“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
We recently returned from a 16 day adventure to Mexico. I would not call it a vacation as we had our now two year old son in tow. As some friends have shared, traveling with a kid is just parenting in a different location. True. But it was more than that. For me, this was the most time I had spent with my family since maternity leave. It was a beautiful time of connection and intimacy, vulnerability and exertion.
We fell in love with Guadalajara while looking out from the 15th floor of our rented condo. We watched the construction of a new building as Augustine yelled “cement!” (a new word) in the cutest way possible and were engrossed by the constant stream of cars, busses, and motorcycles circling the Glorieta de Los Ninos Heroes on Avenida Chapultepec. We rode our first carousel at a carnival during Dia de Los Muertos and enjoyed morning swims in a beautiful (and perfectly shallow) saltwater pool at our airbnb in Puerto Vallarta. We were entertained by humping dogs at Boca de Tomatlan and caught hermit crabs on the beach in Nayarit. Augustine learned how to say si, hola, and gracias and got way too many compliments on his hair and eyes.
But as Anthony Bourdain’s beautiful quote reveals, travel is not always pretty. There was a lot of parenting on this trip. A lot of tiring communication and requests for understanding. Many big emotions. We explored, but also surrendered our individual desires scheduling our days around our son’s nap and visits to local playgrounds. Towards the end of our trip the three of us also shared the helplessness and discomfort of Montezuma's Revenge. It was heartbreaking to see my son refuse food and at times ridiculous as watery stools and diapers were no good match. Overcoming this small bout of illness brought us all together though and reaffirmed my ability as a parent to stay calm and love unconditionally.
Augustine could have cared less that we were in another country. As with all young children (and adults…) they thrive on undivided attention (presence) and love. And without the distractions of work I was able to provide that. Not all days were perfect and some days were draining. But as I make progress on becoming a more conscious parent and spouse (more on that book in a future post) this trip was an opportunity to practice - to accept and enjoy life as is, to relinquish control, and practice patience.
Now the challenge is how can I continue to provide my family these gifts with the competing priorities and demands of the real world? Much research points to mindfulness. The more we practice mindfulness in our day the more we can begin to bring that awareness into our everyday life and in our interactions with the ones we love. One simple practice is to take in the good. Mindfulness also helps us shift away from the ego (the “I”) that creates resistance in life and in parenting. I am working on this. Gratitude is another powerful ally in our efforts to maintain loving presence and strengthen our relationships.
That is another beauty of travel – you see, taste and experience things you want to incorporate in your life and you realize what you can leave behind upon your return. It was a gift to leave work for so long and to grow alongside my husband and child. It was a gift to participate in the family-oriented culture that we love so much about Mexico. Where else in the States can you go at night and see young people, old people, parents, kids and babies sharing the streets? It was a beautiful and exhausting adventure, but I wouldn’t have changed it. Thank you Mexico for your beauty and wonder, for your culinary inspiration, and for bringing me and my family together.
And Happy 2nd Birthday Augustine!! Thank you for being another launch pad and partner in our growth and evolution. And thank you Albert for paving the way.
Hello and welcome! My name is Andrea Notch Mayzeles. I am a Certified Health Education Specialist, Mom, and Master of Public Health dedicated to the path of well-being. As a wellness professional I am committed to continued learning and am here to share research, recipes and musings on health, psychology, personal development, and parenting. I hope you enjoy!