When my daughter firmly decided at about nine months old that she was done breastfeeding, I told my husband, "All right then, let's go on vacation!" (Any mom knows that a vacation with a pump in tow, especially Walt Disney World, is not a vacation.) Traveling has always been important to us, and became even more so when I changed careers to the travel industry six years ago. We knew having a baby would slow us down for awhile (and we are okay with that) but we like to make the most of the vacation time we do have, and for now continue to leave her behind when we travel.
I've read plenty of post responses regarding vacationing sans kiddos from the sanctimonious mommies in the Facebook group I have since ceased participating in - one mom proudly (proudly?) declared that she had never left her children overnight once...and they were like 7 and 10! Her tone and continued comments implied that she was obviously a better mom than any others in the group, specifically because she has never been apart from her children. This promptly got an eye roll from yours truly. I love being a mom more than anything, but before I was "mama" I was a wife for eight years, and "just Stephanie" for twenty seven before that. This alone time, and this couple time, is crucial to my sanity and the strengthening of our foundation for the family. For us, knowing our daughter is with family who love her, care for her, and give her the time of her life, is all we need to know. In another year or so, we will start taking her along for family vacations, and I hope one day when she is older she remembers the amazing adventures we shared together. For now, it's adults-only.
My husband and I didn't even hesitate to plan our first vacation together post-baby: Walt Disney World for five nights (six, if you count dropping the baby off the day before at the grandparents') was an incredible time, full of laughter, delicious meals, and absolute fun.
Our second post-baby vacation was shorter - just a little four-night getaway to Mexico (again, five nights if you count our pre-vacation night without child). My husband was sick while we were there and I was in pain and still healing from a horrific back injury, but we made the most of it. We still connected, talked, laughed, and just enjoyed being at a new-to-us resort together. The sunshine and blue sky weren't too bad either.
Now here we are, getting ready to celebrate our tenth anniversary, and we are heading out on another vacation, this one a little longer. We'll be leaving behind our little one once again, and now that she's older, the following will make our nine nights away easier on everyone.
- remember to pack the bedtime crew! This includes Baby Goldberger, Reindeer, Marshmallow, Charlotte, and now also Pink Kitty (who my husband has named "Dirty Kitty" following a recent trip to Aldi). Our kid went from a gal who couldn't care less about stuffed animals to one who loves having her squad around when it gets dark. Basically, these guys get their own tote bag now.
- pack special foods and snacks. My mom is amazing at having all sorts of great eats and treats on hand for our daughter (we are vegan) but I like to ease this burden on her by supplying some food. This includes boxes of mac and cheese, granola bars, cereal bars, mandarin oranges, Silk brand yogurt, and vegan General Tso's chicken from Whole Foods.
- keep with her routine. She goes to daycare twice a week, so she will continue that while we're gone. She loves "school" and it gives the grandparents a little break during the week.
- check in with FaceTime. Because we miss her face and hearing her little toddler voice saying her funny toddler things when we're away. I am with my daughter a great deal, so FaceTime with her still feels novel to me, and I love hearing her yell, "Mommy!"
- not worry. I don't worry for a second when we're away because we know our daughter is in amazing hands. I focus on where I am, and on my husband. Our time is precious, and so important as we continue to forge this life together. It doesn't matter that we've been at it for a decade - it's still important.
One day when our daughter is older, we will show her photos of us on vacation, laughing and enjoying one another so much. We will show her the photos of her having fun with Papa and Grammie. We will tell her we hope she finds someone she wants to spend as much time with as her dad and I do with one another.
Parents - enjoy! Go celebrate your love and life together. Your child will be fine.
Toast parenthood over a margarita.
You've earned it.