When it comes to us twenty-somethings we could be single and hitting the club every weekend or married and settled down with children. Being a twenty-something is a little strange, because everyone is all over the spectrum. I’m 26, soon to be 27, and right now I am happy being in a committed relationship as a girlfriend and travelling the country instead of settling into a home where I plan to live for several years. But then there are some days I do yearn for a place I can call home and that leads me to thinking about the best place to raise a family.
This past month I have been lucky enough to help take care of my ten month old nephew and I was even luckier to spend a portion of the time roadtripping back with him and my sister from Madeline Island to their home in Chicago. Although it took 13 hours to get home, we survived and I learned a thing or two about what it means to take on a 10 month old.
Our trip began with my sister carrying my nephew while I was carrying both our purses, two tennis racquets, an over-flowing diaper bag and balancing two English muffins a top a paper plate as we ran down main street a few blocks from the dock to catch the 8 am ferry from Madeline Island to Bayfield, WI. As my sister and I approached our car, which my father drove to the dock earlier in order to get a spot in line, we were nearly run down by a woman driving a massive van. Instead of waiting for us to jump into our car and board the boat, she was apparently too eager and uncertain whether she would make it. She was fourth in line. And the boat holds twenty or more cars. Clearly our road trip was off to a shaky start!
The trip to Chicago is normally a 9 hour endeavor so we had to make the early ferry, since the next one wouldn’t leave for another hour and a half. Oh the joys of living on an island! We figured we had it all planned out, my nephew would eat during the 20 minute ferry ride and take his first nap once we hit the road. Well it just so happens a ferry is incredibly fascinating when you aren’t even a year old and have only been on a boat for the second time. For the entire ride he was watching the waves and trying to figure out what was going on. I learned very quickly how important it is to be patient and flexible, because we ended up hanging around Bayfield for an extra 45 minutes trying to get the little guy to eat.
When my nephew finally finished his bottle, we hit the road. My sister and I made a quick stop at a drive-thru coffee shop and grabbed the necessary supplies for a long road trip – coffee and scones. I discovered babies are exhausting and it’s crucial to stay on their energy level, which was why caffeine was a must.
When my nephew awoke every few hours from a nap we stopped to change and feed him. Each stop grew longer and more difficult to strap him back into his carseat. His loud cries, big tears, and quivering lip made it seem as if we were torturing him. This is how I learned playing the correct music is also extremely important. Maybe this only goes for my nephew, but no ordinary song would work. It had to be this one. This was the only way to calm him down once we strapped him back into his carseat, so we played it on repeat for hours on end. But then there was a point when something changed and the song was no longer working. There is seriously nothing worse than a shrieking baby and having no idea what is wrong. As my sister’s and my tension heightened we even tried singing along to the song, but that did nothing to subside his pain. I tried feeding him more and giving him his favorite toys, but he just batted them away. With only an hour and half left before reaching home and our last stop being only 20 minutes ago we were desperate to stay on the road, but it was impossible. After circling a fast food parking lot maybe 20 times, we decided we had to stop and immediately after releasing my nephew from his carseat he let out a loud belch. It was hard not to be a little frustrated, but it was hilarious that all he needed to do was burp.
After strapping my squirmy nephew back into his carseat, for what I hoped was the last time, we were back on the road. Shortly thereafter the Chicago skyline came into focus and we knew we made it. The minute we pulled into the garage my nephew knew we were home, because his eyes widened and he perked up. I carried him up to his room and I have never seen an infant burst with excitement as he did that evening. He crawled around his room smiling, screaming and waving his hands.
After my road trip experience with my nephew and helping take care of him the last couple of weeks, I gotta hand it to all the mothers out there. But especially to all you twenty-something mom’s, because I now know what it truly takes to care for a baby. Right now being in my mid-twenties I may not be ready to take on that responsibility, but I am incredibly impressed by what you all are capable of.