Spring is always so busy for us, and this year has been no exception. Between trips across the country to visit family and birthday parties and holidays, it seems like there is something planned every weekend. Add to that me being on call every six weekends or so, and there just isn't much time left. I try to plan just one big thing every weekend so that we aren't totally frazzled. This weekend I made an exception, and I am really glad I did.
As I mentioned in my last post, we have all been crazy busy. Crockett has been stressed with work piling up, and he expressed a need for some time this weekend. We had plans on Saturday to spend the evening with some close friends to celebrate the impending arrival of a new baby boy, and normally this would mean an unscheduled Sunday. But because I knew Crockett needed quiet time, I decided that Asher and I would have the first "Mommy-Ashie Adventure Day" in a while and go to Gilroy Gardens, a toddler-oriented amusement park about an hour from our house. We had heard great things about it and had bought a season pass sight-unseen when they went on sale at Costco, so I was anxious to go. I had doubts this morning when Asher woke at 6:20 after a restless night, but I decided to throw caution to the wind, and at 9:30, we were off.
My grand plan involved a nap in the car on the way there, and that didn't happen until 5 minutes before we reached the parking lot, so I was pretty sure we were screwed. I was going to just wait it out, but it was 10:30 and sunny and getting rather hot, so I took a reckless course once again and decided that if Asher needed to sleep, he could do it in the stroller. Come Hell or high water, we were going to do this thing. Of course, he woke up immediately, and we were off. First stop, the carousel for rides on several different horses. Next, a ride on a swinging strawberry. All were enjoyed with an ear-to-ear smile throughout. Pizza lunch up next, and then the train, more rides, a run under the waterfall, a hot dog, another trip the carousel before we left. Smiles and laughs all around. The best day ever.
The funny thing is that if you dissect the day, you probably wouldn't understand how it was perfect in any way. I forgot to put a pull-up on Asher before we got in the car, and, for the first time in ages, he had an accident during his short nap on our way there. There were brooms and dustpans in every bathroom, which he always wanted to play with, and there was a small amount of screaming when I led him away every time. Lunch took half an hour to eat, most of which was spent spacing out and counting trash cans. He was trying to be so naughty while in line for the train, and yet, there was just enough going on to distract him into submission. I almost had a panic attack on the ferris wheel (not a fan of heights), and then Asher tried to take a nap on the seat as the attendant came to let us out of our cabin. The hot dog request came completely out of the blue, less than two hours after lunch, and was revealed on a whim as we were passing by a restaurant that does not serve hot dogs; I had to walk nearly the entire park to find the damn hot dog--there is only one restaurant that serves them--but we got it, and life was good. Last, but not least, on the final carousel ride, I was told to "LEAVE!!!" by this increasingly independent child (unfortunately for him, he isn't tall enough to ride alone). Such love. And then I had to fight a little to get off the carousel; he wanted to try a horse in every color. During the five minutes it took at the end of the day to convert our Costco voucher into a real season pass, the few remaining bits of hot dog went flying, a protest for taking away the fun. On our way out of the parking lot, a pitiful, exhausted utterance, "Back in....Back in...."
That's the most amazing part of living these experiences: there is nothing particularly wonderful about any of it, and yet it is all wonderful. There is some sort of magic chemistry that makes it perfect. How often do you spend eight hours with a two-year-old and not get frustrated? Almost never. This was one of those rare days.
But I know life is short and childhood even shorter. His yearning for independence is a blatant reminder. I feel a need to commemorate it all. I'm usually the one behind the camera, trying to preserve the memory. I tried to capture the moments, the smiles, the laughs. However, unlike most outings, on this one, I had no back-up, and my only camera was my phone. I became more aware of how I usually miss the full experience of the moment by trying to preserve it somehow. In the process of accepting my limitations, I became more whole. Contrary to what I expected at the start of the day, by not being able to record it audio-visually, our outing became better recorded emotionally. I was more there, and because of that, I will never forget it.
It was the perfect day with the perfect iPhone self-portrait to prove it.