I am eating chicken nuggets in Indianapolis, feeling sorry for myself.
Now that I have children, this is what qualifies as a vacation.
How did it come to this?
Just five years ago, in my pre-mom life, my vacations involved adventure: scuba diving in Australia, climbing ruins in Guatemala, biking through the Canadian Rockies. Dinners were leisurely and wine-filled. I slept and read. Sometimes, I spent a day (and hundreds of dollars) at a shi-shi spa.
If my husband and I turned in early for the night, it wasn’t because we were exhausted.
When the kids came along, I assumed our traveling would resume. We’d just carry the baby, a bottle and a diaper bag along.
I know, I know.
Now, money and time have never been so tight. My exhaustion level, from working full-time and raising a 4- and a 2-year-old, hovers between extremely high and someone-call-an-ambulance.
So pardon me if scuba diving in Thailand seems a little daunting at the moment.
It’s impossible not to be a little resentful about this new reality. I frequently mourn my pre-mom travel life. I still travel, but I’m carrying 800 bags, car seats, a stroller, diapers, toys and snacks. I have to stop mid-activity to change diapers and allow for naps.
I’m thrifty (thanks, $26,000 a year daycare!).
Here’s the kicker, though, and it’s something that hit me by surprise: these kiddie vacations aren’t always so bad. Actually, they’ve been an eye-opening kind of fun.
A big part of it is that when the kids have fun, I have fun. To see them stare up at the arch in St. Louis, or to ask questions about Abraham Lincoln while standing in front of his house, gives me the feeling that they’re having an adventure. They’re learning.
And I am being a fantastic mom. *golf claps*
Even a weekend in land-locked Indianapolis was kinda fun, despite the chicken nuggets, because they have a fantastically cool children’s museum and zoo, and at night, we had the hotel’s indoor pool to ourselves.
Same with the City Museum in St. Louis – a treasure I would have otherwise missed, if not for the kids, because I couldn’t climb, canoe or scuba dive through it.
There are people, I’m told, who still successfully globe trot with a toddler in tow. (“They sleep most of the time!” or “If I give them a coloring book or a DVD, they’re fine!”).
This, unfortunately, will not be me.
My adventure travel life will have to wait, at least until I can be away from the kids for more than three days without going out of my mind missing them (another thing I never anticipated).
For now, at least, rain forests, mountains and barrier reefs will be replaced by indoor pools, zoos and children’s museums. At least until they’re a little older.
For now, we’ll take trips to the places I went as a kid growing up in Chicago – like Holland, Mich, the Wisconsin Dells and the Corn Palace.
We’ll take short car and plane trips to visit family and friends in places like Kansas City and Newark, N.J. – places I’d have never gone when I was in adventure travel mode.
Is it really so bad?