I’ve had a little time to recover from our New Mexican adventure, and to nurse the cold I brought home from the mountains, and I can say with confidence that the trip was a big success.
It seems like Jackson and I suddenly have a connection we haven’t had for a while. We have inside jokes and intimate understandings that exclude his brother, which I think makes him feel more secure. Before the trip, Jackson would have a mini-meltdown each morning at school when his brother didn’t stay, but the past two mornings (his brother is too sick for school) he has put on a brave face and walked right into his classroom. I hope he feels more connected to me, and knows he isn’t being punished by being sent to school instead of staying home with me. Or he’s sick of me. Whatever.
I have been feeling like he just doesn’t like me that much, and that’s OK from time to time as I attempt to enforce rules and schedules to the best of my ability. He says I’m not his friend, but I’m his Mommy and my job is protect him and help him grow into a functioning member of society, so it sucks that we aren’t making friendship bracelets, but
I have a job to do. This has been the status quo since before Archer was born, when I spent five months heaving into blue plastic barf bags, one month feeling pretty alright, and the last months feeling horribly uncomfortable and pukey again. I didn’t have time for crafts and unplanned excursions, I had a list of things that needed to be done and not an ounce of energy for anything extra. For this same reason I am not the kids’ first choice for bath monitor or walks around the block. Mommy is all business, once you’re clean you’re clean let’s get out and go to bed, or once around the block in a timely fashion is what he have time for and stop picking up rocks our whole yard is rocks hurry up I have to make dinner let’s go.
I purposely didn’t plan anything for our weekend away because I had no idea how my son would react and I didn’t want to be stressed and pass that anxiety onto him. Jackson has never been in temperatures this low, so I didn’t initially buy a bunch of gear for him to wear in the snow because I was afraid he would say “no fanks” and want to stay inside watching YouTube all day. As it turned out, I couldn’t get him out of the snow and we went through four pairs of snow-soaked pants before I decided we should see what the store in town had to offer. He was having the time of his life rolling around and shoveling and tossing snow, interspersed with the sudden realization that he was absolutely freezing because his sweats and socks were soaked through. So we’d rush in and strip off the sopping clothes and I’d suggest he curl up under the blankets in front of the heater and rest and we’d go out later, but he instead wanted a new pair of pants and to head back out.
And so, we went to town and found a snow bib and some clearance snow boots (hooray for the end of the season!) that were a tad too big so that we might be able to come back next year. We had a late lunch in the same place we had breakfast and headed back to our cabin to change for more outdoor fun. When we returned, however, there was a giant truck in the spot I had spent three hours shoveling so I could gingerly wiggle the car out and drive the two blocks to town so Jack wasn’t soaked on arrival. The truck was performing an elaborate extrication of our neighbor’s smaller truck, so we decided to make some laps until they could get themselves sorted. About 30 seconds later, Jackson fell asleep in the backseat. He was exhausted from staying up late the night before, tromping around in knee-deep snow, walking to town and back, shoveling, brushing snow off the car with a broom, and had a hearty lunch in his belly. I took a wrong turn, as is my way, and we drove around for a while so he could sleep. The weather picked up and I headed home and sat in front of the cabin so he could rest. By the time he woke up it started getting dark and the wind chill was at 6*F, so I convinced him we were finished for the day.
Jack was great at rolling with the punches (not something three year olds are known for) and was excited to eat granola bars for dinner instead of heading back out in the snowy darkness. He really wanted to help me cook dinner, but I explained that we didn’t have that kind of food, and I was so touched that he wanted to spend his evening cooking in the kitchen with me. We watched cartoons and played with the little fishing game he picked out, and went to bed.
The next morning I was torn between wanting to get the most out of our last day, and not
wanting to play in the snow with a wind chill of 2*F. I stalled as long as I could, and then we suited up and played in the backyard. The snow was pretty dry for a snowman, but Jackson had a great time with his snowball maker and demanded we pull off every icicle on the cabin and our neighbors’ so he could play with them. The day before he cried every time he dropped an icicle and broke it, but we were making progress and starting to understand that icicles were not permanent and things happen. When we were tired from the snow, we changed clothes, packed the car, and headed home.
Jackson was sad to go, but so tired from all the excitement and deep snow. As we drove down the mountain, he was replaying the weekend in his head and checking in with me. “Hey Mommy, remember when the car got stuck? Haha! And remember when it snowed? Remember when we walked all around? I like to shovel snow…” before drifting off for the majority of our ride back to El Paso. He asked if we could live in Cloudcroft forever, and I promised him we would play in snow again someday. It’s a couple days later and he is still sharing his sage wisdom from our vacation together, my favorite being “you know Archie, sometimes icicles break in Cloudcroft”. I wish we had another day together since he didn’t have the right gear until halfway through, but maybe we will go again next year and give sledding a try. For now I’ll just try not to leave Vacation Mommy locked up until our next adventure.