Expectations

Today I’ve felt this vague unease. We are in a foreign country, on a trip I planned and have been looking forward to for so long, and I’ve just been feeling… off.

Yesterday we had a gorgeous, lovely, record-in-the-photo-album sort of travel day: we toured la Sagrada Famila and took a hop-on/hop-off bus around Barcelona. We’d been cooped up inside for a few days because of rain and jet lag, and it was so nice to get outside. We spent hours riding around the city, hopping off to check out things like the Placa Espanya and the stadium from the 1992 Olympics. The sun was shining and we were all transfixed by the Gaudi architecture and the general ambiance of the city. Then we came back to our sweet little apartment, ate leftover Lebanese food on the terrace, and went to bed. THIS was what I’d been imagining when I was planning our travels: idyllic sun-filled afternoons frolicking in Spanish plazas.

Then we woke up this morning.

The boys were not interested in doing much of anything today. I was feeling a great sense of urgency to do MORE before it started raining again. (What if we run out of time to do ALL THE THINGS?) They’d had a lovely, fun-filled day yesterday, and they needed a day to recharge. We were still getting our bearings after the time-zone shift (we’re six hours ahead of our normal time), so it really wasn’t a surprise. But still… I pulled out the map we’d been using to try to spark some interest in heading down to the beach.

“Can we swim?” they both asked.

Well, no. It’s still too cold.

“No thanks.”

What about a visit to a museum or a tour of a Gaudi masterpiece?

“Nope.”

I was so disappointed that we weren’t perfectly replicating golden yesterday. I may have even cried a little. (Don’t worry, it was private and miserable.) Why couldn’t they just be the way I wanted them to be? Why were they so willing to squander a gloriously sunny day? Didn’t they understand that it was going to start raining again!?!

We needed a few things, so I decided to pull myself together and walk to the store alone. Aidan noticed I was gathering my bag and shoes and came to investigate.

“Hey, can I go?”

So we walked: first to the store and then nowhere in particular. We talked awhile, found a great playground, and then headed home. We shared our find with Adam and Ian, and they headed out to play there a little while later.

I almost missed an opportunity for real connection with Aidan because I was focused on some idealized fantasy. Chasing perfect moments means we miss the precious mundane ones. Not only that, but I do not have the right to force the boys into conforming to my idea of a good time. They are human beings with virtually no power in this world or in our relationship, and it is my job as their mother to give them space for growth. If I had dragged them on some tour or to a museum we all would have been miserable. I need to continually remind myself to create situations in which I can parent AND travel with ease. That means meeting the boys where they are, not trying to muscle them to where I want them to be.

So, tomorrow is another rainy day.  We may spend it inside, or we may venture out. We have rain jackets.

 

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