I’ve always traveled a lot. My parents injected in me the desire to go and I don’t know if it will ever dissipate. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a homebody. I love my time around our home. But I definitely enjoy a balance of each – let’s go for a little while and experience unexpected, sometimes disastrous adventures, but then let’s return home to the sights, smells and comforts we know and love.
For the first six months of my son’s life, I went back and forth between two major philosophies with whether or not to travel with him. I read countless books (yes, I confess to being that person) that stressed the importance of “getting your baby on a schedule” and sticking to it. This instilled in me a lot of guilt anytime we weren’t on a schedule, which is pretty often. Then somehow I switched to a defiant attitude, determined to do things my way, without letting a schedule dictate my decisions, and daring any other mothers to throw a disproving glance in my direction.
Then, it happened. After about the fifth disciple-now youth weekend with Nick and his band, the perfect storm erupted. We’d been blessed previously with older youth ministers, who were also dads and always accommodating and considerate of my baby’s needs. But this church had a younger youth minister, who had yet to become a dad. Organizing his first disciple-now weekend meant that he was pretty busy with those details, and rightfully so did not have the time or any obligation to worry about the worship leader’s wife and baby. There’s no sarcasm there. That wasn’t his job, and it would be wrong for me to expect it of him or anyone else.
But I’d been spoiled. And B just so happened to be teething that weekend. And the schedule for the d-now got off-track (by about two hours). And we weren’t able to check-in to the hotel before the first service. Since the nursery and surrounding classrooms were locked, we were confined to the sanctuary. If B started being loud, I had to take him to the foyer where the door was open and the cold air was blowing in, chilling his little nose and ears (I’m being slightly dramatic – he was fine, I’m sure). He wouldn’t take a nap, and he got louder as he got more tired, and you get the idea.
Suddenly, I was all about having B on a schedule again.
As a result, I voiced the question to Nick as to whether or not we should travel with him anymore. As the shepherd of our family, Nick kindly and graciously redirected me to the reasoning behind my question. Was I asking that because I was concerned with what was best for my son, or with what was convenient for his mother?
You can guess the answer.
It’s clear that my husband desires his family to be on the road with him when at all possible. Therefore, we have determined that for this season of our life, B and I will go with him. We constantly reevaluate and ask for discernment on what is best for our family, knowing that there may come a time when it’s best for us to stay home (like when, Lord-willing, we have kid number 2, 3, 4, etc.)
But for now, staying home is not what’s best. It would simply be what’s most convenient and easiest for me.
I’m so grateful Nick wants us on the road with him, and I’m grateful we are able to go with him for now. We load up what seems like countless bags of multiple changes of clothes (for B and for me!), I nurse my child in the backseat of the excursion while the band takes a Starbucks break, keep B occupied during lengthy sound-checks, and coax him to sleep in my k’tan wrap at 11 o’clock at night while junior high kids run around from the late-night ice cream they just enjoyed.
And in the midst of it all, instead of having a wife with a baby on her hip throwing him glaring looks because it’s past her child’s bedtime, my husband is able to do ministry alongside a joyful (and sometimes loud) family – dirty diapers, used burp cloths and all. Do we always attend the services? No, when necessary, B and I retire to the hotel for naps or an early turn-in. But even on those occasions, Nick’s family is waiting for him at the end of the night. It’s important to him, and so it’s important to us.
It’s not always easy. It seldom is. But it’s the best thing for our family for the season we’re in right now, and despite the challenges, I’m always glad we go. So while we can, we go and have adventures together.
I’ll end by sharing some wisdom I sought from a mother and father of three whom I knew to travel a lot. The advice they gave continues to shape how our family views traveling with B.
For their kids, home is considered a safe, consistent place, with routines and schedules. And traveling is where the unexpected adventure lies. The kids anticipate those moments where they travel for a little bit, while always happy to return home where they know what to expect. Both are adventures. And their parents assured me that they wouldn’t trade anything for the memories they make along the way.
In the next blog I’ll share some practical tips we’ve learned for traveling with a baby, both on the road and in the air.