The Journey

We got back from the Oregon Coast last weekend and I still feel like I'm recovering. Traveling with a Toddler was my biggest "Mom Challenge" to date. This is Zachary's second trip to Cannon Beach but the last time we went he was less than a month old. We were strictly nursing, he slept A LOT, and he didn't need to be entertained every moment of his day.

This trip was quite a bit different.

Challenge #1: The drive. 
I had been having anxiety for months over the six-hour car ride as Zachary hates his car seat. He is still rear-facing which means he is stuck staring at the ceiling. I don't blame him for not wanting to be in the car for longer than 20 minutes. The car ride to and from Daycare is less than 10 minutes and he often screams the whole way. The one thing that's actually good about rear facing, is that if we put him in the car during nap time he'll usually sleep. Unfortunately, Zachary doesn't take 6 hour naps.

A few weeks ago Zachary had a really bad night. He screamed from 11:00pm until 2:30am when I finally put him in the car and drove him around until he slept. It was at this time that I came up with the idea to drive through the night to Oregon. So, that's exactly what we did. We decided that if we left at 3:00am we could get to Portland before Zachary would wake up. Nathaniel's best friend lives in Portland so we could stop and visit him, go out to breakfast, let Zachary burn some energy, and then during his first nap of the day (usually from 9:00-11:00)  we could make the rest of our trip. Praise God our plan went perfectly. Driving at that time of night was amazing - we were on cruise control the whole way, Zachary slept, and we didn't feel like we wasted an entire day traveling.

So we got to Cannon Beach right around 11:00 but we couldn't check in until 3:00. We shopped around town a bit, grabbed some (strong) coffee, and then spent the afternoon at the beach. The trip couldn't have gone better.

Challenge #2: Sharing a room.
How do you get a Toddler to sleep while you're sitting in the same room as him? He cried and cried and cried (our poor neighbors) until we would take him out of the pack-n-play. I had remembered to grab the baby monitor for this reason, so we sat outside our room until Zachary fell asleep and then we went back in and sat in pure silence for Zachary's nap. After one nap like this I decided we needed to figure something else out. Brilliant Mom Moment: I built him a fort. He couldn't see us and it shut out some of the light. Zachary loved it and slept great the rest of the trip.

Challenge #3: No bathtub. 
Our room only had a shower, which Zachary had never taken before. I was truly thankful that we had a hand-held shower head or this would have never worked. Zachary didn't like his "shower" at all but we survived. We put a washcloth over the drain and filled the bottom up to the one-inch ledge of the shower so there was a little pool of water. Other than that we just scrubbed and hosed. Not ideal but it worked.

Challenge #4: Eating out.
We made the decision a couple months ago that we will not be eating out as a family again for quite a while. Zachary can't sit still, he is a terrible eater, and it is miserable for us. Unfortunately, on vacation, you have no choice. Most of our meals were in a dining hall with a few hundred people. I was blessed to see that Zachary wasn't the only child screaming through mealtime. We ended up taking turns eating and playing outside with Zachary. I can't wait for the day that we can all sit down and have a meal together. Oh how joyous that day will be.

Challenge #5: Fighting the clock.
We realize that Zachary's schedule is probably the most important thing in our lives right now. Putting my child's needs before anything else has become crucial. We know that if Zachary doesn't nap on time, eat on time, poop on time, or play enough, that we will all be miserable. So as much as we'd like to keep up with the rest of our family and spend time with everyone that came all the way down there, we just had to let Zachary stay on track. I'm learning more and more how much my son is a Creature of Habit. His strong-willed personality demands routine. I am still adjusting to this as I'd love to be able to move at my own pace but I have learned that fighting with Zachary is a lose-lose. We really didn't get to spend very much time with family, but we were able to relax, enjoy a happy Zachary, and work through our traveling challenges being well-rested and fed.


As I continue on this journey of Motherhood I am realizing that it's not about my son, it's about Me. I am changing and I am growing. I am more patient, respectful, disciplined, rational, and creative. I am in tune to myself and my needs as they relate to caring for another human being. I am giving up the need for control in every situation.

Zachary had meltdowns on our trip. He threw tantrums and he didn't adjust to being constantly on-the-go very well. I got stressed, I got sad, and I got frustrated. I'm not perfect and I never will be. Some moms make it look easy. I just want to survive.

And we are. We are surviving one bump, molehill, hurdle, and mountain at a time. Definitely not gracefully, beautifully, or universally "right". But we are creating our own path and we are surviving it.

Last year, Zachary was at a stage where we could do everything with him pretty easily. We packed up and went wherever we wanted at (mostly) whatever time we needed to. This year we are at a stage where we can hardly do anything with Zachary. It's so dependent on his day, his mood, his schedule, and his needs.

I read an article last night that reminded me to say "Today is not forever" in every situation. I know that we will, again, get to a stage where we can do everything with Zachary. So when we're trying to have dinner and Zachary is screaming, trying to get out of his highchair, and throwing food everywhere, I can say: "Today is not forever".
But I also need to remember that when he is falling asleep on my lap, curled up like he just came out of the womb, and totally in need of my love and affection, I need to say: "Today is not forever."

He is changing as much as I am and it's all going by so fast. I want to capture every moment and hang on to it. I don't remember when Zachary changed from "newborn" to "baby" or when he changed from "baby" to "toddler". I'm going to wake up one day and he'll have changed from "toddler" to "boy". The journey of Motherhood is not just Zachary's journey though, it's mine.

This journey is changing me. 

This journey is challenging me. 

This journey is strengthening me. 

And I am surviving.


  1. I'm taking notes of this trip because we are planning an Oregon Coast trip next year. Good thinking leaving in the middle night! I'm glad you guys were able to enjoy your trip even if you couldn't deter much from the schedule. Happy baby=happy mommy!


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