Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This Time Last Week...

We’ve been home for a week & between playing catch up plus catching up on sleep, I just haven’t been able to compose an articulate post…the longer I leave it, it doesn’t get easier & more things continue to happen that I want to share so I must tackle this 1st

It was an awesome trip! For the most part…& that’s where I’m stuck…I don’t want to come across as Cathy Complainer because we really did have an awesome trip & the good stuff was superb…but the bad stuff was really awful…to give an honest account of our vacation, how can I leave out that awfulness? I don’t want you to think that the awfulness consumes my memories, because it doesn’t…

How about we cover the best parts first…Elena was AWESOME on the plane rides!! No major meltdowns tho I am sure the man in front of us wanted to strangle us both…I did my best to keep Elena from kicking, banging, knocking & pushing his seat but she’s a kid so I’m sure in his eyes I failed miserably! On the way down, she fell asleep during takeoff & slept for just over an hour & the rest of the flight was spent entertaining her…she watched some videos, played some games, walked up & down the aisles charming the other passengers, going to the washroom for no other reason than for something to do.

On the flight home, she fell asleep on the bus ride from the hotel to the airport & slept thru check in (only about 45 minutes total) & was awake the entire rest of the trip right up until when we got to our car…with no major meltdowns!!! On her part anyway, I was so damn tired I wanted to stab myself in the eyes! Thankfully with the extra legroom seats we’d purchased, she played on the floor for a bit pretending to sleep & watched videos but due to turbulence, didn’t get to walk the aisles much.

I learned that to head off meltdowns, the more info I gave her of what to expect & what was expected of her, the better she did. Like warning her that when we got to the airport after landing, she’d have to stay in her stroller the whole time, she put up a bit of a fight but I reminded her that this was how it had to be & she complied. Especially after I let her carry our backpack on her lap (the girl likes to be helpful!). Tho it was awkward for her, it made her happy…so if you’re ever out & see a small kid doing something strange like carrying a backpack half the size of them or 2 giant pillows (we did this in the mall once) don’t judge!! If the kid’s not crying, then it’s a good thing!!

We stayed at the Barceló Huatulco Beach Resort…what a spectacularly beautiful place! The weather was beyond perfect, 36 degrees & sunny the ENTIRE time!! We had a very spacious ocean view room with large balcony that included a hammock where we enjoyed the sunrise every morning…yes, Elena was up at sunrise EVERY MORNING!

The grounds were spectacular! They had a large children’s pool that was waist deep for Elena plus a large pool that was chest deep for me…this is where Elena & I spent our mornings. Between the 2 pools we had tons of fun & had them practically to ourselves most of the time.

After all that swimming & sun, Elena would sleep all afternoon, 2 hours or more! Then we usually would venture out on a walk around the resort, to the park or the beach…Elena was less than impressed with the beach! She does not like things on her feet or between her toes so the sand drove her nuts & she didn’t like the surf breaking on the beach, since she doesn’t like loud sounds, I think that contributed to her dislike. I was only able to convince her to dip her toes once & tho she had a good laugh, refused to ever do it again. The funniest was her trying to “stop” the ocean from coming up on the sand by waving her arms frantically! She actually got mad at me for not stopping it! So funny!

There was also a really great park with slides, swings climbing apparatus…plus Elena’s favourite…a trampoline! Elena usually doesn’t get the opportunity to use a trampoline since there are always older kids & I don’t let her for fear she’ll get hurt…but there, she was the only kid! She was able to master the art of jumping & had a ball running & falling & bouncing on the trampoline. They also had little easels she could colour on & little tables to play at.

Sounds perfect, right? An ideal vacation! For the most part…

Even with the perfect children’s pool & the awesome park, this resort was not a toddler friendly place…at least not Canadian toddler friendly. The resort is really more a Mexican vacation destination than tourist-y places like Cancun or Acapulco. There were very few other Canadian (& even less American) families. There were very few children’s choices at the buffet. Some days the best Elena could hope for was French fries. They had hot dogs but this is not something I’d usually offer Elena…not that it mattered since she wouldn’t eat them anyway. Even the days pasta was offered which Elena would happily eat usually, it was often spicy or seafood sauces. Thankfully she did eat a decent breakfast most mornings (bread & jam, pancakes, yogurt) since lunch & dinner would be hit & miss…she didn’t have much of an appetite & I’m sure her tummy wasn’t feeling great a lot of the time plus I know now that she’d been teething (her 2 bottom molars are breaking thru already!!).

On top of that, navigating a buffet with a toddler is challenging at best…with all the people around carrying plates of hot food, I couldn’t let Elena wander so had to carry her. Imagine carrying a child plus plates plus serving food…not easy. If Elena’s patience would allow me, I’d often make two trips, once to fill my plate & the 2nd to fill hers but this strategy only worked some of the time so just as often I would fill 1 plate for both of us to eat off. This is the 1st all-you-can-eat vacation I’ve ever been on that I actually lost weight!!

The other challenge of the buffets…they were closed between 11am-12:30pm & 5pm-6:30pm…exactly when Elena would usually eat! Since she would wake up at 6am & play in the pool all morning, she was ready for lunch about 11-11:30 & nap by noon! And since she would be ready for sleep about 7-7:30pm, going to a buffet or a la carte restaurant at 6:30pm just didn’t work out so well!! I started stealing food from the buffets (very frowned upon) so we could eat in our room…I ordered room service once which made for a great night but I just couldn’t afford to do this every night.

Speaking of nights, they were a nightmare! We arrived Tuesday & had two peaceful nights. Then on Thursday the resort was invaded by a conference & the floor Elena & I were on was filled with 20-something partying idiots who were yelling, screaming, squealing, laughing, singing etc from 7pm until 5am with only brief respite while they were at dinner & the disco. This went on Friday, Saturday & Sunday nights!! Elena, once I got her to sleep every evening, thankfully slept thru the shenanigans. I did not have this luxury & remember Elena was up every morning at 6am!

Now I know what you’re going to say! Why didn’t I complain? Why didn’t I ask to be moved? Well, I didn’t ask to be moved because I knew the hotel was full due to the convention so nowhere to move me to. I didn’t complain because I was afraid. Afraid the drunkards would retaliate…I had visions of them jumping onto our balcony (very easily done since they were separated by low walls with vines & flowers) or banging thru the flimsy wooden door connecting our rooms. If I was without Elena, be sure I would have raised holy hell! But I’ve been at enough drunken debacles & witnessed them degenerate into careless violence that I was too afraid to take any chances that something could happen to Elena. Be sure I had my own passive aggressive revenge by encouraging Elena to laugh & squeal as loudly as she liked when she woke up at 6am until we left for breakfast at 8am!!

I was working on 2-3 hours sleep max a night!! I am ashamed to admit that it took its toll on me & I lost my patience with Elena more than once…it makes me feel just awful, especially since Elena really did the best she could under the circumstances of being in a new place with a new ever changing schedule, new foods, being hungry, tired & teething to boot!…It all got to me, the lack of sleep, the frustration with getting Elena fed, how hard it was to navigate the buffets alone with a toddler…It broke me…I felt defeated & demoralized & like a complete failure as a parent. Elena deserved better than I gave her.

On Sunday, after a particularly rough day, while waiting at the front desk to cancel our dinner reservations (I wasn’t going to brave another a la carte restaurant alone with a cranky toddler) we ran into a woman who’d been on our flight & whom we’d chatted with a few times thru the week. We exchanged pleasantries then she said to me, “You know, I’ve observed you & your daughter a lot this week. I need to tell you that you are such a good mother.” This woman must be an angel because those are words I needed to hear at that moment. I tried to hide them behind my sunglasses but my tears were obvious along with my shaking shoulders as I wept in front of this kind stranger & everyone in the lobby! It brings tears to my eyes even now when I remember the moment. Once I caught my breath & could speak all I could whisper was, “Thank you. It doesn’t always feel that way.”

It is that moment of kindness that encapsulates the trip for me…yes, there were challenges & yes, I am not proud of losing my temper with Elena more than once…but they really are small when compared with the joy & fun Elena & I shared together…her uninhibited laughter & pure sweet smile…after being home a week & having caught up on my sleep, it is our days in the pool, the squeals of delight at "pushing" me into the water, Elena's comical reaction to the ocean, dancing to the Mariachi Band, her excitement at walking up & down "The Big Stairs" & her jumping on that beloved trampoline that call to mind when asked, “How was your trip?”


  1. I'm glad all in all it was a great trip! I once heard a parent describe vacations as work when you have kids, and I think I'll remember this when we go to Hawaii - you can forget about sleep and luxurious food, I guess!

  2. Welcome home!! I think traveling with a small child is always hard, no matter where you go! It sounds like, despite the few set-backs, you both had a great time!! (And I am with you on teh screaming idiots, there isn't much the resort could have done anyway.)

  3. All in all, it sounds like a wonderful time with Elena!

  4. I've been waiting and waiting for this post. Definitely brought tears in my eyes. You are amazing just for braving a trip like this on your own with a toddler. Welcome home.

  5. I'm glad you made it down and back safe. I really like your pictures of Mexico - it looks so sunny! And it looks like Elena (and you) had a good time even if there were some bad spots. Welcome back!

  6. I'm so glad you started with all the positives of the trip, b/c otherwise I'd have thought it didn't turn out so well. I think it's great that you ventured out and made the trip with her at this age. I'm sure it's no easy task, especially after reading some of the things you had to deal with, but it sounds like the good far outweighed the bad! Hope you are settling back in to your normal routine at home, I bet it's good to be back.

  7. Glad to hear that all in all you both had a good time!


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