Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

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?

10 Comments

  1. Congrats on getting back safely! I’m looking forward to your trip report. The pictures looked great and I’m very glad that you had such wonderful moments!

    Meanwhile, on expectations. I was just in Italy for a week with my husband and kids and I guess I had forgotten how incredibly horrible traveling with kids can be. It was very hot (though probably not compared to Quito), we had not planned enough, and we spent way too much time walking/waiting for a bus/traveling in a bus in the heat, carrying the 3-year-old and the 8-year old complaining SO MUCH that I thought my head would explode. Also the hotel room was very small, so there was no escape.

    I should not have had ANY expectations, I should have remembered what it’s like, but somehow you just forget. There were more good things than bad (food was amazing, so was swimming in lake Garda) but the bad moments were a bit much for me. Also my kids are quite easy to deal with at home so the shock is considerable when they start reacting to stress and discomfort and to the fact that we cannot play with/pay attention to them all the time because we have to deal with practical stuff. It was really tough. But my husband, who even carried most of the stuff plus the 3-year-old, said he had fun and liked it, and he said he had no expectations at all. Which is definitely why he had fun.

    (The kids, amazingly, declared that they had a lot of fun and would like to go again…!)

    1. I think the key is definitely to keep expectations low! We took our 3 & 5 year old to Spain in February, and my husband and I had a lot of conversations ahead of time about keeping expectations super low and only having a couple of key things we wanted to for sure see/do, and that was it. And MAN did we have a good time. I’m sorry you found Italy to be stressful – hopefully next time you’ll enjoy the family travel time more!

      1. Thanks! I’m glad to hear that you had a good time in Spain. You certainly did it right πŸ™‚
        The funny thing is that we were in Tenerife in the winter and that was very relaxing and fun, but I think that was exactly because I had no expectations and because we focused on keeping the kids happy. But now we had a more “grown up” destination and the Tenerife vacation had somehow made me more confident and I thought we could manage in more challenging circumstances, manage with less planning, and even do what *I* want once in a while. Mistakes, mistakes. But the kids had fun, I had good moments, and it was nice to spend time as a family, and to see that we can cope even in difficult circumstances.

  2. I think I have commented sparingly and only on your previous blog. Sorry! I am a terrible commenter.

    I had to respond to this because I had a similar experience just last week. My husband and I were away from our children for 9 days while we traveled Alaska. The take alone together was incredible and all the FaceTime and pictures we received from our kids (girl 6.5 and boy 3.5) were all great but filled with sentiments of how much they missed us.

    Our honeymoon period upon our return lasted the hour we were at the grandparents picking them up. By the time we were back home it was business as usual!

    I am telling myself that it is actually a good sign. They are secure enough in our love for them that they feel comfortable returning to their regular routine knowing that we will love them even during/after the meltdowns/misbehavior!

    Welcome home

  3. Welcome back! I just spent 5 days in Park City with blog friends, and like you, it was frustrating to realize that I had sweet hugs and exclamations of MOM I MISSED YOU when I got home…and a few minutes later it was back to normal bickering. Darn kids. πŸ˜‰

    I can’t wait to hear more about the trip. What a fun experience!!!

  4. Thank you for even-handing the responses and reactions to your return. Hope you have a grand time with the tourist activities in SF. You Will get the packing done and the time will fly past. Deep breathing and you will be in St. Louis making more memories. Cheers!

  5. Welcome back!

    We got lucky and our first family vacation to Maui went well–kids were 17 mo and 3. They slept well in a separate room–3 yo on the bed, baby in a pack and play. We had sprung for a condo so we had our own room. Baby napped well, etc. So that trip set expectations high for future trips. The next time we were able to take a vacation, the kids were almost 3 and almost 5 and we took a road trip to Yosemite. The best we could get was a room at the Lodge with two double beds. We planned to have us together in one double bed and the two of them together in the other and I had bought this like curtain room divider thing online that I thought would help. Well, the younger one just would not go to sleep and we had to separate the kids. So we each had one kid in a tiny double bed and we are used to a cal king. And the kids move around a lot. It did not go well and we got very little sleep that trip.

  6. Owen makes me pay for whenever one of us travels without him. I recently spent 24 hours by myself for a weekend, and when I got home, he actually hugged me (yay!)… but then spent the rest of the afternoon antagonizing me; hanging on me despite my requests to stop, ignoring (or fighting and negotiating) anything I asked him to do, asking me over and over if he could do stuff that he already knew he couldn’t (more computer time). It sucked. So I get you.

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