there is an 8.3 earthquake in progress one more time, listen to one more meltdown or order one more $17 chicken finger dinner, you are going to lose your shit. Again.
You will try putting them to bed at 10:00 pm thinking that they will be so exhausted that surely they will sleep until the sun comes up. But Murphy’s Law guarantees that they will still wake up at 4:00 am because of the time change. Unless you need them to get up early to be ready for some incredible excursion you paid $500 for. In that case, they will want to sleep until lunch.
As you lie in that dark room, listening to their little breathing and jerky movements, you will wonder why you paid $1,500 in airfare to come to paradise just to be miserable. You will hear the distant sounds of adults having the time of their lives down at the bar and wonder if you will ever again, for the rest of your entire adult life, be able to enjoy a vacation.
I wanted to tell you all of this but I wanted to also give you hope.
It will not always be hell in paradise. At some point your children will learn to swim and not need your constant supervision. Your job at the pool will not always and forever be to keep your kids from drowning. Eventually, you will be able to sit in the shade and watch them from afar. Someday you will be able to take them to a restaurant and they won’t act like a pack of wild hyenas and you won’t have to tip 30% because of the mess you left for the waiter to clean up. There will come a time when they will sleep like normal human beings, and if they do wake up early they will know how to turn the tv on themselves or plug themselves into their headphones and device so you can sleep past the time that only nocturnal animals are still awake.
There will come a time when family vacations are actually…fun. Your kids will be able to participate in the activities without having a meltdown because they missed their nap. And when they start to whine and roll their eyes you can lay on the guilt about not having grateful hearts or being thankful that you provided such an amazing experience in the first place.
There will come a time when you might actually be able to loosen up and relax. Your kids might actually have fun and explore on their own. You might sing karaoke at the top of your lungs while your kids just roll their eyes and go in the other room. You and your husband might actually look into each other’s eyes and do the big exhale.
Gird your loins, beautiful sunbathing pregnant goddess. When it comes to vacations, it will be bleak for some time. But there is light.
I wanted to tell you all that as enjoyed your last kid-free vacation. But that would be really weird, so I’ll just leave this letter here for you on the vast world wide web instead.
A mom who did her infant-baby-small-child-vacation time