I’ve said in the past that “sometimes we just need to run.” Well, in this case, I just need to write. I keep waiting for the perfect time and the right inspiration to sit down and write, but I think I’ve finally realized that with a rambunctious seven month old and life happening all around me, there just isn’t such a thing. So, here I sit, with a messy house and my husband folding laundry behind me (God bless him).
In an attempt to justify my lack of correspondence, I will say that we have been on a major hiatus from regular life. We decided to take a two week trip to the southeast US, then chase that five days later with a quick trip down to Southern California. All in all, I’ve learned that vacationing with a baby, although a change from the everyday humdrum of life, is by no means a normal “vacation.” At least not based on this particular experience.
Nevertheless, this is no reason for me to have neglected the blog, and I want to thank some of you who have held me accountable with emails and inquiries as to when my next post will be revealed. Sometimes, a little pestering is enough to get the fingers typing. Plus, you guys make me feel special.
So, lets discuss this whole “traveling with a baby” thing. My most accurate description of this experience is basically taking all of your parenting worries and doubts and smashing them into a short period of time in a strange place with lots of strangers around you.
I never said I wasn’t a little dramatic at times, but hear me out…
Traveling with my seventh month old felt like I had ripped off some sort of protective film that I’d been developing over the past six months. I no longer had the safety net of being in a familiar place or around familiar people as I dealt with the everyday ups and downs of life with an infant. And, not surprisingly, the things I struggle with the most were amplified to the tenth degree.
There’s a big huge part of me that likes to please people and avoid conflict. To be honest, I think many people have this urge, but for those special few of us, it can be a little paralyzing at times- especially when conflict arises. In large crowds of strangers, I would say that for me, this feeling usually causes me to try my very best to be invisible. You can’t offend anyone if they don’t know you’re there, right?
Unfortunately, when you have a teething, tired, hungry, wiggly, generally unhappy baby it’s really hard to be invisible- even more so when you are in close proximity to other people- like on a plane, or a restaurant, or a store, or a theme park, or a hotel… so, I was pretty much hosed from day one on this trip.
I found myself constantly worried about what others were thinking. Every time he let out a scream in a crowded area, I just imagined every head turning and boring a laser beam stare straight at me. I couldn’t look up, of course, so I have no idea if this was actually true, but I was sure of it at the time.
It took until the last few days of the trip for me to rethink this situation.
I was walking around Universal Studios with Baby Boy strapped to me in his carrier. He was screaming in protest as I tried to get him to fall asleep for his much needed and very late nap. I had stretched him way past his nap time once again and was wishing desperately that I hadn’t. As I walked through the droves of people I caught a few grimaces from the surrounding crowd. Looking back now, I’m sure at least a few were well-meaning. I mean, to think he was the only kid at Universal Studios that had a complete breakdown that day is just ridiculous and I’m sure many of those grimaces were looks of, “Yep, I’ve been there. In fact, that was me an hour ago.”
But, man, was it hard not to question every decision I’d ever made up to that point.
“Why didn’t I just go back to the hotel?”
“Why did I even agree to bring him to a theme park? Am I crazy?”
“Do I even have any business being a parent?”
Then, in the midst of all this a fellow mom passes by with her stroller and says, “Oh my gosh, I know how you feel girl, this one hasn’t napped all day and I’m going crazy!” as she points to her grumpy toddler-aged daughter, “You got this. We moms need to stick together, especially in places like this!” She gave me a little wave then kept walking. I must say, I was a little stunned. I had never had a complete stranger talk to me like that, especially when my kid was screaming at the top of his lungs. It was just what I needed. Just knowing for sure that I wasn’t the only one pulling my hair out, doubting my parenting abilities.
We probably passed each other three more times that evening and we’d give each other a another knowing wave, an eye roll, or a thumbs up… just checking in with each other.
For the rest of the trip, I chose to hold on to that moment. It was nice to feel that camaraderie in the midst of what felt like chaos at the time. In that moment, I didn’t necessarily need physical help, I didn’t need advice, I just needed someone to help me step out of my frantic, negative mindset and know that I wasn’t a bad parent, I was just a normal person trying to do the best that they could with the situation at hand. And, best of all, I wasn’t alone.
So, all those people that you feel like you are inconveniencing with your noisy child (whether they are real or not) can just take a hike. You are teaching a tiny blob how to be a decent human being and that’s hard.
“You got this. We parents need to stick together. Especially in places like this.”
I have more to say about traveling with bebes. So, stay tuned.