Back at work for a few days, I thought it would be a great idea to spend some time in our Regina office to get myself immersed back in the culture and the products. What a fantastic idea. Having moved away from my family who was used to spending hours and hours with my young children, I hmmed and hawed about bringing them with me. After getting all the details worked out on who could look after my kids each day I decided to bring them.
Now the direction of this story has changed.
First things first, packing for a 3 year old and a 10 month old is no small task. There are just the basic needs that are required regardless of how long the trip. There’s a play pen, a booster seat for feeding, a diaper bag, a bag of baby food products, my work bag, a bag of clothes for kids, a bag of clothes for me, then there’s road trip toys, activities and snacks. I was hoping to be loaded by 1:00pm.
I pulled out of the yard at 2:30pm. Okay, no big deal. A 5.5 hour drive that will take 7 hours with the children on board. That gets us in at 9:30. That’s no big deal. I realized I was going to drive through a bit of a weather system, but I should be okay.
So on the road. 2:48pm I look down and notice that my husband’s wallet is in the van. Shit, he’s going to need that for sure. He’s going in to Winnipeg to pick up some things to get our home office set up for when I get back. I give him a call. We decide he’ll jump in the car and start driving and we’ll split the 20 minutes to get me back on the road faster. So I pull over and turn around and start driving the way I’ve come. 2:55 I get a phone call. Ummm. The car keys are in my purse. Dammit. Well the good news is, we figured that out only 20 minutes away instead of much further down the road. He definately needed those. So back to the farm.
3:18 I pull out for the second time. Okay, this puts us in around 10:30. Not ideal, but I got a good night’s sleep the night before so I’m still confident. Here we go.
The kids are fantastic. My 3 yr old watches a movie and eats her popcorn for the first couple hours. After about 3.5 hours of driving I start to notice little specs of snowflakes in the rain droplets. Ah, here comes winter. I’m not overly afraid, I’ve got my winter tires on and I’m in no hurry.
Another half hour, it’s mostly snow but the highway is warm enough to melt the snow as it lands. No big deal.
Except when it gets colder. Another half hour, we’re starting to plan our late supper stop. The highways are getting slick and we’ve opted for the comfortable speed of 80kph. Again, I’m not in a hurry. We pull in for gas and some supper and we were fortunate enough to have a local warn me about the roads. “miss you got two little kids, it’s not the night to be out on the roads with them. You drive safe, you here?”
Um yeah, thanks. I wasn’t planning too. But now I’m a little more nervous.
So back on the road, it’s past 6:30, I’m still 3 hours away normal drive time. I’ve driven 2.5 hours in 4 hours. That’s not great progress. But away we go. I have no hesitation to pull over and get a hotel if I feel tired or scared. But I’m still okay.
A few minutes on the road and the snow is sticking to the highways now. It’s not all ice, it’s surprise ice. You never know when you’ll just lose traction. For almost 30 minutes there was no traffic heading west. It was like everyone this side of the Prime Meridian knew better than to head to Saskatchewan. That was a little unsettling, but then traffic started to show up. Few and far between, but I wasn’t alone anymore… although eventually I would wish I was.
There were a few dumb drivers who whizzed past me. Slow and steady wins the race, I said to myself, in the words of the great Aesop’s fables. I’ll see you in the ditch ahead I suppose. 3 out of 6 times that was the case. The first victim of my foreshadowing was a Red truck. I watched it miss a curb and drive across the grass to come up on the highway on the other side. As I passed it in the slow lane, I could see the driver gripping his wheel, catching his bearings just stopped, frozen in the middle of the passing lane. Poor guy, but I tried to warn him.
Next was a little car. Just a quick spin and poof, into the ditch.
The scariest was the semis on the road. They were either driving really slow, trying to fight the wind and stay in a straight line, or speeding at over 110kph, while the rest of us were meandering at a comfortable 70kph. One driver was being particularly scary as he whizzed by me in the passing lane which was nothing but ripples of frozen slush. Unfortunately, this driver managed to take out someone else with his crazy driving and I found him rolled in the ditch on one side of the road with the other victim jackknifed on the other side.
Slowed down just a little bit after that one.
You may be wondering what the girls were doing during this trip. The baby had an awesome nap, by the end of the trip, approximately 7 hours of it… I hadn’t started to worry about how the night would be. One step at a time. The three year old was more sympathetic to the situation than you would expect.
“Mommy, can you push play?”
“No sweetie, mommy’s just going to keep these two hands on the wheel so I don’t slip off the road. The roads are really really slippery”
“Okay. Don’t go too fast, or you’ll slip mommy” That was as demanding as she got.
About an hour from the city and 2 hours from my final destination, the roads cleared and it wasn’t half bad. It was approaching 10:30 and I still had an hour to go to get to Grandma’s so I could leave the kids for child care. A quick drive through the city and then back on the highway. My mom suggested that I don’t travel, that the roads south of the city were awful. My hubby said the same. My brother texted me letting me know I could stay at his girlfriend’s on the air mattress.
I thought – shit, it’s been bad this far, why stop now? But I was starting to feel a little defeated.
4 miles south of the city, 4 slippery frozen miles, I pulled over and checked my options. I could do the drive to Grandma’s, but the drive back to work in the morning brought tears to my eyes. I texted my brother accepting his offer to sleep on his girlfriend’s floor. I was so angry – I had made it this far. Now I was going to have to find child care for the next day and I had what I deemed to be an important 8:00am meeting that I really wanted to be at.
Off to my brothers.
I’ll only draw this picture once, but it will be replayed and replayed throughout the week. Unpacking for an evening – 2 bags of clothes, a diaper bag, a food bag, a play pen and a back pack full of electronics for work. It’s not a one trip deal. And one arm has to be free to carry 45lbs of car seat and baby and the other to hold a hand as we walk across slippery parking lots. I feel mostly like a mule, but tell myself I’m a sherpa – it has a little more dignity.
So in to my brother’s girlfriends. We settle in quickly. A restless night sleeping with my 3 year old who needs to cuddle to sleep, but doesn’t care what part of her body needs to touch you. Twice it was a foot to the face, once a hand. Twice I through her over to her side of the air mattress, twice she came back. Not a ton of sleep. But baby slept through the night.
Morning came early, having just experienced the fall back of daylight savings, my kids didn’t get that memo. 5:22 am I have a finger up my nose. Followed by a wandering hand across my face and into my mouth.
We were out of the apartment by 6:45am after a 15 minute attempt at breakfast which included 2 bowls of puffs on the floor. And yes leaving includes loading us back up. I needed to find day care… but it’s too early to call anyone. I pick up some groceries and then call my first day care provider begging and willing to pay whatever rate she throws at me. She can take them. Problem solved.
So I manage to drive 9 hours, get storm stayed, find day care and make my 8:00am meeting to find out my appointment was stuck in traffic. You have got to be kidding me. Oh well, now I have some time to get settled in at work.
Off to pick up the kids and go to the condo to get settled in for the week. Bare with me, the details get long, but the story is something else on top of a blizzard. It’s me, a 3 year old and a 10 month old and 220lbs of stuff. It’s not a one trip load. I pull behind the building to the underground parking door. It’s an ancient building, the drive in to the parkade starts with a 45degree angle. I’ve seen it before and I brace myself. But I don’t have a garage door key. I pull my van with the lights touching the door so vehicles can get behind me in the narrow alley. I pull the key, lock the doors and race through the building to the front doors, down the stairwell to the parkade, up the steep ramp. hit the button, jump in the van and hope to hell that there’s a sensor so I don’t get crushed by a closing door. Getting down is no small adventure as my Hidden hitch leaves a trail behind me. Sneaking in between the pillars, add 10 minutes of navigating and in to my parking lot. A little sigh of relief. Okay we’re here.
I glance back at my cargo. A short pep talk, I can do this. I have no other choice. I survey my load. How much can I carry? – definately two trips and I need it all for the night and morning. With bags swinging from my neck, a car seat, back packs and a crib I hustle my 3 year old along through 4 doors and steep stairs. To the elevator. Up the elevator into the condo. We get off and I exhaustedly drop my bags.
I try to convince my three year old to stay up with the baby and watch me in the security camera as I run down the stairs to get the last bags, but quickly realize that I’m better off to bring her with me rather than have her step in to the elevator and disappear. So I leave the 10 month old baby strapped in the car seat and try to hurry down to the van. It’ll only be 3 minutes, max.
Down the steep stairs, through the doors to the van, I grab the last bags, my thoughts on my baby alone in the condo. What else could I have done, I tell myself. As I hoist the last bag over my shoulder I fumble for the key that gets me back up to the condo. It’s missing. OH MY GOD. Where is it? I instantly panic feeling around the edges of the van, the floor, shaking out my 3 year olds coat. It’s no where to be seen. I can’t get back to my baby who is upstairs all by her self without that key. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. The panic is intense. I calm myself. The key has to be here, I couldn’t have gotten in to the parkade without it. It has to be here. What are my options? I have to find the key. I start emptying my bags out on the parkade floor. Picking up each individual piece of clothing, unfolding it and shaking it. It’s at the bottom of a bag. It’s been 15 minutes of searching, I’m in tears and I still have to haul all this stuff up the stairs to check on my abandoned baby.
I’m frantic as I rush my three year old up the stairs. Stepping in to the elevator I can already hear her cries. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Worst mom ever. Oh my god. Deep breaths, it’s okay, it’ll all be okay. I rush through the elevator doors and unbuckle her as fast as is possible with a five point harness and hold her close to me. Okay. It’s all here. We can get settled in with some supper. The remainder of the evening was normal. My dear 3 year old had stripped down to her skivvies jumping on a bed with popcorn within 15 minutes of being there. Like I said, normal.
Day 2, daycare is in the northwest end of the city. I plan for the roads and the drive time and head out of the condo at 6:45. Now daycare isn’t just a diaper bag. Nope, it’s a play pen, it’s a diaper bag, it’s a backpack of winter clothes and a bag of food for the baby. Hauling this all back into the parkade. Sherpa I said, not a mule.
Load up and start navigating the pillars. I said… start. navigating. the. pillars. Good lord. That was 20 minutes to get my bohemoth mini-van out of the narrow turnways and up that steep ramp. Put the van in park as it perches at a precarious 45degree angle, rush out, hit the button and jump back in. Shift in to drive and I start sliding down the driveway, I step on it and my tires squeal as I lurch in to the alley. Free at last. But this is ridiculous. I get to the office an hour after leaving the condo.
Pool party night with the family. Go load up the kids from day care, drive to the hotel where Auntie was staying, unload the bags and take over the hotel room. It’s an awesome night. I’m so lucky to have such a close family. Load it all up and back to the condo.
Screw the parking lot, I ain’t doing it. I park on the street, realizing that I’m up earlier than the buses and the parking meter attendants. Just try and stop me. I wrestle my 45lb car seat and all my bags up the stairs and collapse in bed.
Day #3- day care is with my sister in the same hotel room that I had just left. But it’s early, too early. Off to a the restaurant for some breakfast while I wait for Auntie to wake up. By 7:15 I figure I can drop them off. Uneventful, no big deal. Just the regular 120lb property exchange and off to work I go. I fight the traffic to pick up the kids, reminding myself how lucky I am to get to go home next week to my farm, where there’s no traffic to be found… anywhere. Back to the condo. By this time, I’m exhausted. I had managed to dig up a key fob for the garage door and haul my stuff down in to the parkade. I’ve got my mom with me for Day #4 daycare. She grabs the oh shit handle as we surge down the steep ramp into the underground parking. With her help, this should be easy. Thank god for moms.
We hit the elevator and what’s that? You have got to be kidding me. A sign, the elevator is out of service for preventative maintenance…. and all I have is an elevator key fob. Oh my god. This is crazy. Someone is trying to break me. Well there must be a key fob in the back entrance to the condo up the stairwell. So we haul up the stairs. My legs are getting tired by the time we hit the third floor. I study the door… nothing. Keys only. No fob box. What the hell am I going to do? My mom drops her bags and grabs a seat on the stairs. I get on the phone to call the Executive assistant on her cell. No answer. Damn it. Damn it.
I’m about to go check in to a hotel when a girl comes up the stairwell to her 4th floor condo. She mentions that she was about to use the elevator anyways since it’s usually just a security issue, not a operational issue. Okay. There’s an option. I’m going to try the elevator. Down the stairs, I bring my phone with me and call the executive assistant. I push the button and the doors open. Stepping in, the voicemail picks up. I explain that I am going to try the elevator, I don’t know what else to do, I really hope to see her tomorrow and that I’m not found curled in a ball in the elevator. I push the third floor button and the elevator starts up. “I think I’ll be ok-ayyy” my voice catches as the elevator lurches. Oh jeez. But it keeps going up. The doors open and I’m IN! Hurray! I open up the back door and let my family in.
Good lord, nothing is easy, eh?
In the morning, I decide to walk to work. Forget the parkade. The kids stay at the condo with Grandma, there’s no hauling, loading or carrying. No wrestling, shoving, tripping, yelling or crying. It’s a good day, right?
It actually is. Work goes well other than the epismal flop of a project that I’m trying to get back on track. I walk back to the condo after work and find my sister and my mom ready to load up the girls to take them with them so I can have a night with my fellow co-workers playing RuneWars and 7 Wonders. Awesome. It was a great day.
Being the partier that I am, I hide myself away in my room at the witching hour of 10:00p or so. When I wake up for a drink after 11:00 everyone is gone. I get to sleep in a little bit, hello 6:40. Uugh.
Coffee tastes good though and it’s a day off. My week is almost over, I’m off to Weyburn to pick up my girls and spend some time with my nephew. Then it’s back on the road again.
Being the optimistic person that I am, I’m going to say that this is the end of the adventure. I haven’t attempted the drive home yet, but I’m hopeful the end of the story goes like this:
The drive home is uneventful and voila, it’s over. A ton of lessons learned about bringing my kids with me on work trips.
I’ll update it if I have to, but please, lord puhlease, let it be over.