I love that after 7 years of parenting I can still be amazed by the tiniest of milestones. Smiley is pointing at everything these days and twisting his mouth every which way to create new sounds. All day I watch his little mind piece together new puzzles and at least once a day I think, “Wow! Who in the world taught you that while I was running around mothering?”
My favorite Sunday morning escape is to the nearby middle school track, where my multi-tasking skills can shine…here I am playing fetch with Winston while kicking the soccer ball, shooting photos and drinking coffee. A few minutes later I will add lightsaber fighting to the list. On any given Sunday, we are joined by other multi-taskers as well. There’s the Dad walking the track while alternately tossing balls to his dog and his lacrosse-stick-wielding son. There’s always at least one mom running laps while her kids pedal around on their trikes and bikes. And the most relaxed ones there: the older power-walking couples, who make grand gestures with their hands as they walk, talk and laugh through their laps.
I’m currently nursing a family road trip hangover. It was only a 2-day/1-night trip with a mere 3-hour drive, but when you’re traveling with a 1-year-old every minute equals more like ten. I’ve now sworn, yet again, not to travel with Smiley until he is old enough to be plugged into a DVD (aka: zombie maker).
My feelings on family travel swing wildly from: “We are adventurous, fun people, and adventurous, fun people get out into the world!” to “You damn fool! You will stress over packing, stay up all night when somebody can’t sleep in the hotel, struggle through forced fun in a strange city, and come home with a sinus infection…for crying out loud, stay home or spend the money on an adult-only trip!”
The optimist in me keeps going because I just know that one of these days, things will be breezy. And the stubborn parent in me says that even if it’s never breezy, we must travel together to instill adventurous spirits in our kids, even if we die trying!
While we have not traveled as often or as far as we would like (pesky mortgage!) we did take an ambitious trip a few years ago to visit friends in France. It was our biggest adventure to date and I have never regretted taking the kids with us, even though they were only 3 and almost-5 at the time.
More than one person thought we were crazy to bring our kids along because they wouldn’t be old enough to remember much of it. Not the point, I thought. I’m convinced that the experience is imprinted on them regardless of how many details they recall. And for what it’s worth, the kids do remember parts of the trip. Their favorite and clearest memory from 10 days in France is captured here:
Years later they still get dreamy and gushy when they talk about that merry-go-round. “Remember when I road the flowery horse?” “Remember when we saw it from the top of the Eifel Tower?” “Remember how we rode it at night with all the lights on?? Oh that was the best, Mama, the best!“
So it is memories like this that keep us traveling even after a miserable car ride and a 2am meltdown in a cramped hotel room. After all, if we are going to be the kind of family who shares adventures together, we can’t exactly stay home. Adventure requires leaving our comfort zone every now and again.
Which brings me to my last show-n-tell item and final point. When we leave our comfort zone, we don’t necessarily have to leave all comforts behind. In fact, I’m a believer in packing for emergencies of all kinds:
Because sometimes even the French countryside just isn’t scenic enough.