Sometimes I forget the difficult journey to parenthood we experienced. I am in complete Mom-mode these days, chasing around an ever-willful toddler and my pre-baby life is fading in the rear-view mirror. Being a Mama was very important to me personally, and like so many women who struggle with infertility, it certainly wasn’t an easy task to become one. So Mother’s Day holds a special place in my heart and is absolutely something to celebrate. There are many women who love to get dolled up and enjoy a fancy brunch with their families, or spend the day being spoiled at the spa. Those things sound pretty dreamy, but my perfect way to celebrate motherhood is camping with my family. Bonus if my own Mom is there. And, wouldn’t you know it? I got my wish!
It’s always a great day when we first prep the camper for the season, and since Willie is still new to us, we’re still figuring things out. The week before we left, we took the cover off and aired out the pop-out bed. It was fun to play on the bed with Oden and get him used to the camper, since the last time we had him in it, he was so tiny that he couldn’t roll over yet! It’s amazing how much babies change in such a short time. I also did my best to plan our menu, shop for food, pack the pantry and fridge, and pack clothes and gear for baby, dog, and Mommy. I knew going in that camping with a toddler wouldn’t be a relaxing walk in the park, so I wanted to be prepared!
The last time we drove the 7-hour trip to Durango, we didn’t realize that Oden had outgrown his infant car seat and that’s why he screamed whenever he was in it. The trip took over 10 hours and we vowed to figure out a way to make it less maddening the next time. Our solution was to camp halfway in Moab. I found a spot at an RV park that had shade and made a reservation for us on the way to and from Durango. We could make it a few hours, we told ourselves, especially if we aligned with Oden’s nap. Brilliant!
Needless to say, things did not go as planned. It took longer to pack the truck on Friday morning than John planned. I urged him to flush the water system for the first time of the season before we filled the tank, which he did, but he forgot that we’d opened up each faucet for winter. Water spurted from the sinks and shower, which was extra lame because I’d already packed our bedding, towels, and pillows in the shower for travel. We kept Oden awake longer than usual and prayed he’d pass out for the majority of the drive. It worked, and I even had a few minutes to start in on a magazine until John felt like he should check the bike and paddleboard on the roof (which was, indeed, loose). The interruption ended nap time and it was Mama vs. Oden for the next few hours.
We rolled into Moab at the peak of busy-ness, around 6:30pm on Friday night. Oden had a wet diaper that needed changing and was overdue for dinner. Mama was overdue for a glass of wine. The RV park looked like a crazy, crowded scene, but we were relieved to be done traveling for the night. Unfortunately, they had no record of our reservation and the only sites left were dirt lots in between giant, generator-using rigs. It was less than ideal but we had no other option, so John backed Willie in for the night. We “set up” as minimally as possible and listened to the dirt bikes and off-road vehicles drive by all evening, which caused Cholula to bark. I had the task of trying to get Oden to sleep in all of this noise, but thanks to the sound machine we brought from home and the fact that it was nearing 9:30pm, he snuggled in with me with a bottle and was just drifting off to sleep when I heard a diesel truck backing another rig in next to us! By some miracle, Oden slept in his pack n’ play and John broke in Willie’s outdoor gas grill to make delicious grilled chicken sandwiches. Morning came early (hello, dirtbikes), but the best thing about a baby is how flexible and resilient they are. We sipped lots of coffee while he bounced around happily on our bed. I took Oden on a stroller walk and did some incredible people-watching while John packed up camp. I had visions of the dreamy scene awaiting us in a few short hours. We left as soon as possible- Colorado or bust!
My parents’ house has a fabulous yard that feels like a park. Everything was green and in bloom and it was such a relief to have reached our destination! They say, “Home is where your Mom is.” There was even a home-baked apple pie on the stove when we walked in, made with apples from the trees in the yard. We spent a glorious afternoon relaxing with drinks in the shade, watching Oden play with a rake, a lacrosse stick, tennis balls, pinecones. Before bed, we plopped our dirty little toddler in the kitchen sink. I’ll always remember that bath in Grandma’s sink!
The next morning, John had some work to do so Oden and I joined my folks at church (for part of the service, anyway, until Oden was done). Beforehand, I really wanted to get a Mother’s Day photo with my little guy. After initially protesting, Oden gave me some adorable smiles! I also got a photo of my sweet Mama that I’ll cherish!
It was time to camp! My folks headed up the hill to Haviland Lake in their new RV ahead of us. By the time we got there, they were set up and relaxing. Oden got some grandparent time while we got situated, then John took Oden to the water to explore while I sipped some of my Mother’s Day wine with my folks. They returned with a chubby fistful of dandelions, which Oden gave to Grandma and me. My heart exploded. We ended the day with a tasty ham dinner and some time by the fire.
Oden ended up in our bed that night, and would the next, too. Despite the lack of sleep for John and I, we actually enjoyed all being snuggled in the same bed (Cholula included). It was cozy and felt special to be tucked in with my family. After some morning play time while I fried some bacon to contribute to brunch, we went over to my folks’ site for Mom’s macadamia nut pancakes, fresh fruit, bacon, and fancy mimosas. Yum!
The day was filled with walks with Oden, following him around as he dragged Grandpa’s plastic shovel everywhere, some “boy time” fishing at the lake, some devilved eggs and wine for Mom and me. Oden really does love being outside and is fascinated by flowers. I love that he stops to touch each dandelion because it’s special; it’s not a weed to him!
It was our night to make dinner, which was a tasty Trader Joe’s BBQ tri-tip, salad, and corn on the cob. I also used Willie’s little oven for the first time and made coconut brownies for our dessert! The only bad part of the day was knowing we had to leave in the morning. Oden had some extra grandparent time while we packed up, including time with that beloved shovel. My mom makes the BEST to-go breakfasts, usually an English muffin sandwich or something. This time, we had scrumptious breakfast burritos on the road. Each bite made me miss my folks more, particularly when my mom sent a photo of them relaxing by a fire! Oden fell asleep and we stopped multiple times to get his wiggles out. He did so well on the drive that we made the decision to drive all the way home instead of staying at that RV park again.
When we got home after just a few days away, the yard seemed lusher and the trees were all flowering. Even though our trip was shorter than we’d have liked, coming home to real spring weather made it a bit easier.
I won’t talk about the next morning.
Another Mother’s Day has come and gone, and next year, Oden will be a whole different little guy. I look back at last Mother’s Day, my first, and can’t believe how much has changed in him and our life since then. My main goal for these events is to make memories that matter to Oden and my family, and also John and me. Mission accomplished! Who knows what the year ahead will bring, but I can tell you this: save the fancy Mother’s Day brunch. Let’s just go camping. (Mimosas welcome!)