I want to travel and live abroad. I want routine for my kids to thrive. I want to write more books. I want to contribute more to our household income, instead of as a hobby. I want to be a present mom. I want an identity outside of them. I want to keep living minimally. I want a house with a huge kitchen for my husband to enjoy. I want to buy another boat. I want to set down roots. I want to meet new friends in exotic places. I want to deepen and nurture the connections with existing family and friends. I want the ocean. I want to rest. I want my MFA. I want to have everything right now.
And it is impossible.
There is simply not enough time or energy to accomplish everything. It is vital that we dedicate these important resources in a meaningful way, and these past few years, I have been spread too thin. I have focused much of my energy on external growth, the growth that is easy for me to see and measure—the boat adventure, publishing books, raising children. This ‘tree’ of mine has grown noticeably taller, branches spreading out in every direction, always moving up up up and seeking more more more.
But what about my roots? The core and foundation, the stability that allows for strength, has been neglected as we seek the next exciting thing. I realized I need to spread my roots down deep and work under the surface for a while. The year up in Virginia has been lonely, and both Conor and I find ourselves longing for community and connection. For family. For the childhood friendships that lasted through adulthood. As Mary Schmich said, “Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.”
These amazing people have cheered us on while we experienced living in California, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Virginia. Celebrated the birth of our children and career successes, but it has been from so far away. I yearn to be present in the lives of people I care about in real way, through the ups and downs. I want to dance at their weddings, hold their babies, and simply be with them without a return to the airport. I want to show the people we love how much we love them. After a decade away, I think it’s about time.
We made it! We are back home on the boat in North Carolina. Our 14 hour journey looked like this: car—ferry—tram—plane—bus—car—sailboat. My mom is a SAINT and came along with me, W, and Scout. Don’t worry, I’m flying her back first class on Monday—she’s more than earned it!
It took about a day and a half to get the boat back up and running. It’s like we never left! My mom kept W occupied while I de-winterized everything. Huge props to Conor who cleaned the crap out of everything before he left in January. I was honestly surprised that there were no major issues and we came back to a pristine boat. It helped that our friends Zach and Corri (read their post here) checked in on Story Time for us about once per week. They emptied our dehumidifiers, checked the bilge and batteries, and made sure the heat was running.
These are a few tips we swear by if you have to leave your boat for an extended period of time:
Wash and bag all linens, towels, pillows, etc.
Prop up cushions and mattresses to help with air flow
Leave fans and dehumidifiers running to keep things dry
Bleach water tanks
Put vinegar in the toilet
Get a boat babysitter for peace of mind
Store all breakables in a cabinet in case of strong winds
Put more lines out than you think you’d need
Wipe down all surfaces + inside every cabinet with disinfectant wipes. It’s a pain in the butt but you don’t want to come back to any mold!
Damp Rid bags in every closet
For the love of God, empty your holding tank
As for the marina, we have FOUR new liveaboards that moved in while we were gone! I just love that Gottschalk is growing into such a vibrant and active liveaboard community. We love the sense of family here and sharing the lifestyle with others. It is going to be a great summer.
During my 2012 trip to Nicaragua from Costa Rica, I took one backpack with stuff to last a week. I packed a toothbrush, hairbrush, 1 swimsuit, a pair of shorts, 2 t-shirts, flip flops, and a sarong that served as a blanket/towel/cover up depending on the situation. My passport, camera, and cash were my only items of value. I didn’t even have a phone. I certainly don’t remember wearing sunscreen.
I thought of this trip as we checked our baggage at Raleigh airport. The crowds parted like the sea when they saw us coming—a suitcase each for me, W, and Conor, a diaper bag, backpack with electronics, W’s crib, a car seat, Lillibaby harness, stroller, and a pet carry-on case for Scout. We wheeled this teetering monstrosity on a luggage cart amid gazes of awe and pity. Holiday travel with children. Is there anything else like it? If any readers have tips for us, please post below!
There were some things that made the trip easier. Luckily, W had her own seat for the cross-country flight to Seattle. All of our checked bags made it to the other side in one piece. We avoided any meltdowns (both parents and baby). Still, 6 hours entertaining a 1 year old who won’t sleep isn’t easy, and I am not looking forward to our return trip. It is hard living so far away from family! But now that we are here, we are relishing time with family and friends for the holidays. Plane travel with kids will get easier, especially once we don’t need to haul car seats and strollers and diaper bags.
I know that the carefree trips of my college years are part of the past, and I am okay with that. Fulfilling Baby’s needs and comfort are the most important part of taking a family-friendly trip. For that, I will load up as many bags on my back as it takes.