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Getting ready to travel, or actually being on a trip feels normal for us. We have decreased the frequency of travel for our family by a pretty hefty margin in the last several months, but it still feels totally normal to have something planned for the near or at least medium term horizon. In fact, it feels so normal that I often don’t ever put my suitcase fully away since it is usually a pretty short period of time until I get it back out and load it up again. Maybe that’s not normal for the world at large, but it is our routine and our version of normal.
Over the weekend we went on a quick getaway that started a little rocky, but turned out to be a great couple of days of family time in the sun. Stay tuned for a full review as the Phoenician (SPG Luxury Collection) was a really fun resort for families!
I didn’t think about it much while we were in Arizona since we were too busy playing, but the reality is that the trip was booked knowing it would be the last time we traveled as a family of three before our second girl arrives this summer. We squeezed the trip in basically to help tide us over until we were again able to take to the skies and explore. We squeezed it in to try and carve out a couple more fun memories with just our first daughter. We squeezed it in knowing it won’t be “that easy” to pick up and go again for quite a while. We squeezed it in because we don’t fully know what travel and our family will look like next.
I’d like to say I’m 100% confident that I’ll be one of those moms that mere weeks after the baby is born will be putting on my old “normal clothes” and tossing the infant in a baby carrier to continue on like nothing has changed, but I don’t know that. We didn’t travel for 11 months after C was born, largely because of some of her early health issues and the toll it also took on us. We lived in a fog for almost a year, and travel anywhere other than to grandparents to get a little extra help for a night or two didn’t sound fun or feasible in the slightest.
There were amazing moments in it to be sure, but overall the first year of C’s life wasn’t our favorite year, and as evident by the spacing of our children, you can see we weren’t overly eager to repeat that level of worry, stress, and chaos in our lives. Of course, she thankfully outgrew her early issues and became an amazingly fun and wonderful kid. Slowly we realized that having another baby is just a phase on the way to having another amazing kid. The baby stage, even if it is really hard, is just a passing stage and not an end goal by itself. This sounds overly obvious, but it’s hard to remember that when the infant stage is really tough and seemingly never ending.
Hopefully for everyone involved, especially for our second daughter, her first year of life will be much easier and comfortable than C’s was. Maybe we will have one of those chill and happy babies that people claim exist, but that we have never experienced. We certainly aren’t just assuming we will have a chill and happy little one we can toss in a carrier and carry-on, though our fingers are crossed.
Because of all of that, when it came time to settle in for the flight home to Houston after the weekend was over it kind of hit me. Since becoming pregnant I had been on 11 trips, taken 28 flights, and gone to 4 countries, but entering the 8 month of pregnancy I was ready to be grounded. Flying in small coach seats wasn’t comfortable at all anymore, I was acutely aware that babies don’t always wait for their due dates to come into the world, and it was time to fully get ready for this next phase for our family a bit closer to home.
The impending arrival of a baby is exciting of course, but it’s also a little sad in a nostalgic sort of way. For 5 1/2 years I’ve had one little traveling buddy who has grown into her own person. Things are now easy with her, and we get to primarily focus on fun while traveling instead of just spending our energy on logistics like carriers, diapers, bottles, naps, etc. As we were all plugged into our own electronics flying home I laughed to my husband and said enjoy the movie because odds are we won’t all just be plugged in and zoned out on a flight for a long time to come! He looked at me like I was a crazy person, but I know it’s true.
Traveling with a baby can be rewarding, but it’s also a decent amount of work (at least while they are awake). Traveling with a toddler is sometimes even more challenging in terms of keeping them entertained and (quietly) engaged. We won’t have such a simple flight with our whole family again for some time to come.
So as we flew home I was a little sad knowing that chapter in our family’s book is ending. I was a little excited knowing a brand new chapter was about to start. I was a little scared having no idea what the next few pages would look like, but mostly I was grateful. I was grateful to have had so made so many amazing travel memories with C in just a few short years.
With some luck we will be able to build more memories with both of our girls both close to home and in lands far away. It may take a few years to get back into a groove that is comfortable for us, but we’ll get there. In the meantime, we’ll just have to try a bit harder to make some things work. Who knows, maybe we’ll even have one of those laid-back babies that I’ve read about in fairy tales.
Either way, I am now grounded by choice. I’m grounded literally from any more flying, and I’m grounded in soaking up this moment and in my home. I’ll certainly return to the skies and traveling adventures, but this next adventure is going to happen much closer to home.