“Road-tripping with a newborn? You’re so brave!” Me? Courageous? Perhaps. […]
“Road-tripping with a newborn? You’re so brave!” Me? Courageous? Perhaps. I believe in being fearless enough to keep my heart open, my work honest, and my future inspired. But these people calling me brave? They know nothing of my thoughts on character or my tendency toward vulnerability. All the innkeeper and the maître d’ and the tour guide know is that I’m driving from Niagara Falls to Maine with a newborn.
“We don’t take babies m’a’m. Thing is, babies are very noisy.” Ummm, OK, but so is my husband watching a Packers game and my mom talking over the blow-dryer and my sister singing in the shower. But OK, OK, no babies. I get it. We aren’t welcome, and I won’t force it: There is literally no room at your inn.
That reply came from the first bed-and-breakfast I tried to book for our trip, and so I knew, from the get-go, that our family vacation would be a true adventure in parenthood. That pre-trip conversation hinted that a successful vacation would require humor, grace and a whole lot of teamwork. But bravery? Bravery never once crossed my mind.
Max traveled 1,000 miles—visiting New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine—but it wasn’t because my husband and I are brave. No, we took our son on a road trip because we’re a family that believes in building tight bonds by making memories together.
And the memories? Worth every snide comment and disapproving glare. I listened to Jon entertain Max with silly jokes and sips of milk and Santa Claus impressions as we cruised down the Massachusetts Turnpike. Jon and I watched, together, as Max glowed when he saw the ocean for the very first time. And that huge gummy smile? It came back when our babe swam around the hotel jacuzzi tub, like a king in a private ocean.
True, taking our little guy made some things more difficult, but the extra effort was (and almost always is) #worthit. If you’re considering your own road-trip, I’ve got three tips:
1) Start working out now because things are about to get p-h-y-s-i-c-a-l. At home, you know where to go with the babe and the stroller, but a new environment brings tricky situations. You’ll probably end up carrying the stroller up stairwells and through rainstorms (or maybe you’ll have better luck than we did) and wondering, time and again, why don’t more places have elevators? Could someone please pave the streets? Maybe a stranger wouldn’t mind pushing this carriage for a bit?
2) Prepare to get comfy at rest stops: It’s well-known that baby will have a blow-out as soon as you enter the highway. Chances are high that baby will want a bottle once his diaper is clean. You will, inevitably, cross the country at a snail-like pace.
3) Handle snide remarks with grace, and laugh about them later (preferably over a glass of wine and a crème brule).
My closing thoughts are inspired by our favorite snippy-remark-turned-inside-joke: “Isn’t it a little late for THAT?” The quip came from a restaurant host as he pointed to our stroller and suggested we forgo our Saturday night dinner reservations. Well, Mr. Host, it’s 7 p.m., and parents gotta eat just like everyone else. My husband and I braved his cold stare, sat down, relaxed, and enjoyed our dry-aged steak. Dining under the watchful and disapproving eye of our host? Now, that’s what I call brave. Oh, and for the record? Max slept happily through the entire meal.
Some might call it bravery, but I say taking my favorite 2-foot tall man on vacation was an honor and a downright-good-memory-making time for the entire family. And no, it’s never a little late to make a memory with the Mister and the Little.