Fly Away With Me

I don’t often fly with my kids. When I travel, I’m most frequently boarding an airplane for work so that I can visit a client in another city.

But there’s something about being at the airport and watching those exhausted, stressed and strung-out parents with one or more freaking out children in tow that makes me—somehow—wish that I were experiencing my currently uneventful and comparatively stress-free travel with my own two sons.

Typically, any travel experiences with my kids culminates in the convincing decision that I will never, ever, travel with my boys again.

Then, when I’m back to again traveling solo, I find myself looking at these wrecked parent-child units and yearning for the chaotic, sometimes frustrating presence of my own offspring.

There’s probably a broader observation to make about parenting here. How before kids my mood could be altered by some (admittedly) trivial inconvenience whereas now the energy available for self-flagellation is no longer accessible because I’ve already spent that energy parenting.

Having children is a constant pull and push that singes the emotional receptors of your being every day until you collapse in bed at night exhausted, fulfilled and regretful. It’s the regret that is, for me, the most pervasive of parenting-hangover emotions. Regret that I didn’t get more time with them, regret that I didn’t appreciate their attention while I had it, regret that I didn’t do better.

Back and There Again: If You're a Hobbit and You Know It, Clap Your Hands

Traveling with children sucks. Traveling by car with children sucks more. Traveling over two thousand miles by car with children sucks the most.

The above is mostly tongue-in-cheek because, of course, how could driving through five states in a week’s time with a two-year-old and a six-year-old not be a grueling challenge? And all told, both kids did a solid job of keeping their shit together for what turned out to be a hell of a lot of hours staring out the minivan’s windows.

Unlike my wife, who has a traveler’s spirit and is invigorated by the life-disruption, I journey roughly. My comfort zone demands that I remain in one spot long enough to seep around the edges until I feel I've learned the character of the place. This slow accretion approach doesn’t lend itself well to travel, where you blast past and through locations, glimpsing only the briefest of exposures to an elsewhere life blurred by a spectrum of sensory stimuli.

I want to be a better traveler. I want to give myself over to the present and now-ness of it. Much like my wife does.  

Observing my children adapt to the demands of travel—to go from barely being able to endure a half hour car ride to managing a six hour driving day—encourages me. If their high maintenance needs can stretch and flex, than perhaps mine can, as well.