Going to Great Wolf Lodge – aka The Scream!
Crack out of the ol’ tired caretaker mom – have fun with your darlings!
We decided, last minute, to go to Great Wolf Lodge. It’s a kid-friendly resort with a gigantic indoor water park.
(Or as my witty mom friend calls it: The Scream. Aka 10,000 kids yelling, water roaring, and it’s all trapped indoors, echoing and bouncing off the enclosed walls).
Each day before our trip, we reminded the kids of our upcoming vacation. We popped open my laptop to let them see the different water slides online, excitedly explained to two-year-old Esther that she would sleep in a new bed at “The Wolf Hotel”, and quizzed Samson on HOW MANY MORE DAYS.
Finally, Dave and I gasped, “GUYS! GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS?!?!? GUESS WHERE WE ARE GOING TODAY?!?!?!” They exploded in squeals and giggles of delight. Esther started chanting, “WUFF HOTEW! WUFF HOTEW!”
(Real parenthood: Dave and I stopped for drive-through coffee on the way so we would have energy for a 24-hour indoor waterpark – LOL!)
We snaked our SWEET Grey minivan into a parking spot next to five-million other minivans. The kids’ eyes ballooned when they saw the waterpark, while Dave and I downed the rest of our coffee.
We popped open the door to our very normal hotel room. Samson and Esther bolted in front of us to explore. And these are the moments that make parenting the little years so delicious. “MOM! WOOK!” yelled Samson at the top of his lungs. “IT HAS A BATHROOM!!!” I dropped the heavy suitcases down and gasped, “WHAT?!?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?” Samson, delighted, “YEAH! AAAAND MOM! There’s even a SHOWER!!!!” Me: “WHAT?!?!? That’s AWESOME!!!” (Suddenly all the mom stress/effort for a family vacation was 110% worth it.)
We pulled open “the magic bed” – the pull-out couch. But at the end of the day, it was Esther’s turn to try the magic bed, and Samson slipped under the white comforter of one of the queen beds. After we turned out the light, Samson peeped in the darkness, “Mom, I so excited.” Me whispering back, “why?” Samson: “Because ‘dis is ‘da first time I swept in a hotel bed all by myself.”
The kids dominated the colossal breakfast buffet. They tried everything, but especially enjoyed “forbidden sugar cereal”, like Fruity Pebbles and drinking hot cocoa AND chocolate milk.
(That’s one thing I love about Dave’s family: When the Spina’s vacation, THE SPINA’S VACATION. You sleep in, you buy presents, and you always eat sugar. Because, c’mon, you are on VACATION.)
But my favorite part of the trip? Going down all the big water slides with my Samboy.
Samson is five-years-old. He has stark white hair, blue eyes and he loves to laugh. But he’s also been a highly active, strong-willed boy since birth. Lately, I feel I’ve sometimes been more frustrated with him than before because: a) he often requires more parenting than his siblings because he’s strong-willed b) Samson’s normal “big boy” energy is harder to swallow, when I’m trying to simultaneously care for a baby and a toddler. In short, there has been a lot of, “Please STOP, Samson!” and “Please settle down, Samson!” since the baby has arrived.
This is why it’s so important for us moms to make fun memories with our kids. We get in this tired, overwhelmed caretaking mode. We even start to view our little darlings – our gifts from God – as irritating and annoying. But fun memories are a game changer. Not only do we have a great time, but we return to the daily duties of motherhood with fresh laughs and happy memories to carry us through the stressful moments.
After changing into our swim suits faster than a hiccup, we entered the roaring waterpark. After we did some family swimming, I asked David to take Esther to the little kid area. Then I turned to my five-year-old son literally shaking from excitement. “Samboy!” I shouted over the noise. “Wanna ride some BIG SLIDES with me?!?!”
He face lit up like a Christmas tree, and he smiled up at me in his sopping Batman swim shorts. “Yeah!”
We purposely booked our stay during a weekday school-in-session time to avoid lines. So we had the slides to ourselves: a thirty-something mom in a red swimsuit with a six-months-post-baby body lugging a big yellow figure-eight intertube up 50,000 WET WOODEN STEPS with a laughing tow-headed sopping-wet boy in tow. Over and over we went. My legs and knees were hurting, but I couldn’t stop. All those mean, tired phrases I have said to Samson in frustration over the past six months since Hannah arrived just disappeared with each new slide.
STOP AND SMELL: I think it is SO IMPORTANT for us moms, right in the midst of the busy little years, to find moments to ENJOY our children. We need to break out of that cranky, overtired mom mindset and savor the gift of parenthood. So many women would love to be moms, but can’t. So many other moms would love to be able to stay at home with their children instead of work, but they can’t. Don’t just endure the young years, enjoy them!
Two-year-old Esther talks to her baby sister Hannah ALLDAYLONG. Sooooo cute. ? Mama, maybe you are overwhelmed with a baby and a toddler. Giiiirl, it is a lot of work! BUT listen to this for perspective: when I complained to my dad about how much work it was with a baby and a toddler, he reminded me that it’s a few short years of hard work, but then you have a lifetime of close-in-age friends. Siblings are often the longest friendship a person will enjoy in their lifetime. They will likely know their sibling longer than any friend, spouse or parent. It may be hard now, but remember what you were doing. You are gifting a lifelong friendship – my grandmother and her sister enjoyed a friendship of over 80 years. Maybe my Hannah and my Esther will do the same. Keep up the work, Mama. You are creating a lifetime friendship. Xo ???? #sisters