Earlier this year, my husband informed me that our whole family was invited to attend a company trip out of the country in July. Rather than excitement for a family adventure, all I could feel pulsating through my veins was dread. This trip is an opportunity too wonderful to turn down, but ugh, the thought of foreign travel with a five month old and a four year old makes me anxious. All I have going through my head is: The flights, germs, layovers, airport food, tantrums in the seat/aisles, jet lag, germs, cabin pressure, nursing in public, germs, tiny airplane bathrooms, passports, tickets, luggage, carry-ons, “Don’t drink the water!”, diarrhea, sunscreen, sunburns, strollers, diapers, germs, hotels, mass transportation, people sneezing/coughing/farting/snoring in my/my kids’ faces, and did I mention GERMS? GAH! Ok, deep breath.
When did I become such a party pooper?!
Before we booked our trip, I sought the opinion of all the wonderful and wise people around me. Surely they would tell me I was crazy for taking my kids out of their safe, nurturing environment. I asked my pediatrician. I was certain he’d caution me against foreign travel with a baby and toddler. What with all the germs and illnesses out there in the world! Instead, he was excited for us, assured me my kids would be just fine and instructed me to ENJOY our trip. I then went to all the breastfeeding gurus. I was pretty confident they’d tell me that this trip would be catastrophic to my nursing schedule. They too encouraged me to take my kids out as much as possible and that the baby would be just fine because he’d be nursing the whole time and not be exposed to new foods. As long as I brought various remedies with me, I have been assured we will likely be ok.
Ok, so why am I still so nervous? I think it’s because I am tired. Since becoming a mom of two, I find solace and safety in the comfort of my routine and just being at home. It is just too exhausting and complicated to switch things up dramatically by traveling far, far away from my comfort zone and bringing my family along for the ride. I also tire myself out with all the negative, fearful thoughts spinning through my head (refer to first paragraph). I think of all the hard parts of traveling with kids and then worry about the things that could go wrong, rather than focusing on the fun aspects of a trip together. I am a little bit of a worry-wart, always have been, but if I want to enjoy life with kids I’ve got to get back in the habit of positive thinking. I have always considered myself to be pretty adventurous so if I want my kids to be well-rounded individuals, I can’t keep them forever sheltered in a bubble. And I most certainly can’t freak out every time we take a step out of our normal routine. There is a whole world out there for my kids to discover and I want them to see it, experience it, and enjoy it. But oh boy, is it tough to relax while still doing everything I possibly can to protect my children from harm!
Sure this trip will be exhausting. But it will also be fun, exhilarating and a true learning experience for the whole family. It will also help me build strength as I seek to relax and enjoy the adventures of motherhood a little more – facing my fears and rising above new challenges. That is what life is all about. That is what I want most for my children.