Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Full Circle


I waved off my parents this morning after a two-week visit and my heart is torn.

It was one of the most surreal moments of my life so far: introducing my son to his grandparents; hearing myself refer to them as "Por Por" and "Gung Gung", having only ever associated those names with my mother's parents.

And as I handed him over to be held, he fixed them with a look so certain that it shook me: pure recognition. As if to say, "What took you so long?"

How did he know?

Over the next two weeks, I watched as they doted on him: my dad humming the University of Oregon fight song ("Go Ducks, go!") as he marched him to sleep, my mom coaxing him to smile and gurgle (which he did, and seemingly only at her encouragement - no one else's) - and I felt sad that we would have to say goodbye so soon.

They babysat while I sneaked off for an hour's blissful postnatal massage; watched him as I attended a hospital appointment in Surrey, my mom texting me to say, "He's fine! Take your time! Window shop if you want, get some retail therapy." I bought a soy hot chocolate at Costa in Waterloo station, watching dizzily as commuters rushed past me - remembering that part of my life that's still in there, somewhere.

I took the tube home and asked my dad - an architect - to sketch our house, as a keepsake.

Our first home.

I passed him on the landing in the mornings as I carried the baby down the stairs and glimpsed him working, intently, in his sketchbook.

After he left, I stared at the drawings and took in the pencil strokes until tears threatened to dampen the pages: each blade of grass in the garden, and a faithful rendering of our Audi A3 parked in front.

And so, I've come full circle: mirroring my parents' trajectory of living abroad, starting a family abroad, and waving goodbye - back and forth, back and forth. A 9 or 10-hour journey (depending on the tail wind) back and forth, across the ocean and another country, transversing time, memories, love, continents. Little toes that seem to grow by the day. Smiles that become increasingly forthcoming. Chubby fists that extend overhead; arms outstretched and wanting.

Waiting.

If I thought that being an expat was hard, being an expat with a kid is much, much harder.
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Monday, May 7, 2018

Travel Link-Up: How The &*%$ Do I Travel With A Baby?


This month's travel link-up topic is "Travel Challenges" - and it couldn't be more timely. We're heading to a friend's wedding in Antibes later this month and I just ... I mean ... how the &*%$ do I travel with a baby?

"It's the best time to travel!" they say. "All they [babies] do is sleep!" they say. (Mine doesn't - at least, not during the day, which is better than not sleeping at night, I suppose!)

I thought I had enough worries travelling on my own, but now I have things to think about like diapers, bottles, strollers, pacifiers and ... how do I get him to the airport in a cab (answer: we'll book a cab with a car seat). Through security (dreading this in particular)? On the plane (answer: probably in a wearable carrier)? I've been told to nurse him during takeoff and landing to help his little ears adjust to cabin pressure, but I can totally picture myself fumbling and him crying and both of us being a mess together on the plane!

In short ... HELP!

But on a lighter note, I'm looking forward to staying in the very Instagrammable Airbnb John found in Cannes (a pool! Pretty tiles!) and seeing my friend get married in the beautiful French countryside.

And I'm glad the flight to Nice will be short as it'll be "practice" for our longer flights to the US and Hong Kong later this year to see relatives, but I'm having serious anxiety - not to mention the fact that he'll have had his second round of vaccinations a few days before, so will probably be a little ratty on the plane.

If you have kids, or have travelled with kids or small babies before, do you have any tips? As I said before, HELP!

This month's Travel Link-Up is hosted by Emma, Angie, Polly and Binny. Head over to their blogs to read more about their travel challenges!
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