Can paradise ever be paradise when you have a toddler?
We’re in Grand Cayman, the weather is amazing, just hot enough with a cooling breeze.
Flowers are in bloom, roosters crow with delight. We’re away from the crowds as we visit a lovely lady who was my mom’s roommate back in the 60s, her maid of honour, and, all these years later, is still one of her closest friends.
I’m loving it. Truly. But I’m also exhausted.
The beach is a five minute drive away, and it’s gorgeous. Paradise. But with the one exception of about ten minutes where my mom distracted Little Miss and I actually got to swim with a school of iridescent blue and black fish, I’ve had my own little barnacle baby.
My mom said it’s okay, let her yell a bit, she’s fine, but I don’t want Little Miss ruining everyone else’s peace. So I keep my little barnacle close, delighting in her delight at the sun and the waves and the sand, but certainly not relaxing or exploring, which I previously believed were the two main things beaches were made for.
Back at my mom’s friend’s house, relaxing is even more elusive. The nights are no better here than at home sleep-wise. Potentially worse, since me and babe are sharing a room again.
And today Little Miss was a trial.
She screamed whenever not in my arms or if I dared to step away from her.
But none of that matters, because when I gave in and decided to keep her close – my little barnacle baby – it was amazing.
After walking her around town for an hour and 20 minutes in 30 degree weather, even after being awake 9 hours, Little Miss still wouldn’t sleep.
So when we got home, sweaty and exhausted, I decided the best course of action was to strip down to our skivvies and lie on the bed, enjoying the fan.
Obviously, that led to nursing, and nursing led to a memory I’ll have till my dying day.
We were both lying down, a position we usually only use in the middle of the night on rare occasions when I can’t get Little Miss back to sleep and am too utterly exhausted to sit in her room. So on this day, with the sunlight streaming in, we gazed into each other’s eyes.
After several swallows, she pulled her face away, said ‘Yumm!’ gave me a big ol’ grin, then latched back on.
That may not sound like a big deal, but you’d have to know the backstory. In brief, breastfeeding for us was not easy. It was one of the most time-consuming, painful things I’ve ever done. For the first five months or so it was normal to spend 13-16 hours a day on the task. Much of it with a lactation aid – not fun.
And so after all the months of trials and pain and research and doctors visits to keep this little girl nursing and make sure she was gaining enough weight in the process, for us to just relax into it like that, both happy and at ease?
It was the sweetest sounding yumm I’ve ever heard.
It was almost as good as the time a few months back when she unlatched, gave me an admiring look, clapped, then latched back on.
When Little Miss finished her snack, we enjoyed some tickles and giggles.
Not ready to leave the bliss of the fan, I even loaded her favourite show on my phone and watched it with her, something I’ve never really done as screen time is typically reserved for those rare occasions when I absolutely need a few minutes of baby-free time, such as transferring a pot of boiling water from the stove to the sink or when in desperate need of a shower.
I barely watched the show though, instead I watched my girl, excitement beaming from her face that I was watching with her, that she was getting the chance to share this wonder. Every time the title for a new song came on she smiled and bounced and looked back at me, like, ‘Oh Mom, you’re going to love this one!’
My daughter didn’t sleep that day.
The whole trip sleep was pretty elusive to be honest. And for the most part, this vacation in paradise was far from relaxing. But it was wonderful.
So many moments, just me and my babe – seeing her grow, seeing her discover, seeing her thrive.
Her language, reasoning, and problem solving skills exploded, and I witnessed it all without the stress of what to make for dinner each night!
Not your typical Caribbean vacation. But would I trade it for hours to lie in the sun or explore under the waves?
Not a chance.
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