I just got puked on. In Spain.
[And it is here that I check my privilege. I am extraordinarily lucky to have a healthy baby and to have the ability to travel. Financially, health-wise, cultural acceptance of my race, religion and sexual orientation, etc. You get it. What follows are my observations from that point of privilege, which I try not to take for granted. But I’m also not going to write about that privilege here today. We cool? Cool.]
So let’s go back a skosh.
I remember entering the Ottawa Brewery Market in early September (think farmers’ market, but all craft beer… it’s awesome and you should go) to a chorus of, “Oh my god, you guys are such can-do parents! You’re not letting that baby slow you down at all!”
This was music to our ears. The baby was 7 weeks old and damn it if we were gonna let the sticky, sweaty, sometimes scary haze of new parenthood keep us from attending our fav event. We had only ever missed one, and that’s because I was in labour.
It’s not that we didn’t have fun. We did. But we almost didn’t leave the house (twice), and I cried in the car on the way there, for no real reason. And while apparently looking like badasses to our hip, childless friends, we were horrendously distracted.
Is he okay? Can he get rained on? Is he cold? Is 2 beers too much for breastfeeding? Will I need to pump and dump? Is that even a thing? I’m tired. I’m sweating. Why is everyone chilly and I’m so goddamned sweaty? Should we leave?
No one died, so we returned to the event the following month, this time in better weather and looking and feeling decidedly more put-together. Dusted off the old curling wand and everything. [Note to self: write blog post on the heaven-sent glory that is the curling wand]
But the secret internal monologue of stress and distraction? Samesies.
While breastfeeding one day the following week, I impulse-purchased plane tickets for me and the little guy to visit my dear friend in Halifax. Because I booked on my phone, while sleep-deprived, I didn’t notice that the plane stopped in Montreal, thereby doubling the total trip time. There were some tears on that flight, and not from the baby.
Traveling with a baby is hard. And by traveling, I mean leaving the house.
I’ve stressed over trips to Costco with the baby as much as over our trip to Ecuador when he was 5 months old. It’s hard. And it’s fun. Just not usually at the same time.
When we booked our flights for our extended trip to Spain, it felt equal parts thrilling and terrifying.
What if he didn’t ever get over his jet lag? What if he had allergic reactions to the food? What if the apartments were super noisy and he couldn’t nap? What if he stopped sleeping through the night?
Luckily, like most people, my husband isn’t nearly as neurotic as I am. He enjoys a confidence in his ability to solve problems as they emerge, rather than drive himself insane by imagining all the ways he’ll be undone by worst-case scenarios. What a kook, eh?
So, we scrimped and saved and then he booked the flights while I sat on our couch, drink in hand, baby in other hand, feeling a slight reprieve from my constant postpartum overheating as a cold sweat ran down my back.
And here we are in Spain.
And it’s glorious. And sometimes it’s challenging. And it is nothing like pre-baby traveling.
Sometimes it looks like this:
And sometimes it looks like this:
And still we get told that we are can-do parents who aren’t letting the baby slow us down. And we love hearing it. We soak that shit uppppp.
But here’s the truth: we are slow as f*ck. We just embrace the slowness. We have darkened the door of nary a museum. We go to parks. We shop at markets and cook dinner. We sit in our apartment from 6pm onwards, and watch Jane the Virgin on Netflix while the baby sleeps. We start blogs.
So, for us, when it comes to traveling, including leaving the house for any purpose, can-do parenting is as can-do parenting does. We do it and see if we can. I usually sweat a lot and cry once but we’re all still alive.
It’s not about ignoring my instincts; I would never do that. But I try (and my husband encourages me) to separate my paranoia that death lurks at every corner from actual risks/challenges and how to mitigate them.
And I’d probably be getting puked on anyway, so I might as well be getting puked on in Spain.