My family recently returned from a weeklong getaway to Cayo Coco, Cuba.
Now I need a real vacation.
Have you tried travelling with a toddler? If you answered yes, I needn’t say more; however, if you’ve never had this experience, I will tell you this—if you’re after rest and relaxation, you won't get any.
For seven days we chased around our Energizer Bunny of a child, and then every night we crept quietly around our room at 8 p.m. (his bedtime) fearing that any sudden noise—big or small—would wake the beast.
Still, even in our high-alert state of making sure he didn’t wipe out on the massive amounts of coral dotting the beach, fall face down in the ocean, or run full speed into the wait staff carrying trays of fruity drinks, we had fun.
Overnight I feel like I’ve turned 103, however. Vacationing with our beloved offspring is only part of the reason for this.
Back up a bit to an image of me getting ready for Christmas.
I’d gone shopping for two monster holiday meals we were to be hosting, and stuffed everything in the fridge. Sometime during the night, I woke up to a loud beeping noise (our son’s monitor) and a full-body chill.
Yes, our adventure begins with a three-and-a-half day power loss following a massive ice storm that left thousands in the dark.
Our home was freezing. We stayed in it the next night and blasted through candles, and strategically placed flashlights around the house. We went to the mall to keep warm. Note: I despise malls.
I wore my long underwear (usually reserved for snowboarding), beneath flannel pajamas, a fleece jacket, and two pairs of socks, and hovered under a duvet and Hudson’s Bay wool Point blanket.
The next night, our kind friends offered to put us up in their home.
We packed up some food, clothes, baby essentials, the dog and all her gear, and hit the road.
The child refused to sleep in the unfamiliar crib offered to him (read: he screamed like he was on fire in a crib lined with glass shards), so my husband slept on the couch and I brought our son in bed with me, where I got kicked in the face (by accident, I think) and randomly punched as he did 180-degree moves across the mattress. At one point he’d pushed me so close to the edge, I had to grip onto the side of the mattress so I wouldn’t fall off.
The next night we hauled our gear to another friend’s home and crashed there. They were away for the night and, luckily, our boy slept wonderfully in their son’s crib.
We cancelled Christmas Eve dinner at our place and packed up all our presents and drove to my brother’s place. He managed to cook a magnificent last-minute feast.
Then, still without power, we cancelled our Christmas Day dinner. Our power eventually returned in the afternoon and we lugged our baby, food, dog, and the gifts we had received home.
That night, we were exhausted. We couldn’t find anywhere delivering food on Christmas Day other than a halal pizza joint. We ate halal pizza and went to bed, deliriously happy to be back in our own beds.
Then we had a wedding to prepare for. Our wedding.
I didn’t have a dress and shoes, we hadn't picked up our rings yet, and we didn’t have our marriage license. We were having the reception at our place and we didn’t have booze and food. We didn’t have cutlery, plates, and napkins, or any decorations. We ran around trying to get everything done. We succeeded.
Our wedding day arrived. We got hitched and it went off without a hitch. We had a ball spending time with loved ones, and eating and drinking late into the night, which was probably a really bad mistake, as we had to wake up at 4 a.m to catch a flight.
We were running late. Arrived at the airport and were told the gate was closed. If I hadn’t been so bone tired, I would’ve dropped to the floor and started sobbing.
The flight crew let us on.
We had a seamless journey. The baby slept. We landed and were greeted with a pure kiss of sunshine.
Our son napped beautifully in the crib during the day, but at night he woke up at 3 a.m. shrieking like an alley cat and I’d bring him in the bed where, once again, I’d get treated to spastic feet in the face and knuckle sandwiches.
A week of playing in the water and sand later, another huge storm hit Toronto. We woke up early to catch our flight only to learn it was delayed.
We had suspected it would be—or that we wouldn’t get a flight out at all—but we were among the luckier ones. If you’re going to be stuck somewhere, it might as well be on a resort in Cuba. Later that night, we were finally on a flight back to Toronto. It was one in the morning when we walked through our door. Oh, what a memorable way to spend my birthday. Did I mention it was my birthday?
Anyway, I was so tired, my fingernails hurt. Maybe now we could relax, get some rest.
And we did. That first night was like sleeping on a marshmallow cloud. I was Sleeping Beauty and would sleep for 100 years. Or I would have, if I didn't get struck with food poisoning first.
The true irony being that it didn’t come from Cuba, but right here at home.
Ah, home sweet home.
There’s no place quite like it, now is there?