Saturday, 15 June 2013

Planes, Trains and Strollers

"SIT DOWN!!!" I hiss at the squirming baby in my lap. We only have about 45 minutes left in our four-and-a-half hour flight, but this baby is done. Bored of the plane, tired of sitting and generally overwrought, the kid will not stop moving for even a millisecond. My arms are tired from trying to restrain her from climbing over the seat in front of me. For a 20-pound baby, she's surprisingly strong.

We're on our way home from Vancouver. My husband had to go to a conference there, and I thought it would be a nice change of pace for the kids and I to join him. For four days, while my husband attended the conference, I pushed my girls around in their stroller and explored the city.

Travelling with young children isn't easy. One of them, if not both, was often hungry or tired or bored—I had to bring along an arsenal of toys and diapers and snacks for even short excursions. Coordinating naps was a challenge: the baby still naps in the morning and in the afternoon, while the preschooler naps midday. We definitely missed out on the night life, because we had to get the kids to sleep at a reasonable hour so they wouldn't be monsters the next day. And the time change really messed them up: that first day, they woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 3:30 a.m. and could not be persuaded to go back to sleep, despite the fact that it was still pitch-black outside.

But you know what? We had fun. I took the girls to Granville Island Market, and I let the preschooler go on every ride and play every game in the Kids Market. We went to the aquarium, and I saw the excitement on both of their faces as they put their little hands up against the tank to watch the huge brightly coloured fish swimming by. We shopped on Robson Street, and we strolled around Gastown and Yaletown. In the evenings, when my husband could join us, we ate meals on patios and drank local wine and enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere. 

My husband and I travelled a lot before our children were born, and we're not willing to give that up because it's more work now. Sure, the preschooler was whiny and obstinate at times; yes, the baby had a couple of meltdowns. But it's good for them to experience different people and places. And we're willing to pay the price of a few tantrums in order to keep doing something we love.

We're not going to stop travelling just because we have kids. Although maybe next time, we'll opt for somewhere in the same time zone.

Monday, 10 June 2013

So I'm 37

Saturday was my birthday. Despite my desire to be 29 (again), I'm actually 37: firmly on the road towards 40 and leaving my carefree twenties even further behind. Here's what turning 37 means to me:

1. I'm getting older, even if I don't feel it. One rather alarming aspect of having kids is that they force you to confront your own aging. My baby will turn one in about a month's that means I must also be a year older. How did that happen? I've noticed an alarming trend: now, when I pick up a People magazine, I have no idea who most of the celebrities are. And from what I hear, it just gets worse, to the point where you can't follow popular music or keep up with the toys or electronics your kids want. Rather a discouraging prospect for a "29-year-old."

2. I could have more kids, but I most likely won't. Everyone says, "Wait until your littlest one is walking, and you'll want another baby." Possibly...but right now, I just don't see it. Let's face it: I'm no spring chicken anymore. And I'm not sure I want to bring any more babies into a world where Snooki is talking about having another kid. However, there's a bittersweetness in knowing that this is it for us: my family is complete.

3. I'm not going to have any real "me" time or personal space for a long time. Young children are needy—really needy. I can't remember the last time I sat down for dinner and ate a full meal without getting up twenty times to respond to requests for ketchup/milk/utensils or to stop the baby from destroying something. And there's no concept of privacy in our house. I've been told that when your kids get older, it's possible to go away for a weekend or take a trip without them. I eagerly await that day.

4. I'm going to continually struggle to find work/life balance. I am both anticipating and dreading going back to work. On the one hand, I'll get to do many exciting things. Wear pants with zippers! Drink a coffee with no one climbing into my lap! Talk to other grownups! On the other hand, I'll have to leave my little spider monkey to fend for herself in daycare. We're both probably going to cry. And I am not looking forward to juggling the daily routine of mealtimes, sleep times and daycare pickups and drop-offs with two kids. It's not going to be easy. But here's the thing...

5. I'll figure it out. Don't tell anyone, but I've basically been making up this parenting thing as I go along. Maybe the wisdom and experience of my 37 years will help me to get better at it. Or maybe I'll just keep muddling through.

Either way, here's hoping for another 37 years to practice.