I love to travel. I have several future trips planned out in my head. Some of the trips are with my son and others are solo trips that I want to do when he gets older. My parents did not travel a lot, but even as a kid, I would day dream about seeing faraway places. In my twenties, I traveled several places alone. My mom was convinced that I was doing this to make her worry. Not true, I wanted to see new places the way I wanted to see them - walking around, getting lost, writing in my journal, reading a book and blending in with the locals.
Now here I am a single mother with a preschooler. My travel is limited to a 6-hour trip radius.. It's important to me that my son learn how to travel so when I can work out the funds, I take him places. Traveling has so much teach us - waiting, changing your perspective, adjusting, etc. The only way to learn to travel is to do it.
This summer, I took my son on a 6-hour train ride to DC. Our hotel was a 10-minute walk from the train station. We explored the National mall, saw museums, etc. It's been over a month and he is still asking about our next train ride. He slept 4 hours of the journey both ways. I worried a bit before the trip that he was not going to handle this well and it turns out that he did it better than me.
Car rides to the beach before now have been awful with my son. After three hours of being strapped down to a car seat, my son would literally start losing his mind - shouting, kicking, etc. This year, it's like he has figured it out and to confess, so have I. I surround him now with his favorite things and take advantage of those moments when he falls asleep.
More travel awaits us in the future. Right now, I just hope that he masters potty training so that we can end the diaper packing part of the trip. We talk about riding in a plane to California, riding another train somewhere else, riding a big boat on the water and possibly a submarine.
But, let me be honest. Traveling with a kid is scary. I try to convince another adult to come with us if possible so that I can go to the bathroom or run to the store for something without having to take him with me. Kids get very attached to routine foods which can be hard to find when you travel. Everything new has to be touched and explained. But, it's not all scary. Kids make you slow down and enjoy the trip in a different way. For example, in DC, I could tell that he was getting tired after lunch. So instead of rolling back to the hotel room, we made a picnic beside some food trucks and took our time.
When you have a kid - adopted, not adopted, single, not single, whatever, promise me that you will teach your kid how to travel. I promise that you will not regret it.
The latest presidential battle has been happening for years. Like everyone else, I am tired of it. Right now, I know who I am voting for so I do my best to tune it out. One political insult does get my attention though - flip flopper. Candidates use this term on each other to signal that their opponent is changing their views on a topic. As a parent of a three year old, I know a lot about this concept.
Three year olds have opinions and they are ready to express them. Sometimes opinions are shared at the dinner table when you serve dinner. Other times, you hear an opinion in a parking lot when you are in a hurry. Opinions are expressed through polite conversation, yelling, whispers in your ear, and tantrums. An opinion held in the morning can be reversed and reversed again before lunch time.
At age three, nothing is certain, except that opinions will be shared and change is going to come. So when I hear a candidate use the word flip flopper, I have to snicker. You guys and gals have no idea.
I am trying really hard to stay calm. Something chaotic and awful happened this week and I can't tell you the details. All I can say is that is scared me and made me think. Sometimes you can try and try with all of your might and still it does not work out. Then, you have to be an adult and realize that you can't continue down this path. You can't maintain it since it's costing you more mentally than it's worth.
I apologize for sounding cryptic, but what I am talking about is something in my pre-mommy life. Before my son was here, I lived my non-work life a specific way. I was social, always going somewhere, taking a class, trying out a new restaurant, etc. Now that I am a parent, everything is different. I am less social and social with different people including other parents. My time after work is spend closer to home. Instead of dance classes and new restaurants, my social calendar consists of dinner with my son, bath time and reading picture books in bed.
I am not complaining at all, it's the life I want. It's a great life, but I was trying to hold on to a pre-mommy activity in my life and trying to make it work. This week, it all came tumbling down. I cried. I fumed. I cried again. I went to bed angry. I pouted. I cried even more. Giving up one of the final pre-mommy actvities in my life makes me feel guilty and a bit like a failure. I don't want to do it, but no matter what solution I consider, it does not work out in my head.
It's time for me to change my perspective. Instead of whining about the loss of that life, I need to consider new adventures that my new life can bring. When one door closes, another one opens and makes you think of things in a different way. Pre-Mommy Me is no more, I don't want her back. It's time to move forward.
(I apologize from my delays between posts. Single parenthood is a busy life.)
June was a whirlwind for us. We typically go to the beach for a week during the month just before school lets out to beat the heat and crowds. This year, we had another trip, a long weekend in DC with my son's first ride on the train. We spent most of this past holiday weekend as slugs trying to recoup from all of the fun.
My son is officially three and a half years old. Some moments, he seems wild and unruly, but most days, he seems more grown up than he should. For instance, I went to pick him up on a hot day from preschool. He asked his teacher for a water, "to hydrate himself". Then, he got in our car and had a breakdown because I would not let him drive.
This age means lots of firsts for him, and I find myself more excited than him to help him experience new things. This summer so far has brought:
Being a parent means determining when it's the best time to let your child experience new things. You have to gauge your child's abilities with the risk and move forward. Some risks are small like letting him open and devour his first ice cream sandwich on a hot, summer day. Others are greater like putting a three year old on a train for six and a half hours and hope that he can behave himself.
It's exciting, but failure sometimes happens. Failure is one of the greatest lessons for anyone. How you handle yourself in the face of your child's failure can make or break the situation. To illustrate this, let me share our recent visit to the zoo. I decided at the last minute not to put my son in a stroller at a huge zoo. I wanted him to experience the tram ride between the two sides and our stroller is large and does not collapse to something small. About 20 minutes before lunch, my son announces that he is tired and wants to be carried. My sore hips bore his weight through two more exhibits, then we ate lunch. I reminded him throughout lunch that he needs to walk the rest of the afternoon with the reward of ice cream at the end of the day. That afternoon, we went at his pace and lingered a bit longer at exhibits to recover. By the end of the day, he had walked 95% of the day.
I knew that being a mother would mean watching my son experiencing his "firsts", but I never knew how much excitement I would feel watching him in these moments.