Monday, November 16, 2009

I Was a Human Mule: Champaign 1994

I wasn't a mule like a drug-runner mule, what I'm remembering was when my kids were babies/toddlers. What I'm thinking of was when whenever we traveled somewhere--on vacation or weekend trips or what-have-you--we had to take a multitude of baby/toddler
accoutrements with us and I'd have to lug them into the car, out of the car, back into the car and back into the house.
In particular I'm thinking of one family reunion (Fru's family) in Wisconsin where I became acutely aware of how things had changed with babydom.
Every year, Fru's extended family has a reunion in the midwest on the weekend of Father's Day, in June. It's from her mother's side of the family and someone plans it and they all get together for food and conversation, swimming and golf and poker. It's a great time and I'm glad to have become part of it. And it's almost always in the midwest because that's where almost all of them live: Wisconsin and Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota, Indiana and such. So it'll often be in these small to smallish towns which I enjoy visiting.
So, this year it was in Wisconsin, in Oconomowoc, at this very nice resort and we had a room on the second floor. So, we check in and get to our room and Fru needs to stay with the girls, maybe take them to the hospitality room to see all the relatives, and I need to go back down to the car to start hauling up our luggage. But the thing is, it's not just simply luggage. Yes, I go down the stairs and out into the heat and unlock the car and lift the trunk and pull out the suitcases and toiletries bag and lock the car and go up the stairs and take them down the hall and unlock the room door and take them into the room, but then I go back--repeating all the unlocking and locking--and take out the bag of toys and the bag of extra pillows and more luggage, and then there's the trip with the diaper bag and the bag of extra kid's clothes and then there's the stroller and there's the playpen and maybe the bed rail we brought just in case and the car seats maybe or the "bouncy chair" and maybe a high chair to feed them in--who knows what the heck we brought. I just recall going up and down and locking and unlocking, carrying big and heavy and unwieldy tons of luggage to the room. It was then I realized I was a human mule and would be one for quite a few years.
Ah. All that stuff. From cans of formula (the girls did not nurse--a long story there) to more and larger toys, over the years I got used to the routine. It was like a caravan where I was the only pack animal, a safari where I was the only porter, an ascent of Mt. Everest with me--yes, me--as the only sherpa. Hmm. But, it wasn't so terrible either. But all that stuff we'd have to have to go anywhere--from "spit-up rags" to extra diapers and diaper rash creams and . . . Oh I can't even remember it all. But then it does come to an end, doesn't it?
Eventually the little babies sit and talk and then walk and feed themselves. Eventually they can be alone in a room while you take a shower, alone at the house while you go shopping, they can run around a hotel or park with an older cousin or with friends, can sleep over at a house, take a weekend trip with a trusted family. Eventually they can go out the door and just tell you where they are going. They can go out the door and not tell you. They can, eventually, go out that door and not ever come back--figuratively at least (and you don't even want to think of it literally).
So, those early years with kids are so shocking and enveloping, they seem long and intense, but then they're gone.
Those years go away and are part of the past and you wonder how in the world it could happen so fast.

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