Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Through The Eyes Of My Girls

Deep in the misery of winter (also known as the middle of February), I decided to couldn't handle it anymore.  I was sick of the cold and gloom, and I needed an escape or at least the promise of an escape.  Weeklong tropical getaways were not in the cards, but I thought that a short weekend trip to a somewhat nearby destination would be enough to get me out of the funk of an Illinois winter.  So, with the support of The General, I began planning a trip to St. Louis for the last weekend of spring break.

Met with eager anticipation by one and moderate disinterest from another, I began researching places to visit on the girls' first trip to The Lou.  A ride to the top of the Arch was a must of course, and it quickly became obvious that a visit to the City Museum was also necessary.  Anyone who knows me well knows that the planning of a trip is almost as much fun for me as the actual trip itself.  I love to research local attractions, scour websites for restaurant reviews, and take time to carefully pour over all the hotel choices before deciding on the perfect place to lay our heads at the end of our fun filled days.  While this personality trait is something that makes me a desirable travel partner for many of my friends (I'm basically the mom of the group and have learned that a core group of my friends are basically unable to function without my many lists and spreadsheets), there's one significant downside to this planning and preparation:  it can often lead to major disappointment and frustration when things don't go exactly as I've planned them in my mind.

Things started to unravel the day before we were set to leave.  Some lingering congestion and a cough that seemed to be intensifying led to a prompt care visit for Elaina which then led to a nasal swab resulting in a positive result for Influenza B.  The doctor said as long as she remained fever free and didn't have any unpleasant digestive issues in the 24 hours before we left she was safe to go.  Flu Watch: Spring Break Edition went into full effect, and Elaina was checking her temperature on the hour.  When, at 7 pm, the reading presented a normal temp, Elaina ran into my bedroom brandishing the thermometer as proof and shouted, "Start packing!".  I told her we'd make a final decision sometime Friday afternoon just to be safe.

By Friday at noon she was puke, fever, and diarrhea free so I made the executive decision to forge ahead with our plans.  We left around 5 pm after The General returned home from work, suffered through a near blinding gradual sunset through four counties, waited and ate then waited some more at the world's slowest Steak & Shake in Lincoln, then finally hit the road again well after that menacing ball of flame and fury had disappeared for the night.  Just after 9:30 pm despite some sketchy Google Map directions we finally pulled up to the front of our hotel.

I had made reservations weeks ago and received confirmation that a standard room with two queen beds would be ready for us at check-in.  Such was not the case.  Apparently the Drury Plaza has a policy of overbooking rooms.  Better to have people without rooms than rooms without people is their business motto, I guess.  The front desk receptionist was lovely, apologetic, and very accommodating and got us booked into two comped rooms with one king sized bed each with the promise of a complimentary upgrade to a suite the following night.  Still, that didn't damper my annoyance.  Did I picture the four of us split between rooms, even if those rooms were next door to each other?  No, I did not, and this caused me great frustration.

The following morning we headed down for the complimentary breakfast.  It was packed; there were no tables accommodating four people, and so The General and I stood while eating lukewarm pancakes sans syrup with our hands while trying to stay out of the way of all the other patrons.  Fast forward a couple of hours and we were all packed up again ready to move our belongings to our new room.  The manager personally met us at our suite but breezed out of the room before we realized that the bedroom was equipped with only one bed.  By the time we got back to the lobby I was discouraged to the point of anger simmering just below the surface.  We were promised that by the time we got back from our day's activities all of our bags would be moved into proper accommodations with their sincerest apologies for the mistake.

None of this was how I had envisioned this trip, and it was making me very upset.  Then, with the innocence only a child possesses, I heard the girls talking about how this was the nicest hotel they had ever been in.  It's so fancy. The fountains are so cool.  The pool and hot tub were so fun.  I love it here.

Those tiny remarks were exactly the reality check I needed to break me out of my funk.

Food taking forever to arrive was a non-issue because in the end we all walked out with chocolate shakes.  They weren't going to let an almost impossible to navigate parking garage bring them down.  Not having the room that was originally planned just meant a little one-to-one snuggle time with one parent in a giant bed.  The faint smell of a baby's diaper in one room wasn't a big deal because we were leaving the room again to go for a late night walk to the Arch.  The scrambled eggs were barely cooked but that didn't matter because breakfast was free and some of their other favorite foods were available in bulk.  Repacking and carry our bags AGAIN wasn't a big deal because it meant we got an even bigger room with an extra TV AND we got to watch Elaina fall backwards out of an elevator which was pretty hysterical.  The lines to go to the top of the Arch were long and the crowd at the City Museum was initially a little overwhelming, but who can focus on that when there's all that giggling in the tram ride to the top and countless mazes and incredible architecture to explore?

One of my favorite bloggers took a spring break vacation with her daughters this year, and she mentioned a comment that one of her readers left on an Instagram picture that she posted from that trip:

"We see stuff when we are ready, and it's usually through the eyes of our kids."

It's like this person was speaking to me personally.  That sentiment exactly was what turned last weekend's trip around for me.  When I shifted my focus from everything that was going wrong according to my arbitrary plan and instead focused on what the girls were experiencing through their unclouded and nonjudgemental eyes it made everything so much better.  Clearer.  Less complicated and a lot more fun.

The icing on the cake?  As we were filling up the car at our last stop before finishing the last 90 minutes of the drive home, the girls turned to me and said, "Thanks for everything you did for us this weekend".  I didn't quite know how to explain to them that they have done more for me than I could have ever given them over those three days.

(P.S. By Saturday night, when The General was finally in a mental space that allowed him to speak to the staff at our hotel without fear of saying something he'd regret, he went down to pick up our pizza and stopped to thank the front desk staff for the being so kind and accommodating through all our ups and downs.  Their immediate response was, "Oh, are you Mrs. P*****'s husband?  Yeah, you've had a lot of issues".  It's always a good sign when the staff of a hotel of almost 400 rooms knows you by name.)


Munchkin said...

McKenna looks taller than me.

Page Turner said...

I like to plan too but still have fun.


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