Oh man, Monday was a long day. I was picked up at 5:30am to go to the airport and stepped into my own house at 11pm San Francisco time (1am Quito time). That is a lot of traveling.
My kids and I leave for St. Louis on Saturday morning. Our plane leaves at 9:30am.
Yesterday I took my uncle and cousin (actually my cousin’s kid) to the Exploratorium with my own kids. Today my daughter and I will do Alcatraz with them. Then I have Thursday to pack because Friday I take my parents to the airport and they are taking our big suitcase with them, because it’s free to check on Southwest and $50 on the airline we’re taking.
I remember when I was making these plans, thinking how crazy it was going to be. And now that I’m living it… it absolutely feels like too much.
Seeing my kids Monday morning was amazing. The first hugs were oh so sweet. We snuggled and read and hung out. There was about an hour honeymoon period of awesome before they fell back into their old patterns of whining and fighting. My son threw a minor tantrum for about an hour because he didn’t like the present I’d gotten him (a stuffed llama adorned with real fur instead of a Thomas toy). I kind of knew it was coming but it still sucked. I’m not trying to paint our first morning together with a negative brush, just trying to portray things realistically. It’s so easy to imagine how amazing a mother’s homecoming is after 10 days of being away, but the reality is always a lot messier. I think it’s important to portray the messy.
My daughter did AMAZING while I was away. Everyone has mentioned it. She seems more grown up now, even to me. She really is growing up, in ways I wasn’t sure would ever happen with all the stuff we’ve been through. I think it can be hard for me to remember that my son is only three, since my daughter acted a lot younger than her age (in terms of her social/emotional development) for so long, and now seems a lot more mature. It’s almost like I expect my son to make that same jump now too.
It’s also hard to appropriately gauge my expectations surrounding her ability to handle herself better than her brother since she is older. Surely I shouldn’t have the same expectations for a seven year old and a three and a half year old, and yet I want to be fair. In the end she is only seven, and a sensitive, easily overwhelmed seven at that. I felt immediately thrown back into that whole complicated parenting dynamic, second guessing how to handle their fighting and frustrations.
I didn’t even realize I was expecting at least 24 of adoration before they fell back into their regular whiny routines, until their bickering started up almost immediately, and I felt… cheated? Ah unrecognized expectation, you are a fickle bitch.
So now I buckle down to get it all done before St. Louis, and then I spend St. Louis managing my children instead of having fun with my cousins (trying to set that realistic expectation right now). Good times.
I don’t think I realized how great it was to have all that personal time in Ecuador, because I spent so much of it managing the emotions of being away from home. But now, looking back, I recognize how amazing those slow mornings were, how enjoyable dinner was with only adults to converse with, the freedom to plan when I only needed to consider my own physical and emotional limitations. No wonder I had such a good time, despite everything that challenged me.
I do plan to write more about my trip, about what I loved and didn’t love about Quito, about why I can’t wait to go back to Ecuador with my kids, and about how I felt traveling alone for 10 days. I hope I get those posts written, because I have a lot to say.
Right now I’ll just say, it’s great to be home, even if it’s not quite how I imagined. I am a lucky woman to be able to get away, and a lucky woman to have a family to come home to.
What expectations do you need to check right now?