Confession: Staying-at-Home Sucks

Cole aka “the baby”

This year we decided to try something new: what if Drew did various adventures, and I stayed home (albeit overseas) with the baby? “Okay, let’s try it,” we said. When he did his 10 day silent meditation retreat, it worked great. I got a lot of work done in Bali, and I got see the island on my own terms. When he returned I was excited to show him around and share Bali with him. Now, we’re in India, and I’m stationed in Goa. There doesn’t seem to be half as much to do as Ubud, but more importantly, I am extremely jealous of my husband’s train trip. The meditation retreat? That sounds like hard work. Seeing India, crashing a wedding party, getting thrown off the train, taking photos and just having a whirlwind India experience? I want to do that!  The beach can wait. The only problem is, a 16 day India train trip covering 12,500 km isn’t a good place for an one-year-old.  The adventure wouldn’t be very fun with a crying baby, and not fair to him, as he’d undoubtably be frustrated with having to sit on my lap for days at a time.

Seriously, Don’t Do What I Did

Mamas of the world, please for the love of all that is travel, please realize that when you say to your husband, “Yes, of course, go have an adventure and I will wait here with your adorable offspring” that he will invariably take you up on it.  Also realize that the idea of a beach for two months isn’t as much fun as spending day after day on a beach for two months.  Even if it’s with the world’s most adorable baby, who is now on the Facebook page of every Indian family we’ve run into, as they’re insistant on taking not just one, but multiple photos with our child! If I started a site called, Sh*t Indian People Like the very first thing would be ‘white babies’.

So Now What?

Well, I kind of blew it, since the train trip has taken off, India Times is running a story on Saturday (I know, holy crap!) and I just visited the last known landmark of interest in Goa: the Dudh Sagar waterfalls and an organic spice plantation.  I’ve officially come to the end of my very short list called, “Stuff to do in Goa when you get sick of the beach, because believe me that will happen.” It cost me $40 just to hire a driver to the waterfalls, where they then take you in a jeep over rough terrain for 45 minutes and then give you about 6 seconds to take pictures and dip your exhausted ass into the freezing cold water. Okay, so I don’t know.  I’m trying to figure out how to be a wife, a mom, a traveler, a writer and a happy well-rounded person.  I want to balance world travel with family life.  I want to write, but I want to snuggle my son.  I want to have adventures but be safe.  I want to encourage my husband to take risks and to find his bliss but I also want him here, with me and our son.

How Do You Do It All?

I don’t! Someone recently sent me an email asking for advice, and meanwhile I’m trying to figure out if letting my baby crawl around on the floor in India is radical parenting or just a stone’s throw from dysentery. I mean honestly, sometimes this kid is so filthy from the dust in India, he looks like he has been eating chocolate. But it’s not chocolate, oh no, it’s dirt. Or cow poop. Or a bit of both. I’ve already mentally cancelled all my husband’s travel plans (sans family) for the rest of his life, a little trick that will last just as long as the next big thing. Then I know what will happen, I’ll get excited for him all over again and I’ll sign him up while he’s in the other room and pretend like it was something he did the last time he was drunk. It seems like something that should only work once, but you’d be surprised.

40 Comments

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  2. Maybe its time for your husband to stay with the baby and for you to be off travelling? I mean seriously why not? It would be an adventure for all 3 of you

  3. I third that motion! It would be double story worthy…whatever adventure you’re having and writing about…and surely the adventure that would be Dad and Son. It’s all an evolution isn’t it? And it goes to show that no, we really can’t have everything – there is always sacrifice. Cheers!

    • I will eventually do that, but I’m not ready to leave the baby yet! Give me another year, then I’ll be off… :)

  4. You’re such a better wife than I am, clearly. Scott and I are going to Hawaii for two weeks in April, and while we’re planning and budgeting activities, he’s the one staying at home if it’s an activity too expensive for us to pay for two. I kind of feel guilty…but not really 😉

  5. Brawnydt

    My wife and I have been talking about you and Drew’s most recent adventures for a while, and we’ve both been wondering how you pulled it off and how long it would take for you to get fed up with being left alone with Cole.

    I can imagine it’s quite frustrating, and then it’s probably even more frustrating to feel frustrated in the first place.

    I agree, the next adventure should be yours to choose, whether you want to go it alone or drag your husband along, it’s your turn!

    • Yeah, it really did seem like a good idea at the time, but I guess we’ve learned a valuable lesson: I’m not the waiting type. I’m already trying to figure out how we can all go trekking in Nepal — there’s actually some family friendly routes, so it may be possible to adjust on our next adventure!

      • BrawnyDT

        Nepal!! My wife and I had big plans to make Nepal our next stop. Actually we would have been living there right now if some big health issues hadn’t gotten in the way. As it stands now, we are grounded for the time being. :(

        We still plan to though, I’ve even got a new travel blog domain just sitting and waiting for our next adventure.

        We’ve actually started learning Nepali too, which is a close cousin to Hindi and uses the same devangari alphabet.

        The biggest issue I saw with Nepal was us foreigners could only get a 5 month visa once a year. I was unclear how easy it was to renew said visa or what other options were available.

        I hope you get to go!

  6. I love this post. You may not appreciate that it sucks if you live in one place, too. And, you have your husband around more times than not. You’ll get through the 16 days somehow, and then enjoy the free time he owes you! 😉

  7. I could try to be supportive and say well how much more would it suck to be back home living the same old life while your husband is off exploring India in a train … but I’m sure that won’t help. Feel free to rant away. I understand completely. I usually have Colin around (cause frankly I’m not stupid enough to say ‘yeah sure go off by yourself for a month’) but I’m just jealous as all hell all the time of the mum’s with older kids that can do white water rafting, treks or even just go out to dinner without having to battle the whole meal with your kids! Not to mention the carefree backpackers that can do what they want.

    If it will make you feel better, perhaps we can start dreaming up more weird things for Drew to eat as a dare when he gets back? Watching Drew eat chillies is at least something you can watch and say “I’m actually really glad I can’t do this”

    • Thanks for not trying to be supportive! I’m angry and I’m not gonna take it anymore!!! Um, or something! Anyway, I’m at the beach now, the waiters are watching the baby and I’m going to take your suggestion and google crazy things I can dare Drew to do in India. :)

      • I will await the next video instalment. Seeing Drew and Kyle eating a bag of chilli’s is still one of the highlights of my year.

  8. I’ve watched in awe as you do things I can’t bring myself to do – that is ‘stay home’ while my partner keeps going out and having amazing extended adventure that I don’t have the capacity to keep up with him in. I’ve always wondered if you’re some kind of complete super-woman that I can’t ever hope to be… or if you might find challenge in it from time to time.

    Thank you for sharing your true emotions on this.

    I understand the conflict very well.. of wanting to support your partner in his interests and letting him be him, and also the envy of wanting to do it too! And I don’t even have the added complexity of adorable young offspring to manage.

    • Thanks Cherie! I know, it’s complicated. I’m definitely not a super woman, though! I thought it would be insincere for me to gloss over that feeling and paint the picture that I never ever question what we’re doing it or that we don’t stumble along the way.

  9. Dear Christine, my husband told me to run over and read what you wrote today. Not sure why. We have decided – for the most part – not to have little babies and I sometimes have bouts of doubt and we both love travel and well, your honesty is rare, SO rare. No other parent admits the down sides of having children and I love that you are so open and yet so honest and such a great writer. Who needs to do it all when you are having this unique experience? Yours is indeed unique and so long as you stay safe and healthy, I know adventure will come and find you. And that’s one great cute photo… ! :)

    • If you guys don’t want kids, don’t hesitate for a moment. Enjoy it. I love my son, and he brings unmeasurable joy to my life, but I wanted this — all of it — even the parts I don’t like. If it’s not for you, then don’t look back! Have fun!

  10. It’s weird, the baby years. I think crawling on the floor in India should be good for his immune system, and I’d be relaxed about that. Z clambered all over all sorts of places and never went down with anything.

    Thanks for being honest here, though. Have you considered getting an aya for a day or two to take the pressure off a little?

    • I’ve thought about getting some help, but really I’m just disappointed that I didn’t have anything interesting to write about and meanwhile, my husband is writing all these great travel stories. Probably a bit of pouting on my part! I might book a trip somewhere to break up the time a bit.

  11. Since I’ve been spending time with you, I think you and Drew juggle traveling, working and living pretty damn well. And you know the second Cole is a bit older (which isn’t far off) you’ll be booking some fantabulous adventure!

  12. Oh man, I get jealous when Andrew goes somewhere I haven’t been on a business trip… and I KNOW he’s not having any fun. I don’t know how you do it and kudos for you for being honest about your feelings! I hope you have some family friendly adventures soon (and I hope I get to catch up with you guys in India!)

  13. Hello Chris, I’m Anibal, an amateur traveler from Uruguay.

    I found your blog entry most entertaining! haha I’m sure you are and will be a good mom!

    I don’t do travelling *that* much, but when I do I try to take one or both my kids with me, every since they were little. I’m divorced but luckily I keep a good relationship with my ex-wife.

    When we just had Galina, our older daughter, we took up trips all across South America. It was very tiring for her, even though she had too much energy to demand food and keeping herself awake all night!

    I think you and Drew as a travelling family will give Cole some invaluable lessons through travel experiences. I find that the richness in knowledge expands dramatically because of travelling.

    I hope you could visit my country someday, I’d be great to have you around. I’ll show you a vid about Uruguay, but if you have time to spare try to check some others as well: http://uruguaynatural.tv/video/782005807001(sadly most of it is in Spanish)

    Hope you liked it.

    Keep it up!

    Cheers!
    x

  14. If you had room for a longer headline maybe you could have qualified it by saying “Staying at home sucks when your child is still less than a year old and you don’t have friends to hang out with in a foreign country…” or something like that. I have done stay-at-home, worked full time outside the home, and all sorts of in-between combos, and I don’t think staying at home sucks (especially when kids are older and conversational) — unless you’re feeling lonely, which perhaps you are? I’m sorry it’s been an unsatisfying few weeks and I totally relate to professional jealousy of spouse, but if you and he work on it then these things tend to balance out over time. Or not, and then you’re in trouble. Good luck!

  15. Man what a great, funny post – both honest and real. As if you weren’t my hero before you are now that you’ve admitted (with your usual eloquence) to such feelings as boredom and frustration and the challenges too that come with “having it all.” HEY I would love to meet you guys in Nepal if you do end up there roundabout April or so. Am planning on the A.C. and maybe one of those 10 day silent retreats.. 😉

    ps. Troy and I met in Quito last year … I am following the train ride on his blog and yours…. xoxo

    • I’m planning on doing the Annapurna circuit, if I can figure out a way to do it with the baby… which there seems to be several websites saying it can be done (besides he won’t walk it, he’ll just be carried). Not sure if it’ll be April… we’re thinking more like June, but who knows, maybe we’ll end up there early!

      It’s funny that you’ve met Troy, small world! He’s coming to Nepal with us too. :)

  16. Christine honey, ya got guts girl! I love India, know Goa very well. I don’t think the beaches are that great but the life is. However, 16 DAYs and there isn’t that much to do or see, and with a baby. Hats off to you. You’re doing it while hubby is all smiles:)) elsewhere and loving it.

    It’s great that the 2 of you support each other though and he’ll be back soon!!!

    That’s what adventure is all about, isn’t it. Enjoy:

  17. I just have to say that the picture of your son is adorable! I feel like an old nelly queen saying that too, but I cant think of a better word. Are you getting tired of hearing how cute he is?

    Oh yeah, your post was pretty good too…good luck working through that stuff…yawn…oh sorry…I gotta go vacuum my house, pay my mortgage, clean my toilet, take out the trash…now that’s what you call exciting. :-)

  18. Laughing reading this. When we traveled for a year with our son (he was between one and two) my husband was doing research for a book so he would be off to work most days and I was “home” being mom. Except I didn’t have any of the comforts of home, like friends or family to help, daycare, toys, books…

    Over that 13 month period we were in 8 different places and I felt like I had to learn again and again that traveling with babies, while it is totally rewarding and worth it, it also a lot of work and involves compromises I couldn’t have imagined before I had children.

    One suggestion I have is this: Make sure you get time away from the baby. I don’t mean like what your husband is doing – totally understand why you aren’t ready for that yet. But maybe in shorter doeses, one or two days. Yes this is a compromise, but you’d be amazed what a day or two of independence and focus can do. That’s doable even if you’re still nursing.

    Good luck! And thanks for sharing! I always love reading your blog.

  19. I never pretend to be a fan of somebody… But I’ve been following you for a very very long time and I must say that I reallay like your writing, your sense of humour, your adventures.
    Keep going!
    Thank you for the inspiration (even if travel will kill all my relationships…)

    NowMadNow

  20. Of course I’m not a mom – but what if you and Drew traded off? Then you get to have some crazy adventures and he does too and you both get quality baby time with Cole. And no one feels frustrated. Maybe not right away but just a little bit here and there. It’s only fair that you feel this way given you are doing all the tough stuff while he has been doing all the fun stuff and you are both parents. I see similar situations like this with my friends who have kids and I know it is different for men than women and it is harder for a mother to leave even for a few days. But I’ve also seen my friends when they have been able to leave for a couple days and they are usually elated once they get past feeling guilty.

    I can only relate in one small way. I was once engaged to a military man. I went where he went but he had a built in network of friends from work. For me, even though we moved to cool places – after that newness wore off – it SUCKED. I was alone a lot of the time and when I wasn’t I still felt alone because he was having all these adventures with a club of people that I just couldn’t join. I constantly had dreams that I was standing on a dock wearing heavy winter clothes while they jumped off the ship into the warm water. The ship was anchored out just a bit from the dock. Enough for me to see the fun they had but too far for me to join in. In my dreams I stood on that dock watching them and crying. In my waking life, I ended up bitter even though I never wanted to admit it.

    Feeling left out really, really sucks.

    Could you take a trip for a couple days to another spot in India? Maybe that could shake things up a bit. Things will get better Christine – big hugs!!!

  21. Can’t you just tether Cole to a kite that floats above you wherever you go? Or put him in a sidecar pulled by a pygmy pony. How about hiring a sherpa to tag along while you get your adventure on… or

  22. Had to laugh! In some ways it does get easier as the kids get older as they are more self-sufficient, but they also have other needs that make you pause and consider if you can haul them out of school and away from friends… again.

    I just gave to okay for my husband to hike the Appalachia Trail… 5 months away. My friends think I’m nuts, but I know he really, really, really needs adventures like this. Of course, I’m plotting my own time abroad to write, write and write. Maybe 2-3 weeks though; I can’t imagine more time away from my daughters yet.

    Your comment about the IDEA of two months at the beach and the reality of it is SO TRUE. It’s hard to understand until you’ve been through it. Hang in there; know what ever you figure out will change. Keep your sense of humor; it’s wonderful!

  23. You wrote about Goa and I too love this place, Have you ever been to kerela ?

    I liked the design of your blog but I would suggest you to write short paragraphs and use bulleted lists.

    You got good information but its hard to scan.

  24. Pingback: Avoiding Backpackers Redux | AlmostFearless.com

  25. HA. This is hilarious! Wow, I never considered leaving my husband and daughter behind to go off on adventure. (Ok, ok. Maybe I have, but only on every third day.) There are plenty of beaches to sort out my thoughts on in Brazil…

  26. I cannot say anything about taking a little kid to to some filthy train and enjoy it. I don’t have a kid and most probably I wouldn’t do that either.

    Kids have not asked us for torture! I refused to sell a tour package who wanted to visit Iran last year in the hot season when they wanted to go to the south west visiting Susa and Ahvaz, 55 degrees Celsius and humid. Of course, the vehicles are air-conditioned, but if anything goes wrong with them, adults may survive that. I’m not sure about kids.

    Rahman Mehraby
    Destination Iran

  27. Thanks for writing this Christine. I’m not a parent yet, but dream with everything that I am, that I will take my baby, and my man, and still continue to see the world. I’ve always been scared and tried to down play the practicalities of it all, but you made me realise there really are practicalities, and there is only so much BEACH you can see, before your just frigging board. BTW, I loved your piece on staying away from backpackers the other day, you rocked it, I could see the humour and double edged sword, but totally related.

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