whoops – got caught up in work stuff. Sorry for the delayed post all 6 of you reading! 😉
I haven’t been on a real vacation in a long time. Yes, I’ve traveled – the Boy and I did long weekends in Richmond, Denver, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and New York City last year. But a long weekend is not the same as a proper vacation. Especially when you’re spending a chunk of that time travelling back and forth from your destination. The shortest of these journeys was the 2 hours to Richmond by car, and even then, it took up a chunk of the day we did our travelling. So yeah – the last time I took a nice long trip was…more than a year ago, and it was our Galapagos honeymoon. Every moment of vacation time since then was saved up and spent on something very important, but not quite as freeing, and that was our sweet baby.
Granted, we did do a few road trips after baby girl arrived – we did an overnight near Baltimore to have dinner with some of the Boy’s work colleagues, visited my grandmother in Syracuse, and were in Central Virginia for a weekend to see Ben and Nicole get married. But none of those were really vacations in the traditional sense. Syracuse was probably the closest to it, because we had no specific duties except to show off the baby. So for the past year I haven’t had the chance to have real time off in a row and feel relaxed and carefree.
And no – maternity leave doesn’t count. It’s not a vacation, especially the way it ends up being done in America. For those first weeks and months, you’re really just surviving and getting used to having a little person who needs you constantly. By the time you are comfortable with breastfeeding, with getting enough sleep, leaving the house for more than an hour at a time, it’s time to go back to work, and chances are that you won’t have any personal leave remaining (at least I didn’t – more power to mommies whose jobs give paid maternity leave and don’t have to use any of their own time). So you can see how easy it would be to not have taken time away for yourself in a year.
We’ve got some travel planned for later in the summer, but it’s still weeks away at this point. And it’s going to gobble up every last minute of paid leave that I will have earned for myself by that point PLUS some hours on leave without pay since that’s just how things will go. And I’m aching for that time away. Baby girl is at the point where taking her to things can be fun and easy, and I want nothing more than for all of us to have a block of time with nothing pressing on the schedule to spend fun time together. To see new things and explore the world. I want to go hiking, and see new cities, and explore museums.
It has gotten to the point that I have hazily scheduled plans for each spring or summer for our family for the next 5 years. That’s right, we’re talking plans through 2024. All the places that we’re thinking of are ones where we either have family or where it would be easy and fun to travel with a small child. It gives me such joy to think about showing the world to Baby B, and giving her the opportunity to say that she has been places and explored things from a very young age. She may not have memories with a lot of the places that we are planning on going, but she’ll be able to look back at pictures of herself and say, “I was there!” and potentially add that place as one to revisit when she’s an adult (something I definitely did on a trip with my sister from a few years back). And it will change her for the better, even if she doesn’t remember.
Sure, planning and “scheduling” trips that may change, or won’t be quite I am imagining now is a silly thing to do. But it’s also making me happier (which has been shown by studies). Anticipating a vacation makes you happier than you would be otherwise – a potentially longer stretch of happiness than you would get when returning from a perfectly restful and relaxing trip. So yes – it’s a little silly to plan so far in advance, to daydream about travel that may or may not take place. But if I’m adding to my happiness even a little bit my imagining those futures for myself and my family, why not?
So – when was the last time you took a real vacation? And are you happily planning your next trip? Where to? Let me know in the comments!