We're just back from a whirlwind trip to Charlottesville for C's triplets' first birthday, with overnight visits in DC and Philadelphia on either end. The "we" in this case is me and Ben, no Andy, and solo-parent road-tripping was surprisingly easy. And by "easy," of course I mean "I didn't even cry once."
The thing that makes it doable is that the kid will sleep in his travel crib in strange places. For a while, that was not the case, and every trip out of town meant each night stacked up the sleeplessness. Now that he sleeps -- and I sleep -- all things are possible.
Another thing that makes it doable is understanding and helpful friends who don't roll their eyes at our arrival with armloads of gear and crap, who make room and help carry and let their schedules work around us a little. You expect it to some degree from other people with babies (or whose kids were babies in recent memory), but it's a wonderful gift from the unbabied.
What makes it fun is that he's a pretty gregarious and outgoing little dude. He genuinely enjoys interacting with people, making faces and getting reactions, so that he's both happy and the source of happiness in others. Rest stops on the Jersey Turnpike, for instance, are not generally a highlight of anybody's travel, but when you walk in hand-in-hand with a grinning toddler who likes to wave his fat little arm at everybody, it can be something of a treat.
I wish I were one of those people who could travel with a toddler and one overnight bag, but I'm just not, and I've made my peace with it.
- clothing and bathroom stuff bag
- diaper bag
- bag of toys
- bag of food, snacks, sippies, plates, and bibs*
- heavy-as-hell bag of travel crib
- Ikea plastic-canvas bag of booster seat and tray
- bag of dvd player and dvds
And, sure, I could consolidate some of those bags, but what does it get me to put the toys in the food bag except hassle when I want to carry one and not the other? As it is, I had to shuffle a bunch of stuff to take just the minimal food and diaper gear when we took public transportation into Center City for dinner, since I wasn't about to lug the kid, the stroller, my handbag, and two other large bags up and down subway stairs.
Anyway. Doing this stuff on my own is mostly fine. I'm just organized enough, and just patient enough (though the experimental, let's-push-Mom's-buttons-'cause-I'm-bored shrieking on the Beltway did make me lose my mind briefly), and I like driving, and I like my kid. But it does give me profound respect for single parents of tiny people. Other people can give you help and respite, but not like a co-parent can. I had a wonderful time (and so did Ben), but it sure is nice to be back here where I don't have to change all the diapers.
* I realized after posting that actually I had another food bag, too: a cooler bag with fridge stuff in it. I also had a bag of knitting, but I can hardly blame that on Ben.