It’s much easier to write about wonderful occurrences. It’s more difficult to discuss challenges. I’d love to say that every day since leaving Alamosa has been smooth sailing, but in truth, we have had some struggles that we are working to overcome.
For me, the most stressful part of living in our travel trailer is sleep. I’m not talking about my sleep; I’m talking about my kids.
When we moved out of our home in Buena Vista Elias was sleeping in a crib in his own room. He now sleeps in a ‘big boy’ bed behind a curtain. While he knows he must remain behind the curtain, he will stay awake an hour or two, peeping his head out from the side or reaching his hands out below. I think Alex and I say “back to bed” two dozen times every night and each time we mutter those words, our little toddler quickly turns and runs to his bed. I am thankful he knows what this means, I only wish he would obey us. I’m sure this is not the last time I have this sentiment.
Keeping to a schedule has made Elias a great sleeper. This trip has made staying on schedule more difficult. It’s necessary, for all of our sanity, to take days off and focus on eating, playing and napping at the proper times. Too much running around exhausts little children and children that are too tired won’t sleep. How counter intuitive!
As a treat this Mother’s Day, Alex took the kids to the park and gave me free time to take a bike ride. Being on a bike in new town is like being an explorer. I have the freedom to go where I want without the restrictions of the road. I can move fast and feel the surrounding environment on my skin. I soak the town in and then sweat it out.
I climbed Hyde Park Road, 8 miles out of town to Hyde State Park. The view from this road is spectacular. It overlooks the city and large adobe homes that melt into the landscape. Camouflaged with Santa Fe’s red earth, these homes appear discreet despite their size. Terraced roofs mimic the slope of the hill and one after the next work harmoniously together like matching puzzle pieces.
After my ride we went to the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. A single open space with lots of hands-on play, Elias spent most of his time at the stove making chicken lettuce wraps for Daddy. Because the museum just reopened after renovation, it had a special bug exhibit which was absolutely fascinating. There were extinct beetles, spiders with deathly poison, a two-foot long spider and a tarantula hawk. I kept thinking what it would be like to meet some of these creatures in the wild. They were so frighteningly prehistoric they gave me the chills. While playtime here was a fun treat for Elias, this exhibit provided wonderful entertainment for me and Alex.
Peace is not necessarily quiet. Today peace was four people moving in synch without a hiccup.
Today being Saturday, Alex was free to spend the whole day with us. We took advantage and packed a whole lot in. Moving all of us between destinations could have been hectic but there was serenity to today’s agenda that made the Diamond family look as if it had invented clockwork.
We started the morning by checking out the Santa Fe Farmers Market. I am a fresh food fanatic and was in heaven for this was a pretty incredible market. While the meats, herbs and vegetables were vibrant, I could have spent the morning tasting the dozen varieties of hot and spicy goat cheese.
Onto Canyon Road where a quiet stroll passes dozens of gorgeous galleries, each with its own garden, blooming trees or epic sculptures out front. The sun shone on us, the wind blew softly and better yet, both children fell asleep as we perused canvas after canvas. With this peace I found a little of the old me and savored every moment.
Back home for a couple of hours of quiet rest and then on to the Genoveva Chavez Community Center, where Alex played basketball with Elias and we all went swimming. The pool in this facility was pretty incredible. One edge slowly sunk like a beach so Elias could wade about 15 feet in before his head was underwater. He loved the freedom of running around in the water. He even ventured down his first water slide which was in the shape of a giant frog. I swear he is fearless. While Alex swam with Elias, I dangled my feet over the edge with Xavier on my lap. He cooed and laughed until it was time to go.
Rarely do we move in such rhythm. It enabled us to do a lot. So much so that both children were asleep by 5:45 and even now, Alex is sleeping soundly beside them. This is a peace I have so sorely missed. Now if I could only figure out how to bottle it.
There is a contradictory element to this lifestyle. While we are on vacation, visiting new places and enjoying new experiences, we are like a turtle with its shell – always home. Our last two days in Santa Fe can better illustrate this.
Yesterday we spent the day in Santa Fe’s historic plaza. Dotted with churches, museums, galleries and shops this is a mecca for tourists, a role we happily played. We strolled through art markets, taking in the colors of the American Southwest and marveled at the connection this city has to Mexico.
In contrast, we spent today at home. After a leisurely morning, that included coffee and hot oats with apples and almonds, I cleaned while Alex worked and Elias watched Sesame Street. I took Meta and Eli for a walk and then took a bike ride during nap time. It was a day that mimicked any I might have had in our previous home. It’s made me realize that while I am completely at home in our travel trailer, I can become a tourist in a matter of minutes. It’s a contradiction that bewilders me but will no doubt become second nature.
After arriving in Santa Fe like four little tornados destroying the peace and stillness of our campground, I had a revelation this morning that made me realize that this is absolutely possible and I can certainly keep a handle on my two little children.
It is called Monkey and I think that it might go on the list of the best items ever purchased. I should better describe this and say that Monkey goes on Elias’s back just like a backpack and the its four-foot tail acts as a leash with which to corral speedy children.
Prior to being a parent I thought the idea of a child on a leash barbaric and humiliating. But now that I am a mother to a fast runner, determined to go his own way, I appreciate the value in keeping my child safe while also renewing my sanity. If people scoff at me, who cares.
Here’s the wonderful thing that happened this morning. I put Monkey on Elias for the first time, and like a puppy working for a treat, Eli walked calmly by my side. Here is a little boy who always runs as fast as he can into the most dangerous direction, strolling alongside me as if he were an old friend. Oh what joy!
With monkey proving an immediate success, we took a little hike and along the way passed a man with two small dogs on a leash. The comparison was pretty hilarious.
I lay awake many nights prior to this trip, worrying about keeping Elias safe. I feel like this is going to help. And whether it is faulty parenting, I’m not sure. But it works for us and that’s all that matters.