We’re back from Belize, and – surprise! – we’re alive. If you missed my initial post “Preparing to Die in Belize,” you missed a whole lot of anxiety over not much of anything, but as a parent, that feels kind of normal. Is that mosquito bite on little Jimmy’s neck actually from a tick infected with Lyme? Is Suzy’s weird Texas-shaped birthmark a sign that she’ll end up a Republican? A week long international trip without my three small children was bound to invoke a little paranoia.
Mom groups are a special form of my own personal hell. The awkwardness of deciding where to land, the sizing up, the side eye glances and half smiles…
Google is not my friend. For the past month, I’ve been scanning websites to catalog the horrors awaiting my husband and me on our next vacation. I am using the precise science of scrolling to gauge the likelihood of our first kid-free week in paradise resulting in body bags.
I love to travel because I love to eat, but when the hungry babies start howling from the backseat, I've learned to put my foodie preferences aside and make some concessions. Once we've arrived safely at our destination and everyone has had a solid night's rest, I can demand a farm-to-table house of kale complete with hipsters, their ill-fitting clothes, and all the pretentiousness. Until then, here's my list of "go-to" gourmet:
I am sitting at a Holiday Inn, chasing cold peanut butter toast with thin coffee. Behind me, I hear my five-year-old grunting and growling. There are intermittent high-pitched squeals and smacks against a pillow or maybe the mattress. I can’t be bothered to turn around. Then the crying begins, building in intensity with deep, dramatic inhales to catch his breath and long snuffs of snot being sucked back into his head. He is expressing frustration over his breakfast.
Parenting is a never-ending series of peaks and valleys. On an almost daily basis, I waffle between, “Wow! I am so great at this!” to “Holy shit. Who let me have children?” I have noticed, though, that as our little family adds miles to our travel log, days on the road tend to stay at the positive end of the parenting spectrum. Originally, I thought this was because Vacation Me is so much cooler than Everyday Me, but after careful consideration, I realized there are additional factors at play:
This week has been a train wreck. My husband was called away on last minute travel. My oldest came down with a fever and smoker’s cough, and we are scheduled to pile into the car this Saturday and make the 1,000 mile trek to Pensacola. I am grateful, and I am tired.
There are times when I make motherhood a lot harder than it needs to be. This usually presents itself in the way I overload our calendar with obligations and commitments that I end up regretting when the time arrives. I wake up dazed and drained from a night of bed-hopping and bad dreams, and Mama just wants to stay home; my calendar says otherwise.
Ireland is one of those places people dream about visiting “someday," especially after five pints of Guinness and four green Bud Lights. The lush landscape and pub culture appeal to the masses, but this destination seems to get pushed farther down the list to make room for all-inclusive beach vacations and trips to mouse-themed amusement parks. I get it. The sun and the sand and that squeaky little rodent are pretty sweet, too.