To say I was nervous to get on a flight with my 18-month old daughter last week would be the understatement my life.
You see, my daughter has this scream...not like your typical “Oh a baby is crying” scream, it’s more of a “Is someone killing that baby?” scream. So when I say nervous, I mean - If I was a nail biter, I would not only be missing all of my nails right now, but my fingers as well.
During take-off she was all smiles, but once we were above the clouds she started to cry, scream, and refuse any toy I give her while hitting the flight attendant button on the armrest as if it were a panic button.
This whole thing repeated itself for the entire 8 hour flight. That’s right, my daughter didn’t sleep a wink, but instead turned into a complete psychopath.
However, when we finally landed, I felt a sense of accomplishment (and a shit-ton of exhaustion) because I had weathered the storm and survived. I said to husband “the worst is over, - now vacation.”
Ah, vacation. You know, that thing you do before you have kids that’s super relaxing?
Yeah. So funny thing - it turns out that the parents of toddlers don’t belong to the vacation club.
Because when you are traveling abroad with a mini tasmanian devil you're not seeking fun nightlife, you're trying to survive the sleepless nights of transferring your daughter back and forth between your hotel bed and her hotel crib.
By the third day of our vacation, I felt more exhausted than I did at home working a full-time job. The lack of sleep, the failed expectation of relaxation and the constant wondering if I was creating bad habits by allowing my daughter to sleep in our bed was weighing hard on me and come the third evening, I broke down to my husband.
I told him how much I hated that while on vacation all I could think about is being home, where my daughter slept through the night and I felt more rested. I shared how I was fearful about letting her sleep in the bed with us, scared that when we returned home she would expect to be able to continue to do it.
Thankfully, my husband turned to me and said “I think you just need to change your perspective. You see, I don’t look at our daughter laying next to us in bed as a habit being formed, I see it as an opportunity to enjoy our baby lying next to us. And I don’t care about relaxing here, I care that we get to hang out all day together as a family.”
It’s often said that perception is everything and in that moment I knew just how true that statement is. For the first three days of my vacation I had been so caught up in future outcomes that I wasn’t being present in this moment with my family.
It turned out that vacation didn’t have to be about relaxation. It didn’t have to be about crazy nights or eating at the best restaurants. It had to do with having the opportunity to spend every day of every minute with the characters in my story that make my life worth living. It had to do with the people, not the place.
So that night, I flipped the switch on my perspective. And you know what? It turned into the most rejuvenating vacation I’ve ever had, not because I was showered with relaxation - but because I was filled up with love.