Milkshakes and “Waterfalls” {A Family Adventure Gone Terribly Wrong}


Things to remember:

Bottle nipple (yes, we’ve forgotten JUST the nipple before)
Teething biscuit
Extra clothes
Baby carrier
Water for all
Snacks for all
Toys/books for long car ride
First aid kit (just in case)

Not to mention the things you need for venturing out during a pandemic:

Masks for all
Hand sanitizer
Potty seat to avoid public restrooms

Did I forget anything?

Also, make sure everyone is dressed in appropriate layers and shoes for planned activity.

Does anyone have to go potty before we leave?

*Pulls out of driveway*

“I have to go potty!”


Y’all, getting out of the house to do any kind of planned activity with kids, pandemic or not, is EXHAUSTING. I start making lists the day before to make sure we have everything we need and can get out of the house on time (ha!). This is a story about how sometimes, it’s just not enough.

One day, I read an article about a family-friendly day trip from Cincinnati that included a beautiful waterfall and the promise of a delicious treat afterward. It sounded like a perfect family day, so we got up early and ran around like crazy people getting everyone/everything ready. We left on time (our first and only win of the day) and drove about 50 minutes from our home with our 3-year-old asking how much longer for 49 of those minutes and refusing to play with any of the things we brought to entertain her.

As our GPS said, “You have arrived”, we looked around at a whole bunch of cornfields. We had not arrived. We thought we had missed something, so continued to drive around for an ADDITIONAL 45 minutes looking for signs we were on the right track. I’m not gonna lie, we all lost our cool. We were extremely frustrated and decided to just pull into a nearby parking lot, feed the baby, and go home. As we were sitting there, someone pulled up and says, “If you’re looking for the waterfall, it’s about six telephone poles that way!” and points us in the only direction we hadn’t driven. 

Once we arrived at the unmarked gravel lot, we were finally on our way. It didn’t take long for us to realize that this hike may be family-friendly, but it was not going to be friendly for OUR family. It was muddy and slippery, there were obstacles too tricky for a 3-year-old and my weak-ankled self who couldn’t see my feet because of wearing the baby (who was SCREAMING, by the way). As I apologized for the sheer volume of my child to every family who looked like they legitimately were having a peaceful morning, my husband ran back and forth between me and our 3-year-old helping us through mud puddles and down steep inclines.

It took us about 30 minutes and we got a glimpse of the waterfall. You guys, there was no water. I’m not kidding. It was a rock wall that, I’m sure, usually had water pouring over it. But today, somehow, even with the amount of mud we just trudged through, there was no waterfall. Our daughter was still determined to get down to the bottom and my husband said he would take her while I stayed with the baby tucked on the edge of the path just next to a cliff so we could safely let people pass us.

I sat there, trying to calm him, and between his cries, I could hear the cries of our daughter, “I can’t do it!”, “I’m going to fall!”, “Oh no, oh no!!!”. My husband was desperately trying to coach her through and offer encouragement, but she wasn’t having it. They ended up coming back up to me, defeated.

In that moment, I had to make a parenting choice. Do we persevere? Do we go and finish what we started?

No. Not today. I held my daughter’s face between my hands and said, “Sometimes, even when you do your best, you’re just not going to be good at something and that’s okay. Maybe we aren’t good hikers. But you know what we are good at? Drinking milkshakes. Let’s go.” 

So, we went back to the car and the way back was a lot of the same. Except this time, I went ahead to try and get some relief for our poor baby that we dragged along on this “adventure.” Well, not surprisingly, I lost my footing and fell. I turned my body to keep the baby from hitting the ground and slammed my hip and elbow. Both children immediately started crying. As my daughter repeatedly screamed, “Mooooommy!” and my husband asked me 1,000 times if I was okay, I was pretty sure everyone around us thought someone had just died.

But, with tears in everyone’s eyes, we made it back to the car. After changing a poopy diaper, we were on our way. It was past lunchtime and we were beyond the point of caring what any of us put in our bodies for lunch, so we stopped and picked up burgers, french fries, and milkshakes. When we got home, we sat on our back patio to have lunch together. We were exhausted and delirious and starting to laugh at the comedy of errors. Jokingly, we asked our daughter, “So, did you have fun?” Unaware of the joke, she smiled and looked up at us, “Yes!!” and that night at dinner, when we asked her what she wanted to thank Jesus for, she said “our family day.”

Mine and my husband’s hearts simultaneously melted as we realized how happy she was just to be doing something all together. And then we smiled at her beautiful innocence and later that night, we laughed and drank bourbon and talked about how she is never even going to remember this.



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