I cried on a train to London once.. or was it Edinburgh, does it even matter? I tried to hide it from my tot and husband but I was so overwhelmed, hot, tired and hungry. Those stingy tears that combined with the sweat streams from my forehead were winning and I couldn’t stop them. We barely made it on the train and I had yanked and hurried my son to keep up before we missed it. I felt awful and he of course kept up quietly like he always does. When a nice lady gave up her seat for us, I sat down and was overwhelmed with emotion. My son laid on my chest and I apologized to him as the train jerked us and began it’s journey. This explosion of feelings reminded me of the first few weeks as a mom when I would deflate every emotion that I had at the end of the day like tiny tight knotted balloons in my body releasing all at once. Then I would cry. Sometimes it was self doubt and other times it was the feeling of anxiety as my body would reset itself for the next few hours. This time it was on a train abroad and I was throwing a tantrum so deep, deep, deep inside myself that I would imagine no one had notice but me.
Traveling with a child isn’t easy and I don’t think anyone who has done it will argue that. If we had missed that train it wouldn’t have been the end of the world but it would have definitely been tough with a toddler in tow. Waiting in lines or running with gear is stressful enough but adding a tot in the mix…you get it right? Expecting the worse comes a long way and being prepared is key. The main thing that you have to go ahead and accept is that your little one(s) is going to come first. Is that fair? Yes, it absolutely is. It’s a child for crying out loud and you are the adult and absolutely nothing is going to change that. Their needs are always going to come first and that will probably catch up with you. Whether on a train to a beautiful city or the hotel room at the end of the day, you will feel exhausted and tired and if you are a baby crier like me…you’ll most likely shed a tear or two. This is all okay because that means you are one step closer to finding a balance and tomorrow will be a new adventure where you remind yourself that you got this.
If your child is screaming in a confined space just remember, your child comes first! Give them the understanding they need and go ahead and forgive yourself for everything you’re about to yell in your head about the situation. Everyone else that may be uncomfortable can suffer through until you can soothe your child. If your kid is a chaos bomb in stores or other public places just remember, they come first. Give them the attention they are so desperately needing even if that means you are in front of the Eiffel Tower and all you want to do is take it in but instead are calming a child who doesn’t even know why they are crying in the first place. The understanding and time that we give our children without worrying about everyone else will be significant to the next moment of the day…for both of you. Your child has every reason to be cranky and will need you more than ever. You get be the hero even if you yourself will have a cry at the end of the day. It’s your tot vs everyone and your tot needs to win.
Here’s the thing, traveling is about soaking in the moment and experience. We all do that differently and you should never have to defend your style of travel. When we were in London we rode on top of one of those Big Red Buses to tour the city. As we approached the most historic landmarks my eyes would get big and quickly turn to my husband and tot. Why did I do that? Why didn’t I just take it in and be selfish for once? Well the answer seems kind of obvious, I wanted to see the look on my loved one’s faces as they also get to see these enormous sights. Abe was only 2 and a big old clock or old church meant zero to him but the other bus passing by was amazing and the water under the bridge we were crossing was “so cool”. The look on his face was of amazement, he literally was growing in front of my eyes. Every new sight was developing new emotions or words. How can I trade spending 30 more seconds of staring at Big Ben vs the memory of my tot exclaiming “wow” to the birds passing by? I can’t and I won’t. This is a very small example of how and why he comes first and sights come second. It actually takes me back to when I was 16yrs old and on a school trip to Italy & Greece. I worked very hard to pay for the trip and kept a journal of all the times we laughed or fought or got in trouble and there may have been a time or two that I mentioned a famous building or statue. I’ll be back one day and really soak in those sights but living in that moment is so much more important to me. Don’t get me wrong I want to see it all but man, it’s so much cooler doing so with people I love and if I have to sacrifice a picture or a cool museum for them, I will.
So back to that mini tantrum on the train.. am I that much different than my son who is also exhausted and hungry but is managing to keep it together while I held him and cried. He truly puts up with me as much as I do him and sometimes he is my reminder that we will be okay. Sometimes I think to him it’s: mom vs everyone ever. Oh and I have not forgotten the patience of my dear poor husband who has to put up with both of us emotional beings. Poor guy, he is our hero and so much more. My purpose in sharing these intimate moments isn’t to prove that I have anymore knowledge than anyone else, my purpose is to share what is possible when so many opinions are against it. Almost on a daily basis do I overhear the nightmare trips that haven’t even happened yet. It’s courage and outlook of the journey not the negatives that will get you through the trying times. The good times will come even when you are purely exhausted and your tot is wielding his plastic sword at his reflection of the mirrors in the elevator or watching some strange foreign cartoon at the end of day that’s making him crack up (props to Horrid Harry). Don’t be terrified of traveling- be confident in knowing that it’s going to be hard and plans will go wrong and ultimately, you will all be okay.