If you believe in the saying that ignorance is bliss, nowhere is this more apropos than in those months leading up to having your first child. The “I will never do _____ when I am a parent” statements seem to flow out of ones mouth like the deep red wine that used to flow in. When my son arrived however, he proved that my plans and his were not the same. We bed shared, we used disposable and cloth diapers, I drove him around to just try to get him to nap sometimes, I even tried to lure him to sleep by giving him a pacifier (which he promptly spit right back at me until I gave up). There was one promise though that I was determined to keep to myself.
My husband and I travelled to Jordan when I was 5 1/2 months pregnant; and since pregnant women are apparently open season for any sort of advice, comments, and touching, I heard it all. “You are going to be so miserable on that long, long flight”, “You know you could get a blood clot and die”, “Why do you have to go to the Middle East, what’s wrong with the US?”. I brushed off most of these comments with a smile, and sometimes an eye roll. Then came the comment that I hated hearing the most, “Enjoy your trip, you won’t be doing this sort of thing after you have kids for a LONG time!” “I don’t plan on changing my passions and lifestyle once I have a baby”, I would quickly reply. Sometimes I would get a good for you type comment, but more often I would hear something to the effect of, “Just wait, you will see”…
My son just turned one about a month ago and I am happy to announce that I have kept my promise. In this first amazing year of his life he has been to IL, IN, OH, PA, WV, VA, IA, FL, DE, MD, and DC in the US, and England and Scotland in the UK. He has traveled by car, bus, train, plane, and bike. Has it always been easy? No. Have there been times that I wished I had not left my house? Never!
Just like parenting, traveling with a child is a lesson in patience and flexibility. There is no more waking up 20 minutes before having to head out the door to the airport, or choosing a flight based solely on price. Flights are often chosen based on nap times and the ability to have at least an hour before heading out the door to leave for said flight. Metro trips involve me attempting to stop my son from licking every germ ridden pole, seat, wall, and person in sight; and sadly no longer involve me zoning out listening to music (or pretending to so I can eavesdrop on the juicy conversation going on next to me). Twelve-hour drives are broken up based on nap times as well as eating, changing, and temperament check times. Biking…well we are still trying to figure that one out!
Traveling with my son has allowed me to see the world in a different light. Sometimes all you need is a duck to chase around a park, or a coaster to toss around at a pub, to have a good time. Traveling with my child has also made me realize how good I had it before, and how truly amazing I have it now!
Richelle runs a therapeutic outdoor adventure program at YMCA Youth & Family Services in the DC Metro area. When she isn't climbing up cliffs, paddling down a river or discovering the underbelly of the earth; she is traveling with her family, cooking, laughing, dancing and acting just slightly more mature than her son!
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