Off-topic: Parenting and travel

The Wife raised her bellini. I lifted my Anchor Steam and clinked her glass.

“To Layla, for which we would not know how to enjoy a vacation properly.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love my kid. She is…well, she is my kid. I often tell people that she packs the bullheaded stubbornness of The Wife with the temper and attitude of a younger me. But, I didn’t have a problem dropping her to my in-laws and saying goodbye. And, frankly, neither did The Wife. She was more concerned with how to answer the questions:

“How could you leave your child for a week?”

Didn’t you know that this is what you signed up for? You had a kid. You can’t just go on vacation.”

Those are queries that strike right to the center of any parent. The mere implication that you abandoned your child, even if they are with their grandparents, strikes a great deal of self-doubt in your ability to parent.

I think about the first day I brought Layla to day care in August 2010. It was a week before The Wife returned to the classroom and we decided to start a little early to get the routine down. The Wife clutched the baby, tears streaming down her face. No one was there to judge. She was doing it to herself. I plucked Layla from her, popped her in the car seat and left The Wife to sob on the couch uncontrollably. How else can you do it? There was no way I could bring her with me as I deposited our baby with absolute strangers for the day. She wouldn’t have left the day care center.

Now, day care is a forgone conclusion in our lives. Yes, there are days when I would rather stay home and play with Layla. That has less to do with missing her and more to do with my not wanting to go to work (Ask anyone, regardless of how much they enjoy their job, whether they would rather play with their kid or go to work. I bet you get 1 person out of 100 who goes to the office.). The socialization and basic education she gets in her classroom is more than one parent could provide on a daily basis. My kid communicates, converses, expresses and deals with things because of the situations that confront her at day care.

I think about something that one of my college classmates told me. He said that within a few weeks of his daughter being born, they shipped her to the grandparents so he and his wife could go to California. He thinks it caused his child to be more independent in her younger years. Did it hurt the mother-daughter bond? I would doubt it. Love is love, and I think that a child can feel affection in the same way we feel it from them. Whether the love is from a grandparent, the biological or surrogate parent, it’s still love.

Yes, parenting is hard work and it requires a tremendous amount of responsibility. I don’t envy my friends who live 4-5+ hours from the nearest relative. They are truly on their own to investigate quality child care, even for an evening out. Listen, that stinks, but then again, they made the choice to move away from their familial circle. That was a choice. Me? Well, we chose to stay. That also has its issues. But, after all that, to demonize a parent for going on vacation sans child is almost immoral (something about judging lest ye be judged).

We Skyped with Layla and the grandparents the other night. She was happy to see us but had no concept as to why we were in the computer or where we were. She was more content to play with the keyboard in front of her.

You know why? It’s because she’s two years old and the people holding her in their lap love her as much as the people on the screen.

And that’s what counts.

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