Traveling always felt like the key to unlocking a secret that the whole world was in on except me. A sense of mystery and discovery just a plane ride away. At least it did before I became a mom. Now it fills me with dread as the laundry-list of to-dos before I go gets bigger and bigger and guilt of leaving my son sets in.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work in an industry that’s taken me to many places throughout the years. Even before I “had to” travel for work, I made it a point to travel as often as I could. My sans-kid travel prep consisted of researching the destination’s weather patterns, planning off-the-beaten-track activities and practicing the most efficient packing methods weeks before my trip. Now, I’m lucky if I have enough clean laundry to fill a carry-on.
See, it’s not only the prep for the actual trip that rests on my shoulders now, but for the household while I’m gone. And more specifically, my son. To make sure he has enough clean clothes, meals prepped, diapers bought, wipes plentiful and doctor’s updated. But the biggest check box before I leave is to soak him in as much as possible. Whether I’m gone for two nights or two weeks I dread leaving him just the same. A wave of melancholy rushes over me days before my temporary departure as I give him his baths and rock him to sleep.
I just don’t want to leave him. Not for a week. Not for a day. Not ever. There’s something about traveling that confronts how fleeting these moments are between us. It shines a spotlight on my eventual obligation to let go. And I know that day is a long ways away. He’s two, but packing up and making sure he’s armed with what he needs while I’m away serves as a metaphor for the ultimate duty as a parent-preparing them for life without you. And it just makes me sad.
I still love to travel and I’m still lucky enough to do it often. Trust me, the privilege of getting away for a bit with the possibility of sleeping-in is not lost on me, even if it is for work. And while my IG feed may be filled with all my filtered-transient discoveries temporarily, permanently all I want is selfies with this guy forever…