I’ve had this post started in my drafts since last June, and there it has languished until now. Rebecca of Girl’s Gone Child had just posted about their first out-of-state family trip with all four kids, and beyond the great pictures, this line really struck me:
I still have to download all the photos from The Cape and unravel all of those stories as well. In the meantime, I’m plotting our next sojourn. Because travel is everything. It’s my happy place. Even with its challenges and moments of stress and insanity, travel is where eyes are opened and monotony is broken and sippy cups are lost and routine is destroyed and oh what a wonderful thing. It’s where new places are discovered and people are known and moments are collected and kept. And two and a half years between trips is far too long.
This resounds with me. Travel…it makes me happy. I used to travel a lot, and every other year from 2000 to 2010, I managed to take an international trip to somewhere amazing and fun. Australia, Europe, Jamaica, Norway – all beautiful, inspiring places. I even lived in France for awhile in 2002 & 2004! I swore I wouldn’t let having kids change that, but then 2012 came and went without a trip, and yeah… kids changed that.
Don’t get me wrong – I still try to be impulsive and buy that last minute plane ticket and get the heck out of dodge. It’s just that now I’m juggling job responsibilities and parenting responsibilities and the never ending bills, and somehow the 28 flights over 7 trips that I’ve taken with my daughter in the past two years (full disclaimer – paid for almost entirely by my parent’s air miles to visit my family back in MN) don’t feel like enough.
To be perfectly honest, travel is another component of what I’m struggling with regarding working after this little man is born. Realistically, I just don’t see how we can cut that money from our monthly budget to make the SAHM gig work & pay our bills, and beyond that, I’m afraid that with the loss of our second income will also go our freedom to take trips from time to time. I know that logistically it gets harder to travel with more kids, but like Rebecca’s post above shows, it’s not impossible, and I have every intention to travel as much as I can, even with two kids. I think it’s hugely beneficial for children to expand their horizons and see that we don’t all live the same way and that’s okay. However, financially… I’m just not sure how to make it happen, especially if I give up the meager income I currently bring home in a month.
Does that sound whiny? Sorry, yes, I get that these are first world problems. Traveling is also at the core of me, and it’s a huge source of happiness and contentment in my life. I gave up grad school and a hopeful career in international business to marry my husband, live in a town of 1,000 people, work a “making-ends-meet” kind of job and raise my kids. Yes, I’m happy. Yes, I chose that path. But still…
When Stella was 9 months old she had her first overnight at Nana’s house. I was pretty much forced into it by my MIL and husband, and I was NOT happy about it (about the physical time apart or the prospect of pumping in the middle of the night) . That being said, Charlie and I ended up having an awesome night out together, and though I had my sad moments during those 18 hours apart (and hated having to pump!), I ended up being happy with the experience and that we had done it. We slowly started letting her do overnights at Nana and Papa’s house once a month or so after that, and now it’s up to once a week. Every Wednesday night Nana picks Stella up from daycare after work and brings her up to their house about 15 minutes away. They have a grand ole’ time together, Charlie and I get a night off from parenting, and Nana keeps her all day on Thursday for us while we’re at work. Yes, I realize this is a huge blessing!
This time around, little man will be about 9 months old when Charlie and I plan to leave him for a 3-4 DAY weekend trip next September. EEK! I’m a little nervous thinking about it (especially because of the nursing/pumping logistics), but really, I know we need this. Charlie and I haven’t had a trip together – just the 2 of us – since our Honeymoon to Jamaica 5+ years ago. That means it will have been SIX YEARS between fun vacations for us – that is way, ridiculously too long. One of my very first blog friends is getting married, and we plan on flying out to STL for the Friday wedding, going to a Cardinals baseball game on Saturday, possibly getting tattoos on Sunday, and flying home. Fun, right? 🙂 I’m trying to forget about the fact that it will be a long time away from my baby (and toddler), because I know that getting some great time together to recharge and have fun together sans kiddos is so important.
Here are my traveling hopes for the future.
I want to travel with JUST my husband more. I need to remind myself that it doesn’t have to be a grand international trip – it can be a quick trip to visit friends or a staycation somewhere close, but we need to start carving out more time for us as a couple to spend time together.
I want to continue to travel with my kids. Yes, we’ve done quite a bit of traveling with Stella (5 trips to MN, 1 to St. Louis, and 1 to Chicago), but I don’t want to let that lapse once there’s two kids to corral.
I want to take more non-extended family related trips. I LOVE visiting my family in MN, but sometimes it feels like all of our vacation days are used up to go to the same place over and over again, and I want to take my kids to NEW places. I want to do things like take 4 day weekend rafting trips or visit a national park in the area. I want to find activities to do together as a family that don’t necessarily involve a ton of plane travel.
I want to be happy with where I live and the path I chose for my life, and intimately involved with that is getting to a place of contentment with my life and remembering that I’m not stuck here – I chose to be here. I can still go places and do things, and most importantly – be thankful for where I get to come home to at the end of the trip.