Leaving on a Jet Plane

I knew eventually, that the day would come that my husband and I would have an adventure together, alone, minus our child and dog. I just had no idea that it would be as emotional as it was.

Since it was our 10th anniversary, we decided, no gifts, just a trip. An adult only trip, to reconnect. You see, neither of us have ever been away from our son at the same time. We each have taken small trips here and there, but never together. I had somehow vowed, that I would never leave him alone with family to take a break. Maybe because I had been scared once at the age of 12, and I was terrified my son would feel the same sense of loneliness and abandonment. I worked it out. I made a plan.

My in-laws came in, we had packed up our carry-ons, and had left lots of instructions, i spent a week baking and making all my son’s favourite foods. I told he we wouldn’t be gone for long, and that he would have a blast building Lego and going swimming with his grandparents. It didn’t seem to faze him. He was going to get his grandfather all to himself, he told us he wanted us to go.

I was happy, he was in his own house, he had his routine, and he was good.

The day we left, he didn’t even hug us, he was busy downstairs in the basement building, and telling us he was fine.

I on the other hand, spent 6 1/2 hours on the flight to Lisboa, Portugal, praying we weren’t going to die. I have no idea who the heck I was praying to, but there I was, clutching my husband’s hand, tear-stained, and thinking every “what if” scenery if I died.

We landed, my husband had thought ahead and had arranged a driver to pick us up at the airport, I hadn’t slept a wink. The moment I looked out to the beautiful city, my worries, and fears, just disappeared. I was instantly, and completely in love with the city. I was charmed by an unknown pull. We were dropped off at our hotel, and handed some port at 8:30 in the morning. I don’t often drink, and have never had a glass of port, so I willingly took the glass and drank it down like it was water, only, it wasn’t water. It went straight to my head. So there I was, first time away from my child ever, and I was already morning tipsy in a foreign land, and told that our room wasn’t ready.

Oh dear, I hadn’t thought that one through!

My husband and I left our bags at the hotel, and decided to just wander the streets. It is rare for us to have this kind of alone time. To be honest, when we had our son with us, we mostly steal glances, squeeze each other’s hands, and then home our son falls asleep before us! Having actual time, that was all ours, was a culture shock we were ill prepared for.

We held hands, then we argued, we then sat down for food, and realized, without our son dictating our meals, we in fact had forgotten to eat for more than 12 hours, between the heat and the hunger, our emotions were running high! 10 minutes after eating, we laughed, and realized we were fine, we were clearly not used to making our own schedule. But, that is the beauty of taking a break, and travelling once again as a couple, and not as a family. For 4 glorious days, we hiked, walked, ate and drank our way through Lisboa, and frankly, it was so nice to be an adult, and not be a parent for that time.

Have you taken a trip without your kids?

Dip Kid

Life Lessons from a Diplomatic Father

It is always difficult for me to write about my Father, he was a force to recon with, a true diplomat to the core. A man, who’s cancer took from this earth way too early. He was 51 when he took his last breath. I was left to ring in my 20th birthday with a future with no Father. I had been stripped of everything I knew, which was the diplomatic life. Yet, years later, I realized I had still learned so much from the first man in my life.

There are so many life lessons that I learned growing up abroad, it was not an easy life, nor was it a life I would recommend for everyone, but it was my life, and I don’t know any differently. To describe my parents, would be to define them by their outward appearances, which was in all practicality, square, and very conservative. Their personalities on the other hand, were complete opposites.

My Father once said, that if he had to, he would flip burgers to put food on the table. I was always startled by that statement, because he meant it. The few times I walked into the office with him, he acknowledged every single person he saw, including the guards, the person who controlled the elevator, the janitors. EVERY.SINGLE.PERSON. He had worked hard to get as far as he did, but he was still humble, and gave everyone respect.

He had impossibly high standards, but if you worked hard, you always had his respect. My Father detested laziness. He always said “pick the slower hardworking person, over the highly intelligent buzzer.” He always believed that someone could learn a skill if they set their minds to something, but he had no time for those who never wanted to try.

Although incredibly conservative on the outside (he was a classic nerd, dapper, but still all stuffy and diplomatic looking), yet my Father never cared or judged anyone for who they went home with. He always said to never judge a book by its cover. He believed that who you love is who you love, you can’t control that, and should never judge anyone for that. He just didn’t believe in discussing the intimate parts of your love life at work, no matter what. I always felt that I could come home and announce that I was a Buddhist, gay, straight, or was taking a vow of silence (the latter, my Father would have jumped for joy if I did). Knowing that I was never going to be judged, made me realize how important that it is when becoming a parent. I have never wanted to judge my son. I want him to know, I will love him unconditionally just like my Father did.

To be thankful and gracious. My Father was incredibly difficult to live with at times. If we were posted back to Head Quarters, my Father was always under a huge amount of stress, he would have so many countries under his supervision, and there was always a crisis. He attempted to compartmentalized as best as possible, but there were times, it was obvious the stress was palpable, like a big elephant in the room that we were supposed to ignore. No matter what, he always said thank you for a dinner that was made for him, or clean laundry that was left on his bed, or dishes done, he was so thankful for these small things, that it made it nice to do the small things for him. Gratitude goes a long way.

Always have an ironed shirt and shined shoes. My Father believed that no matter where you are in life, people will remember the state of your shoes, I never understood it until we stood together at receptions, and I began to learn how to read people partly by their shoes. It’s not a brand thing, but noticing how someone walks and takes care of their shoes can give you a quick assessment before you negotiate with them. As for the ironed shirt, well, that was so he didn’t look like he rolled out of bed!