PTVN Days: My Cross Country Road Trip: 5 Month Daughter and Misc. Fodder
Characters: Me (Marybeth), Bruno (Husband/Dad), Adela (Daughter)
Scene: Bruno and Marybeth (6 months pregnant) sitting in the living room of their Seattle, WA home.
Marybeth: “I really don’t want to raise a daughter here. If I’m not inspired by the environment anymore, how will she be inspired?”
Bruno: “Lets move.”
And cut. Given, we actually started the conversation of moving to Florida back in 2004, but every time we visited the Sunshine State, we just didn’t connect with the areas we were exploring. Before we knew it, more opportunities sprang up in Seattle and we found ourselves in the same place, with dear friends, with good careers, uninspired by the setting that we were living in. Eight years and a sweet addition later…
Should we sell everything? Should we rent a trailer? Should we sell the car? Should one drive and the other fly? OK when do we start selling things? When do we start packing? When do we actually leave? I like to think I’m organized, but it doesn’t necessarily feel that way at times when I’ve got notes jotted down on scrap pieces of paper, some on my laptop, others on my phone – a blind move to the Space Coast required a certain intuition and pulling this trip together as new parents meant believing in it. As a side note, thank you Internet and Google Maps.
OK that photograph up there of me driving is the biggest mislead ever. My husband had a little passenger-seat-camera-fun in Colorado during the (eh-hem) 6 hours total that I drove on this trip. Much to my ongoing delight, Bruno just kept at the wheel and safely drove his family from Seattle, WA to the Space Coast, FL in five days and with just seven CD’s. Isn’t it like finding a hidden treasure when someone you’re close to surprises you with an idea, an act, some unexpressed talent…a car ride across the country?
Every baby is different. Mine is an all-natural-home-birth-sleeps-in-the-same-bed-as-parents-breastfed-at-baby’s-wish-babe. Her eyes sparkle, she has lots of personality and she is happy all the time (probably because we happen to be with her all the time…and because she’s not two yet). And isn’t that all anyone wants in life, to be loved and feel secure and have someone laugh at our jokes? We’re just like babies. Anyway, as much as I’d like to write crazy, off-the-wall dramatic renderings about traveling across country with a five month old, all I have is this picture.
…And this one. I was so impressed by the landscape of America, from Washington to Idaho to Montana to Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. I was even more impressed by the friendliness we encountered at each stop: polite smiles, eye contact, greetings and accommodating gestures. In Wyoming, as we re-packed our SUV at the hotel, a father of seven (I believe, if I counted correctly) happy children was preparing his mini-van to leave and must have noticed our play-filled exit routine: “You guys are having too much fun. I hope your whole life is like that.” I looked up from the pile of clothes I was starting to tuck into any available corner and saw a wonderful sincerity in his eyes. We thanked him and waved and I thought: I’ll remember this stranger’s words forever. And I will.
To me, a jam packed car on a road trip longer than three hours doesn’t bother at all. I grew up with five brothers and sisters who were “strongly encouraged” to enjoy the family camping trips we were “strongly encouraged” to take each and every summer. And by “strongly encouraged” I mean we didn’t have a choice. My husband, on the other hand, is an only child and clutter is not his friend. I don’t think he accepted the makeshift suitcases (garbage bags) and fancy water receptacles (beat-up bottles) and solid First Aid kit (cardboard box with anything red and white in it) that traveled in the car with us until the very day we moved into our Florida house and he saw it in the trash bins. Freedom.
Speaking of freedom, we had total confidence taking our 5 month old on a cross country road trip primarily because I breastfeed, and feeding a baby is kind of important. It’s the easiest thing in the world: her food comes in cute packaging, it’s mobile, always available and there’s no clean up required. She gets a perfect meal every time. My favorite memories are of Adela responding to the warm breezes in Colorado and Texas as we moved south, stopping here and there for some blanket time. I can’t say that from day one of her birth we were mesmerized with each other every time she nursed, like in the magazines – it definitely didn’t feel like bonding right around week six when I was tired and sore and looking for any creme that could possibly bring relief…but after that short “toughening up” few days, I found myself experiencing the pure awesomeness of being a woman, realizing what my body is intended for during this time as Adela gains my immune system and receives complete nourishment – she’s so healthy and strong. And what do I do but eat my avocados and the occasional slice of pizza.
This was a trip of all trips. I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to travel across country by car again with such gusto and vision. Looking through the photos from May 2012, Adela has already grown so much and is almost 7 months old. What parent has time to sit and reminisce anyway. I’m typing this late at night during “after Adela hours” and like so many parents, investing my time and energy to see returns in curious ways. Like this: here she is delighted by the taste of wind. She responded to wind on this trip as if it was a gourmet cupcake wrapped in gold with a side of gold. As if it was the most exotic taste in the world, the taste of tickling. Curious. It brought laughter and with that laughter a memory, and with that memory, the exact bit of energy I needed to complete some work tonight. It’s the curious case of physical endurance and love, this thing called parenthood.
About: MB is Director of Communications at Parent Network. Her commitment to communications on global care is cultivated …