For over a decade, our family has taken a summer trip to Yosemite National Park. The first time we went, my children were toddlers. This time, both of them will scale Half Dome with their dad. Meanwhile, I’ll be here at my desk, barreling through the last of the revisions on my latest book.
I’m a little wistful about this. On the one hand, I’m not in good enough shape this year to make the climb (at eighteen miles and ¬†several thousand feet elevation change, the Half Dome hike is pretty tough, and I’ve only done a few times, though my husband never misses a chance to scale that rock) and I’m enjoying a few days of solitude and quiet. On the other hand, I feel a bit as though my family’s precious time together is passing me by. But there was a book to promote, and deadlines to meet, and upcoming travel to plan around, and I’m trying to be a good sport.
I was driving home from Yosemite yesterday, trying to decide between In’n'Out and Wendy’s (ha! as if it’s even a choice!) when I remembered something my husband once said to a friend of ours, back when our children were little and he was on the road for his job most weeks. “The travel’s a pain,” he said, “but what’s really hard is coming home and seeing that life went on without you.”
Sometimes, when they were babies, Bob would come home and say they’d grown in that one week. He heard about many of their milestones over the phone – their first steps, first words, first trips to the emergency room. He missed classroom parties, end-of-school picnics, lacrosse games, softball games, field trips, scout trips.
One of my favorite memories from when they were little is going to Target. There was a pay phone at the front of the store, and my children loved to pretend that they were calling daddy at work. They “talked” on the phone and told him how much they missed him, and that they hoped he would come home soon.
Now I’m the one who’s calling in from the road. Sometimes the kids are out; sometimes they don’t feel like talking much. I missed sleepovers and concerts and games this year. I was away on Junior’s birthday.
I used to silently fume when Bob came home from a week on the road and said he just wanted to relax. I’d had a week’s worth of macaroni and cheese with the kids, after all, and I just wanted to get out of the house.
But recently I got back from a trip to New York – that trip’s a 6-hour flight when you live out on the west coast – walked in the door and pretty much collapsed. I thought about all the delayed flights, the missed connections, the rental cars and hotel rooms and canceled meetings in Bob’s past, and wished I’d remembered to say thank you a little more often.
Don’t get me wrong. I love, love, love my career. I’m thrilled to be traveling. I can barely believe my good fortune that I get to go to New York City several times this year. I even love the fact that after years of relying on other people to take care of all my travel plans, I now have my own frequent flyer and hotel and travel site accounts – my own (pink!) rollaboard – my own travel size everything and a wardrobe I can roll up into tiny wrinkle-free piles.
But it all comes at a cost. Tomorrow while I’m typing away, my babies will be rounding 5,000 feet elevation without me, and I’ll be off to the airport before they get back.
Anyone out there have any great summer travel planned? Travel horror stories? Comment for a chance to win a signed copy of my tour partner’s new book: A CAST-OFF COVEN by Juliet Blackwell. (Book tours are twice as nice when you take a friend along!)