3.18.2014

travel after baby



My relationship with travel started in 2004. "Mex04" was the best 10 days of my life. As a sophomore in high school struggling and bored with the drama of teenage girl "friendships," I embarked on a mission trip with 11 other students and 2 adults who changed my life. Maybe it was the sweet niños with whom we played, crafted, and sang. Maybe it was Luz Maria, the kind lady who allowed 14 sweaty gringos to sleep on her floor. Maybe it was the desert landscape, the handmade tortillas, or the music of the Spanish language. Or maybe it was the simple act of telling Bible stories in another language, in the simplest of words, and sharing that experience with others. Whatever it was, I was hooked on travel. My eyes were opened to myriad cultures, languages, and ways of life, and I wanted to experience all of them.

This was before Facebook, Instagram, and online humble bragging, so you know my love for travel was real.

Next came Russia, followed by Ecuador, Panama, Colombia, Mexico again, then Oregon/Washington, Costa Rica, Germany, and Paris. Mission trips, immersion trips, visiting friends, and chaperoning student trips. Each year I saved my pennies and credit card reward points. Each year I combed the discount travel sites in hopes of that rock bottom fare. And each year I escaped the country in hopes of finding what my favorite novels had convinced me was on the other side of an international flight: adventure, romance, lazy glasses of wine, and eye-opening characters who would teach me a thing or two about life.


I'm not sure who or what convinced me along the way that all of this wandering would have to stop once we decided to start a family. Maybe it was the media's portrayal of motherhood. You know - the mother in a ponytail and button-up shirt picking out groceries. The mother folding down the seats of her minivan. I was under the impression that parenthood was so all-consuming that the actual parents ceased to have a life of their own once the child's life began.

Ew. No wonder so many in our generation are reluctant to have children at a young age! We all feel like we have to get our living done before "settling down," because once you have kids - YOUR LIFE IS OVER.

Let's dispel this myth once and for all. Becoming a parent does not mean becoming boring.

It took me awhile to throw away this false notion of all-absorbing parenthood. The book Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman first opened my eyes to the concept of the child fitting into the parents' life, not the reverse. I began to observe the young families around me, and reflect on my own parents' lives. No one was giving up their social lives, dreams, or sense of self. In fact, most families I observed were deliberately making decisions to keep their marriages and interests front and center in order to be better parents.

When we discovered we were expecting a child, this topic was heavy on my mind. As my belly grew, so did my excitement at becoming a mother. Why did I think I would have to give up travel? Now I could plan trips with the intention of exposing my child(ren) to the cultures I had so enjoyed discovering. I reflected back on a family I had met while chaperoning a trip in Costa Rica. A mother and her two young daughters were immersing themselves in Spanish at the language school in Sámara. That could be us! We could study Spanish together! We could even hike Machu Picchu as a family! Suddenly, motherhood didn't seem like a prison sentence. It was a door opening to a whole new world of possibilities.

I will be the first to admit that parenthood requires certain sacrifices. Financially, one parent has to choose to stay home with the children, or the family must decide to devote almost an entire income to childcare. Everything takes just a little more planning. Responsibility is no longer a nice option. It's required. But really, every other decision in life is a sacrifice of something. For example, if you choose to travel the world permanently instead of holding down a traditional job at home, you are sacrificing time with family, and often times financial stability. If you choose to buy a house, you are sacrificing the freedom of not having to shovel the sidewalk or mow the lawn. You get the picture.

It all comes down to the decisions you make. I choose to maintain my interests in literature, Spanish, and volleyball. My husband and I choose to make adult time a priority after baby goes to bed (Bananagrams and a glass of wine is way better than going to the bar). And I choose to keep saving my pennies and credit card reward points for that next trip.

And I know I'm new at this, but so far parenthood has been a blast.


*I had been planning on writing on this topic for awhile, but was feeling extra inspired after reading this post

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