I work to travel. I spend countless hours devising ways to get out of town every week whether it's just for a weekend, or for a week in a foreign country. My husband and I have been to 21 different countries together, so travel is a big priority for us.
When we decided to have a child, I remember saying to my husband that we needed one last trip because we didn't know if we would be able to travel again with a child. That last vacation was to a lovely all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean with lounger chairs by the pool, drinks near the ocean, late nights and even later mornings.
Fast forward to months later, we had an infant and I needed a vacation. I was desperate to go anywhere really. I sold a trip to my husband by talking about the importance of our first family vacation, and the much needed calling for rest.
At 7 months we took our son to Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. I had never packed so much gear in my entire life. Gone were the days of trying to fit as many shoes as possible into our bags – instead I was sacrificing clothing for diapers, wipes and snacks. I was determined to bring enough pre-mixed formula bottles that we wouldn't need to wash a bottle (talk about expensive), and I wanted to bring every type of snack and food he needed so he didn't eat any resort food. I was stressed about our child eating at a 5 star resort – it was insanity.
After packing everything in sight (including bedding for his crib and wipes to sanitize everything in our hotel room), I stressed about every detail. Where would our son nap? Would his life jacket fit? Did I have enough toys? What if he got sick – did I pack every type of medicine he might need? I am pretty sure I was exhausted before we left.
Funny enough I packed magazines and books for the plane and resort – none were opened or read. There was the stress of making it through the flight without bothering other passengers with him being fussy, and making sure his ears didn't painfully pop. And the terror of changing a diaper in the airplane bathroom. The terror. Then at the beach we were making sure he didn't eat any sand, or get sand in his eyes. Sunscreen was applied every half hour, and always making sure his life jacket was on before entering the water.
Believe it or not, after all of this we had a great vacation. I spent so much time worried, it's amazing I had any time to unwind. It's hard to complain when you spend time in the Bahamas, so I have to say the vacation was well worth it. I was starting to yearn for those lazy vacations in the sun sleeping all day, and dancing all night.
Fast forward to 2.5 years later, and we have also travelled to Lake Placid, Bermuda, and Turks and Caicos together as a family. The stress has calmed a bit as our son has gotten older, but those magazines and books are still rarely opened.
Last week my husband and I went away on our first vacation without our son. We have done overnight trips away, but this was the first real trip where we were gone for 4 days to Las Vegas.
We made it – this would be our vacation where we could be lazy, we could do whatever we wanted, and I could finally read a magazine uninterrupted!
We had an amazing four days, but something unexpected happened. I was feeling a little guilty about leaving our little toddler behind.
We have been a team of three for a while now, and we left one man behind. As I strolled through shops, lazed by the pool with a magazine, and danced into the late hours of the night as I had always wanted to do, I felt like something, or someone was missing.
It didn't help that when we called home he didn't want to talk to us. Not because he was angry or sad he was left behind – he was afraid if I talked to him on the phone I would come get him from his beloved Papa and Duchesses house (he calls my mother the Duchess) so he didn't want to speak with me. He was in good hands, and so happy to be with my parents the kid wouldn't even take my phone calls, but I still found myself wishing he was with us.
When we have our son on vacation the additional stress of airplane travel, safety in the water and eating foreign foods, and planning naps are compounded into our trips. Now without him on a trip I have the stress and guilt of not having him with me and missing him.
Although he cried when we picked him up to take him home (I was feeling really loved!), the next day he told us "you don't go on a trip without London". Maybe he is right.