Monday, June 29, 2015

Travel: Like Writing

Bruges, Belgium. 
 On a Wednesday evening a few weeks ago, Nick and I left Emaline with my parents and boarded a plane to Amsterdam. As the trip neared, I received one of two questions: "Are you excited?" or "Are you scared to leave Emaline?" I have never been good at answering questions of this type. The honest response is trickier than expected so I just say "yes."

Emaline carried my picture in her pocket the day before I came home.
I thought about not going. I allowed waves of guilt and fear to follow me around. I polled friends and family expecting somebody to tell me what I wanted to hear. I looked at my child and knew that I would not see anything in this world as wonderful as her little face. I could not imagine being away from her for six days because we are always together and I don't want to miss even a minor change. It happens so quick. But as I lifted her from my shoulder and placed her in bed, I thought about how I wanted her to see me.

I paused the fear and the judgement and just focused on her and I. And I realized that I need to give her the best version of myself. And for me, part of that is travel.

I recently read Yes Please  and the words that stick with me are, "good for you, not for me." How I parent is not the same as how you parent. How I live my life is not the same as you live your life. And that's totally cool! I need to stop trying to meet some invisible expectation. When I let go of public perception, decisions are much simpler. The answer: Travel, like writing, makes me better. The same reason that I went, might be the same reason that another parent chooses to stay.

Nick and I are both a little better after an adventure than the version of ourselves who began. We push ourselves to new places, collect experiences, and step out of routine to look at a shiny new world.

And like that, the fear settled. It did not go away, but I was able to package it up and stow it beneath my seat. I still cried on the way to the airport and I still felt a knot in my chest whenever a small child passed us on the streets of Europe. But as our train rolled through the Belgian countryside I felt light. I took in the beauty of the area and thought about telling Emaline all about this when she gets a little older.  


A real Belgian waffle
New Flemish friends in Bruges, Belgium