The Trips of Yesterday, The Trips of Tomorrow

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Last night after work we celebrated my husband’s birthday at home with a homemade chocolate and strawberry cake, his meal of choice (pizza), iced tea, a homemade card from our 5-year-old, and a small smattering of largely practical gifts like new flip flops and work shoes.  It was an affair put together with love, but it was certainly on the modest end of the spectrum as far as birthday celebrations go.

We couldn’t help but chuckle a little at the contrast to how we celebrated his 40th birthday exactly a year prior.  That particular birthday was celebrated over a period of a week with around-the-world flights in premium cabins, time on a private island in the Maldives, friends in both Amsterdam and the Maldives, and the actual birthday itself was celebrated with friends over an outdoor chef prepared private dinner at one of the nicest resorts I have ever personally experienced.

In fact, when comparing the two events that were just one year apart, about the only similarity was that the cakes for the 40th and 41st birthdays were both chocolate.

It may sound like I am lamenting this year’s modest celebration in comparison to last year’s extravaganza, but in fact I loved them equally because they were both exactly what was right and desired at that point in our lives.  While the rest of the post may ramble a bit, that is actually the message I want to get across.  When the stars align to make the time right to take that big trip you want, don’t put it off as the stars will invariably change course again.  This is true for everyone, but especially true for families who are dealing with so many more moving parts.

Private dinner on an island, a far cry from our dinner table at home

Private dinner on an island, a far cry from our dinner table at home

To put it another way, not all moments in time in family life are created equally.  If nothing else over the last year that is a lesson that has been engrained in my soul.  I could have had no clue sitting there on the beach in the Maldives in early May of 2014 what all would transpire over the next 12 months.  Thankfully we are all still healthy, which I don’t take for granted in the slightest, but so many other things have changed in ways that would have made that exact trip and type of birthday celebration completely out of the realm of possibility today.

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No jetting to a remote island for me

For starters, I am now clearly too pregnant to comfortably jet around the world, much less head to a remote private island.  That was something we hoped for a year ago, but there was never any way to know how it would play out.  Next, my husband has gone from having a job with some tenure and flexibility to one where he is very much the new guy on the totem poll with no vacation days or flexibility.  We have gone from the luxury of his working from home most days, to one where he spends close to 3 hours a day in the car commuting.  Among other things, this means we are all tired (especially him), and have to relish and protect our weekends and days off at home more than we did in the past.  Consuming long weekends with trips away doesn’t work nearly as well when you have to hit the road again at 5AM on Monday to start another very structured work week.

Let’s also not skip over the reality that we know unemployment and a loss of income are always just a day away.  In recent weeks we have seen so many of our friends go from stable and well paying jobs to unemployed, and we know that it could again be us at some point, any point.  Some vacations paid for with miles and points can have virtually no out of pocket costs associated with them, but our time in the Maldives was certainly not one of those trips.  It was expensive even though we used points, so I know that expense couldn’t be justified given our recent history and upcoming new addition to the family.  I’m so glad we did it when we did, because I will always remember it even if we can’t repeat it.

Starting in July we will have yet another reason that big trips like that just won’t make sense for a while.  Yes, we absolutely plan to travel with our baby, as well as sometimes leave her in the arms of a Grandma, but not to head off to a remote island for a week.  The following month our oldest daughter will start Kindergarten, and while she will continue for one more year at her current private preschool that affords more flexibility than public school, her schedule certainly will only become less flexible in terms of travel as time goes on.

As we celebrated Josh’s birthday last year we were on the horizon of a whole summer of planned travel adventures.  We went to Alaska the day after school finished, headed to Washington DC and NYC shortly after that, then visited family in Kansas, and rounded out the summer with an amazing week in Kauai.

This summer?  We have nothing planned as far as travel goes.  My last scheduled flight is next week and then nada.  We hope to drive to Hyatt Lost Pines for a night or two before the baby comes early in the summer, but so far that’s it in terms of anything booked.

There is some tentative work related stuff we may travel for in August, but for most of the summer we will be playing in the neighborhood, hitting the pool, and either waiting for the baby to arrive, or adjusting to life as a family of four once she does make her appearance.  And no, sadly I will not look like the Duchess of Cambridge just 10 hours after delivery, though I will happily accept a hair stylist into my hospital room if one was offered.

In many ways yesterday was just another day, but it also marked a specific point in time where it was easy to look back at where we were 12 months prior and sort of marvel at the changes life has delivered to our family.  Some of those changes were welcome and exactly what we hoped for, others were much more mixed blessings.  Our days look very different now.  Our way of looking at many things has changed.  In just a couple months the make-up of our family will be forever changed.  Of course our travel patterns have also changed along with all of that.  What made sense then would not now.  What kept us happy and fulfilled now may not have been enough then.

I don’t know what our lives will look like 12 months from now as we again celebrate Josh’s birthday, but I know for certain it will look different than today.  There will be a high chair at the table.  There will probably be bigger bags and darker circles under our eyes.  There will hopefully be even bigger smiles on our faces and space in our hearts. Where we have traveled, where we want to travel, and what we want to do with our spare time (if we have any) will all be changed from today’s reality.  The only constants I am pretty certain of is that travel will still fit in there somewhere, and the cake will still be chocolate.

The trips of yesterday may have to remain in our memories and our cameras, but Lord willing there will always be new adventures still to come.

 

Comments

  1. Enjoyed this very much. I think most of us can relate. Things can change and our plans can change with them. My husband worked many years at a job that had him working 6 days a week, 12 hour days. For many years, we barely took vacations. We now have two boys in college and one that was married this year. We own our own business and we vacation frequently (thanks to miles and points). We do plan around the boys’ college schedule, but we have a lot more freedom to go. We are kinda making up for lost time. Your daughters will be little for only a short while. Embrace it– they grow overnight. I look forward to reading many more travel stories from mommy points. By the way, you look great!

    • Kathy, perfect example of the cycles of life. I know free time and flexibility will come around again for us at some point and in the meantime we get good time with two little girls. Thanks for the nice remarks – wearing black always helps most days I look much more homeless than that. 😉

  2. Beautiful write up. I always try to enjoy the present without thinking too much about the future since the present is happening right now and the future might change in a split of a second. Never leave for tomorrow what you can do today. You never know how tomorrow will be. Enjoy your family time.

    • Thanks and you are so right about the present – the future absolutely will change, it always does.

  3. Great post!

    Life is about the journey, whether it is @the Maldives or at a staycation in Lost Pines.

  4. I’m not sure if that private dinner on an island is a “far cry” from home. 😉 I work and live in NYC and one thing I never turn down is an invite to a homemade dinner at a friend’s apt. Sure, it’s great to live a Sex in the City life or be a globetrotter around the world, but, in my opinion, a homemade meal with people who carea bout you can just be as good, if not better.
    Happy birthday to your husband!

  5. Having a baby trumps Maldives any day. Not all people get to go on that exciting journey to the maternity ward. My husband wasn’t the most excited guy to become a parent, but now when he comes home from work and his besties scream with glee, he knows there isn’t anything better. Trips will be back on your agenda in no time. I can’t believe your RTW trip was a year ago. Time flies!

  6. Agree with your sentiments. We have a similar perspective and offer this.

    Do not put things off until…….some day. Tomorrow you might be hit with an unpleasant medical diagnosis like we were last year. It will turn your whole world upside down. We had to cancel a round the world trip scheduled for just two months later. Ten years ago we started taking two big trips a year, just because we knew what surprises life has a way of lobbing in one’s path. We are so happy we did.

    Currently we have gotten through our crisis and are adjusting to a new normal. This Fall we are forging ahead with a trip to some countries new to us and returning to another all the while keeping our fingers crossed that we can deal with any eventuality.

  7. Great post! I can relate to unexpected changes. I’ve always worked demanding jobs, sometimes with long hours, and also been a high-performance Masters athlete. A year and a half ago, I was hit by a pickup truck while bicycling, and life has not been the same for me, my wife, or our son.

    I’m looking forward to the day when I can resume working and training. I’ve been able to do a little traveling as long as I schedule adequate rest time.

    Enjoy the many changes life has given you. The only thing given is that more change will come.

  8. Thank you for writing about “reality”, where most BA bloggers don’t seem to cover much (but instead offer this fantasy of traveling in First, hmm, Ben? ha)

    I can totally relate as a single-income (I’m happy I can WFH often also) with 2 kids (4, 1.5)

    Life will be different, but it will not be worse.

    Sometimes I whine about the things I should’ve, could’ve, but then sometimes I simply tell myself to think about others less fortunate, most recently people in Nepal.
    Would I care about miles/money/travel if I’m them, either lost house/family or dead? Probably not, so I should be happy, and so should you and your family

    Wishing you many HAPPY Birthdays to come in future!

  9. I can relate to your post. I had a job loss early in my career that shaped my savings strategies for the better. It was a great lesson to learn early in your working career. At 50, a medical scare changed my thinking again. Now that I am feeling better and with my children only in middle school I have ramped up our travel schedule thanks to miles and points. I want to show them the world and broaden their thinking and have them remember our times together. By reading a lot of blogs and information I have put together some great inexpensive trips we would not otherwise take. Its funny where life takes you. Thanks for the post.

  10. Super post, Summer. Thank you. As you’re growing your family with kid 2 on the way, do you have any thoughts on how pregnancy has changed your approach to travel now or when you were pregnant with Little C? How does that manifest in points? Did you accelerate certain travel and if so what recommendations for acceleration might you offer? Are there any not-so-obvious pitfalls expectant parents should consider? Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts. You’re awesome! Wishing you all the best!

  11. I think it is the honesty in your writing that really separates you from many other bloggers. Thank you for sharing all this with us. I hope that job flexibility arrives soon for your hubby, and that the new baby is one of those miracle quiet, always sleep-through-the-night babies that entertain themselves for hours. Might be wishful thinking but just putting it out there in the universe… 🙂

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