We just returned from vacation. We being me, Alex, and The Kid. We left The Baby in the capable hands of grandparents because the thought of taking him and all of his machinery and his baby food and his diapers on a plane gives me hives. This was our first big vacation away from him since he’s been home. We needed it. We needed a break from the constant care-giving and we needed to spend some quality one-on-one time with The Kid.
So, Cozumel it is. Alex and I went there on our honeymoon and really enjoyed the snorkeling and the laid back atmosphere.
Below are some thoughts from our vacation, which are not strung together coherently in any way because The Kid came back and immediately got something that gave him a terribly high fever and made him take NAPS (which he never does willingly) so we’ve spent the day running around getting his various medicines and fetching him things that he is too tired to fetch himself.
We are not gullible people. We are wary and cynical but we got baited into doing a time-share presentation thing by one slick dude at the airport. In his pitch, he told us we could pay $90, get all these free tickets and things, try out a “members only” breakfast at the hotel and be on our way. What he neglected to mention (or he mentioned under his breath), was that we had to do a 90-minute sales pitch with a salesman.
So, when we went to collect our free things, they told us that we had to do the presentation. The hotel was all-inclusive and so all three meals were buffets where you could eat to the gills (pun intended). The Kid was quite literally in heaven. But, one of the selling points of upgrading to a “member” was being able to eat at one of the a la carte restaurants on the resort. So, our sales guy took us to our fancy breakfast, which took over an hour and we got subpar French toast. He then took us all around the hotel and showed us fancy rooms and said things like,
“Now, Alex and Elizabeth, which would be better? This fancy two bedroom suite or your garbage room that you’re staying in now? For the very same price…”
Throughout the 90-minute-pitch, we had to say over-and-over again just how unpredictable and unstable our life is right now with The Baby. We never really know what his health is going to be doing.
Every time we mentioned that, he said, “I totally understand that, but you’re vacationing now, right? And you know that it is better for your health for you to get away from the stress of caring for a special needs child. It’s GOOD for you to vacation!”
Which is technically true, of course. It would be nice to get away more often. But, we literally had to move mountains to go on this trip. And by move mountains, I mean that we left an 8-page instructional video and two “how-to” videos (no, I’m not joking) and I was still texting instructions on our way to the airport, fearful that we had forgotten one important detail and The Baby was going to be hospitalized while his parents were tromping around Mexico like a bunch of idiots.
I did not want to spend my vacation trying to prove to this salesman over and over that my life is in shambles most of the time and we couldn’t possibly drop $7700 (!!!) on future vacations that we may or may not be able to take, since I just had to quit my job so that I could stay home with the Baby precisely because we never know what his health is going to do. I know he didn’t mean to, but it felt like he was minimizing how difficult it was to do just this one trip. And he was such a nice salesperson and I didn’t want to disappoint him but by the time we got to the part where his boss came over to talk numbers with us, I was near tears and at their last stand, I leaned across the table and bellowed, “Our life is SO unpredictable!” one final time and then broke down weeping.
That embarrassed The Kid and ended the sales pitch pretty quickly so we got our free stuff and were on our way but it took a few hours for my stress from that encounter to dissipate. We’ve never done one of those things before and, after that one, I’m fairly certain that I will never do one again.
I am an expert snorkeler**. The Kid told us before we even left that he wouldn’t be in to snorkeling and we kept trying to convince him otherwise.
He was not into snorkeling. Something about the depth + the fish really unsettled him so Alex and I had to take turns snorkeling.
While I was doing my own snorkeling thing at the Chankanaab National Park, I realized why I enjoy snorkeling so much. It is the perfect activity for introverts and extroverts to do together. The Kid is an extreme extrovert (all people, all the time) and Alex and I are both introverts (outgoing introverts, but we need alone time to recharge our social batteries). Even though The Kid didn’t like doing the deep sea snorkeling thing, we did find a kid-sized lagoon that still had fish, so I “snorkeled” with him there and it went a little something like this:
The Kid (extrovert): Okay, Beth. Follow me and I’ll take you to where the fish are, okay? Come this way!
Beth (introvert): Okay! (puts head down in water and starts thinking: What am I going to do now that I’ve quit my job? I don’t even really know what I want to do. I’m 31 years old and I don’t know what my dream job would be. Isn’t that…)
The Kid: LOOK! LOOK! Did you see that cool fish? Oh man, it went this way. Maybe it has some friends this way or something. Let’s follow it!
Beth: Sure! Man, that was a cool fish. (puts head back down: I really need to listen to that Liturgists LGBTQ podcast again. It really challenged me. I want to find out more about the Enneagram too. When I get home, I’m going to look for some books so I can find out more about it. It sounds like the kind of introspective thing that I usually…)
The Kid: AH! There’s a fish right by your face. WATCH OUT!
And so on and so forth. Both of us were happy. As far as he was concerned, we were doing something together and I got to have my face down in the water where I could mostly think my thoughts, with a few interjections here and there.
So, if you see pictures of us snorkeling around a pool mid-December, you’ll know it’s because mama needs a break and this is the only way I could get it.
**Expert is defined as follows: one who swallows a giant mouthful of seawater, vomits unexpectedly into their snorkel while coughing it up, and then swims away quickly because she knows the fish are going to be interested in what just came out of her. Also, one who tries to snorkel with her regular swim goggles because her other ones leak and ends up with ear canals full of salt water.
Hands down, the best things that we did was a submarine tour. It sounds so random- who thinks that they’re ever going to be on a submarine even once in their life? It was really awesome. The sub took us out over where the continental shelf drops off into the abyss and it was quite intimidating to look down there and think about how deep the water goes and how far the ocean reaches.
We are not really beach people. That might surprise you, what with my freckles and see-through skin. I mean, I like the beach when I’m swimming, but it’s the before and after part that I don’t really dig.
Even beyond the threat of sunburn (the swimshirt worked wonders, btw- the only thing that got even tan on me was the tops of my hands because I forgot to put sunscreen on them one day), I do not like all of the accoutrements that come with swimming- the towels, the goggles, the flippers, the snorkels, the sunscreen, the waterbottles. It’s like you lug your entire home out to the beach, dump it on the ground where sand will be embedded in all your things for the next 100 years, and then you shclep it all back at the end of the day when you’re completely exhausted.
And the sand. Oh goodness. The sand. Most of the beaches on Cozumel are snorkel-friendly, with small waves, because they’re on the side of the island that faces inland. The Kid really wanted to boogie-board so we drove down to an undeveloped beach on the southern tip of the island that had crazy waves. Waves so crazy that my attempt at boogie boarding ended with me being pushed so forcefully up onto the beach that I got a sand burn on the tops of my thighs. After that, Alex and I sat on the sand right where the waves would end and we watched The Kid get tossed around by the water. When we stood up, we had gobs of sand falling out of our bathing suit bottoms after being forced up there by the force of the waves. It took all of us several showers to feel like the sand was mostly gone from our nether regions, although I bet that we’ll still have some surprises in the coming weeks.
I haven’t quite figured out where The Kid’s vacation jam is yet, but Alex and I are likely mountain people- with hiking and napping and watching the sunset on the porch. Don’t be looking for us to buy a beach house (OR A TIMESHARE) anytime soon, people.
I found it funny that lots of people- hotel staff, shopkeepers, snorkel rental guys- called me “lady”. Like, “You want more towels, lady? Yes, lady. They’ll come soon, lady.” I wish I could call people that.
“Lady, did you apply my coupons to that Joann’s purchase?”
“Where’s the nearest restroom, lady?”
“It’s time for this papsmear, lady.”
It just makes life a little more fun. Maybe I’ll start doing it. #BeachLife2017
One of the good things to come out of that terrible timeshare sales experience was that we got to rent a jeep for a day. It was an old sucker with no radio that rattled and had almost no shocks, but man, it was fun to ride around and feel the wind in your hair.
On our last day, I dropped Alex and The Kid off at the hotel and then drove the beach to the other side of the island by myself. It was awesome. I sang at the top of my lungs, let my hair go crazy, listened to Bieber’s Despacito on repeat, stopped to take pictures of the crazy waves.
It made me miss my scooter, which I gave to my father because the last time I drove it, the rearview mirror fell off while I was scooting down a big road and it gave me quite a fright.
I have children. I need to live and not be killed in a freak scooter-mirror-accident.
We don’t have cable or any way to watch network television but we did manage to catch a few episodes of Shark Tank in the hotel room. The Kid is obsessed with it now. I find that hilarious.
This trip made me grateful for alot of things.
Grateful for my parents and Alex’s parents who have been so supportive of us on our parenting journey.
Grateful that we have the means to go on trips like this and expose our kids to other places.
Grateful that I have a kid who is stable and secure and knows that he wants to be an ornithologist when he grows up, so he lugged his bird book around the whole island and screamed when he spotted the Cozumel-exclusive hummingbird.
Grateful that I have a husband who has a servant’s heart. Grateful that God created beautiful places like Cozumel for us to enjoy.
Grateful for my Spanish abilities and that I can connect with people who are completely different than me because I speak their language.
Grateful for the loveable sack of potatoes that we got to come home to who, may not have exactly realized that we were gone, but seems to be happy that we’re here now
All in all, a great trip, but we’re glad to be home.