So I have an insatiable need to travel. Dave has been very patient, and three months in Salt Lake dampened that wanderlust, but I’ve been itching to take a jaunt into the unknown. With Tess (rose-colored glasses off), all travel has changed. Dave and I will be going to San Diego for a translation conference and leaving her with my mom; it didn’t seem fair to her to be cooped up with two working parents for a week in a hotel room. We’re already talking about how much we’ll miss her, but it’s doable. I mean, how many parents get to travel together as a couple anyway? I’m already fortunate in that Dave can work remotely and join me!
From fortunate to absurdly lucky: I recently found out my brother Colin is joining my dad on an upcoming, 2-week trip to Shanghai that happens to fall right after my San Diego trip. I haven’t use any vacation this year. You see where I’m going. Colin and I have lived together since I moved back to Milwaukee in 2008, predating Dave by a margin. He’s about to move to his new place, so I was thinking this trip could be our last hurrah before he takes off for the third ward.
Normally, I would leap at this chance. In fact, I did kind of invite myself along. Still, in the last few days I’ve been thinking about what 3 weeks away from Tess will feel like. This is the trip of a lifetime with my dad and brother; we’d have a blast. Still, two weeks is a long time. More importantly, I’ve been daydreaming about using that time to hang out with Tess around the holidays and to see my family when they’re in town. Tess will only be a baby for so long. We’ll eventually have a second child and life will just get busier and busier. Still, that could argue in favor of going, as Dave pointed out! Taking grand trips is not going to get easier as our family grows.
These are totally first world problems: no mouths are hungry, no one will suffer based on my choice. I’m just finding that my independent, non-mom personality is now at odds with my new vision of the world and how I want to spend my time and energy. Uh oh – this may be yet another example of lessons I could have learned by paying more attention to the mom squad over the years. I’ll keep you posted on who wins: the traveler or the homebody!
…and the traveler wins. I can’t pass up the chance to hang out with my brother in a totally unknown part of the world. I’m going to China! That has induced copious amounts of paperwork, frantic ticket hunting, chats with my (awesome) manager, and random attempts at learning something about China. Oh boy; the organizer and planner is at a total loss. I haven’t even had a chance to pick up any Chinese!
I’m learning, as I get older, to let go of my desire for planning and perfection. Some of my most beautiful memories come from life experiences that just happen: reconnecting with Dave, our off-the-cuff wedding, our wild flight across the country based on gut instinct to get Tess, starting this blog… Life’s good. Random can be fun.
What’s hard is what a turning point Tess is at. Watching her learn to communicate and love food – these are things I revel in. I sat here tonight holding post-bath sweet baby Tess while Dave fed her cereal, and wholeheartedly agreed with his “I love our life more every day.” verdict. How can I stand a minute apart from this child who I just want to gobble up? What experience could compare? And yet one of my goals as a parent is to show her how big the world is, and how many choices have win-win outcomes. Dave is going to Skype me at least every two days so I can see them. And then I’ll be home, exhilarated by a completely alien culture. That satisfaction and joy can’t be communicated to non-travelers to my satisfaction. There’s nothing like it; it feels like you’re inundated by other and embracing a whole population all at once.
At any rate, this is already a mile long and I still haven’t communicated my point: how wrenching this choice was, and I suspect how difficult every choice like this will be. Dave and I were talking about a newly discovered benefit to becoming a parent in our 30s. I would have drowned myself in motherhood had I been fortunate enough to have kids sooner. I’ve learned the beauty of balance in the last few years, the importance of truly weighing outcomes and possibilities before making a move. It also allows us to balance who we are as individuals with who we are and want to be as parents. That, in turn, let’s us be the best parents we can be to our nugget who turned 7 months old today.