Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Vacationing, or trying to, with two little ones
It’s interesting to be reminded of the variety of people and life experiences in the U.S. I’m surprised to find myself in the agricultural heartland, and to learn that here, grass-fed milk and free-range chickens are really hard to come by. I’m reminded of the poverty – of people who travel to get a job that pays $10 an hour, people who drive from one supermarket to another to buy the things on sale, people who live in the waterpark capital of the world, yet have never been to the major parks, because it costs too much to take a family of 10.
In some places, I long for the beauty of the land and the friendliness of the people. In others, I find the limited perspectives so claustrophobic I can’t wait to get away. My mom grew up in the latter type of place and as I grow older, I respect her ability to escape.
One relative in this place told me how she dissuaded her daughter from becoming a physical therapist.
“It takes eight years of school,” she said. “So I sat down with my daughter and I asked her what kind of mother she wants to be. Does she want to be a working mom or a stay at home mom? She said she’d like to stay home if she can. So I did the calculations with her. We looked at the cost of eight years of school, how old she’d be at that point, and how many years she might be able to work before having kids. The math did not work out. She wouldn’t make enough to cover the cost of the education. So I suggested she become a physical therapist assistant instead. That only requires two years of education.”
The argument seems logical on the surface. However, it ignores the fact that spouses tend to have similar levels of education. If she were to get more education, she’d be more likely to meet more educated men. Her chance of having a husband who could earn enough to allow her to stay home would increase.
Then there is the fact that a mother’s level of education has significant impacts on her children’s education levels (this mom who talked her daughter out of her dream has a high school education).
And then there is life after kids. Even if this girl wants to spend 15 or 20 years at home raising children, she still has a lot of time left in her expected life. Being well educated would give her more options, either in her chosen field, or in another area.
Tomorrow we face the longest drive of the trip – up to ten hours without stops. So far the kids have behaved quite well in the car. We brought limited toys – a couple of books and a couple of Matchbox cars. Sometimes River talks incessantly, other times he sleeps. But there have been no major problems so far.
Another big change is that River has been forced to sleep in a big boy bed for the first time. At the first hotel, the beds were very high and unfortunately, he fell out. Since then, we’ve pushed his bed against the wall when possible, and put carry-on size suitcases on either side of him. He hasn’t fallen again since and he stays in bed for his naps and his sleep without a problem.
All in all, I’m learning that traveling as a family of four is possible, it can be fun, but that extra hands (family or a babysitter) make for a much more enjoyable time. We’ve learned that we carry a lot of crap for a 3-4 week trip and that a full-size car is a nice luxury. We are sharing lots of special moments and I’m grateful for this time. But I also look forward to future vacations, when they are older and more independent and I can sit back and read for a bit while they do something of interest to them.