A classmate named Sarah recently told my four year-old son…
Vacation can be work. I say that because, for me, vacation brings up issues I need to work on. It starts before we even leave the house. It starts with packing a suitcase. Do I need to take dress up clothes or just casual clothes? Do I need three pair of shoes? Really? I used to be a savvy traveler. I made a pile of what I needed and then cut it in half.
Now I make a pile of what I think I need and add a bunch of other stuff as I stress about contingencies that don’t deserve a second thought. Going on vacation as a young person was easy. If something was forgotten, it wasn’t needed.
Fast forward to middle age and going on vacation is work (yes, I realize this is a petty problem.) Now I have to pack for my three year-old son, and sometimes make suggestions for my forty-something husband. Traveling with a child is a chore. But, at least we no longer need to bring a stroller and a car seat for him. Car seats can be rented with the car. Now it’s one suitcase and one carry-on per traveler. Our family is more portable this year.
You’d think vacationing would be a breeze for a seasoned traveler like me. But, there’s baggage that comes with me that is not of the Samsonite variety. The problem now is that wherever I go –there I am. My anxieties travel with me.
The security line at the airport, the possible delay of my flight, the tiny airplane seats, there are plenty of things to worry about when one travels. Whatever I choose to worry about (and let’s face it, it is a choice) the one place I will not let my mind go to is the topic of aeronautics. If I think for a second that I am trapped in a metal cylinder with 148 new friends hurtling through the sky while drinking cranberry juice and watching sitcom episodes, my mind could explode. Did I say explode?
But I’m getting better at this. If traveling with a child is a pain in the neck, it all pays off when you arrive at your destination. This time it was Mexico. Eddie couldn’t have been happier. He got to stay at a “hotel-house” and he got to ride elevators. You never know what it is that your child will cling to, what will bring him joy. Elevators bring my son joy. Watching him brings me joy. So it all works out. Life is funny that way.
My anxiety doesn’t get to call the shots so often any more. Now, I am likely to recover quickly from thoughts of real or perceived peril. I don’t worry about my dad-bod at the pool because it is so damn fun to jump in and play with my son. I don’t worry (as much) about spending money because I’m not in my twenties and my family is doing better in that regard. I don’t worry about a hateful bigot being elected president of the country that I love because…okay, maybe that’s a valid concern. But, overall, I worry less and play more. I take my cues from my son who loves to sing, swim, play – and ride on elevators.