It’s not that I dislike turkey or the Macy’s parade or kicking off the Christmas season. To the contrary, this is my favorite day of the entire year. (A holiday celebrated with good food and gratitude? Yes, please.) But this would be the first time Seabass traveled away from home, and the thought of it filled me with anxiety and despair for, oh, about as long as he’s been alive.
Thankfully, the trip to Grandma and Grandpa Lewis’ house in Big Bear Lake was not nearly as hellacious as I’d expected. Seabass slept decently well for the seven hours it took to get there, as well as the four days we spent away. We, on the other hand, did not. Not having slept in the same room with him since he was a newborn, we startled him with our every move. The mere plumping of a pillow invited sniffles and whines that threatened to escalate into howls. Suffice it to say that after the first night, I opted to sleep on an air mattress under the pool table rather than share a room with Mr. Sensitive.
In Big Bear, Seabass enjoyed his first snow and a couple tiny bites of turkey.
He even got a reindeer sleeper from Grandma and sported it around the village to the many oohs and aahs of onlookers.
For me, the best part was handing him off any time he made so much as a dissatisfied grunt. Many hands make light work. Brilliant.
Unfortunately, it was the trip home that confirmed my dread of traveling with an infant. Holiday traffic on the freeways of Los Angeles kept Seabass from ever really falling asleep, plus he was just too distracted by being away from home to nurse very well, if at all. He was miserable, letting out a gut-wrenching “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH” that nothing could appease. We stopped for food in Oxnard and Jake took the baby and the dog out to a patch of grass in front of Wendy’s to roll around and expend some energy. I stayed in the car to pump a backlog of about 19 gallons from my right boob while scarfing a Quizno’s sub. The only thing missing was a ringmaster and a tent.
The remaining two and a half hours of the drive, I was behind the wheel while Jake attempted to entertain the boy to no avail. There was no toy, no song, no game, no snack that could placate him. Poor Jake tried it all, but once we were within15 miles of home, over the din of wailing he declared, “Okay, that’s it. Everyone just has to deal with the crying until we’re back at the house.” And with that, he pushed his fingers into his ears and stared out the window, effectively shutting down. He might as well have hung a sign around his neck reading “CLOSED FOR BUSINESS.”
This is one of the big differences between my parenting style and Jake’s. He can turn off, but it’s very difficult for me. “Seabass!” I cooed from the driver’s seat, pushing my hand over the back of the infant seat to touch his furry head. “SEA-bass! Oh SEA-bass!! Almost there, sweetheart!! Almost there!!” I sang frantically, trying to distract him from his misery in any way I could while driving. He kept crying all the way to the curb outside our house, so I don’t know whose parenting method is more effective, mine or Jake’s.
In any case, we made it home safely – if you don’t count the safety of our eardrums – putting Seabass down at 6:30pm and falling into bed ourselves shortly thereafter for a total of 10 hours.
It is a wonderful thing to see family, to travel together and to experience a change of pace. But in the end, there’s no place like home.