I thought my first reflection on a mother’s work would be about you know, my pregnancy, the trimesters, labour…general things about adjusting to my new life as a mommy.
Instead, I find myself reflecting on expectations and compromise; on how to navigate staying true to myself, while at the same time being considerate and understanding of the person with whom I share a child.
My little guy wasn’t an accident. My partner and I wanted a child, we wanted parenthood, and we wanted it together. Before our baby came along we talked about values, and how we saw ourselves and each other as parents, but we didn’t talk about travel. Yes, travel.
When I met my guy, it was very clear that travel is and always will be a major part of my life (before I met him I had just returned from a summer of travel in Asia). During my pregnancy, I didn’t stop talking about how this baby of ours was going to travel the world…literally, on my back! I was sure that during my maternity leave, baby and I (and hopefully my partner) would take a trip or two. “When will Mommy and baby take their first trip?”, that was one of the questions during a game of BINGO at my baby shower. Everyone knows, mommy and baby traveling….together…it is inevitable.
Travel is an integral part of my being. I’ve been spoiled. Without it, I can begin to feel stagnant. I begin to itch, literally. I’ve been traveling since I was a baby, I guess you could say I was born to travel. But really, the bug bit me in high school, with my first major international trip to the Netherlands with my school band; it (the travel bug) took hold of me and has never let go. Since then, I’ve travelled near and far on a yearly basis. And had…have rather, every intention of doing so postpartum. And why not? Why would I stop traveling because I now have a baby? Do I stop breathing, moving or eating now that I have a baby? No, of course not. Those actions are imperative to life. And for me, so is travel. It’s fuel for my soul. After a trip, anywhere, I gain new perspective on myself, others, the world around me. Even if tired upon my return, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to conquer the everyday.
My baby is part of my everyday and I love every minute of it. Where I go, he goes. Literally. Since December 31st at 1:26 am we’ve been pretty inseparable. And herein lies the tricky part. I share my baby with someone else, he isn’t completely all mine.
My partner and I must agree or compromise when it comes to differing opinions about our baby. This is a real problem for me because, 1. I’m not used to having to answer to anybody, and 2. as I’ve made clear…I must travel and I will not travel without him, my baby. My partner thinks otherwise. “International travel isn’t for a baby.”, he states. “Let’s wait for when he’s not so fussy.” he says. What to do? How does one compromise? Life doesn’t stop when you have a baby, it literally keeps going, full force and you’ve got to figure out how to adapt to it. I’ve got to adapt, I understand this. And so does my partner. But again, I must travel. There’s no compromise in this. Is there?
My travel will have to adapt…but travel, I will. With my baby on my back. I try not to live my life waiting for perfect moments to act, to live…and have no intention of starting to do that now. There is no perfect time to see and share the world with a baby. So why wait, especially when tomorrow is not guaranteed. Especially when he travels for free, now! I want to fulfill my travel needs and desires with the other part of me, my baby. I want to foster in him a love for people, new sights and experiences near and far. There’s no magic age for this. As a teacher, I know this. As a lover of life, I live this. Baby boy has been learning, and growing and developing since conception. There’s no pause button on this, we’re already in play mode.
With all this being said, my baby and I are taking our first international trip together to Jamaica this summer, to visit family and get a change of scenery. This trip was in motion before I realized my partner and I were not on the same page regarding babies traveling with their parent(s). But what of future trips? What do we do? How do we decide? How do we compromise? This issue of travel with my little guy is not yet resolved and I never would have expected it to be a problem. That was my mistake, I guess. Expectations. In some respect, you have to have them, but at the same time…if you never have them, you’ll never be disappointed. Expect nothing – this is my first reminder, my first lesson as a new mom…my first lesson in a mother’s work.