His first trip, in utero, was to Banff, Canada. As I hiked through knee-deep snow along the Athabasca Glacier, 10-weeks pregnant and recently recovered from the flu, I couldn't help but notice just how extremely tired I was.
|10-months-old practicing water safety on Galveston Bay, Texas with his uncle and cousin|
He turned out to be a colicky baby and a strong-willed toddler. At Thanksgiving, we drove to Houston for him to meet his extended family. One of his baby toys was a Winnie-the-Pooh that played a 12-second ditty whenever I squeezed its tummy. The only way to keep our baby calm during the long drive was to continuously play that song over and over (and over and over...) again. My hand was tired! Trips to the grocery store were filled with crying, and grannies would kindly inquire what was wrong with my baby. Back then, I couldn't imagine bringing him on a plane.
|7-years-old in Vancouver, Canada near Science World|
When he was 22-months-old, we took our first trip that didn't involve visiting family. That's when we started our balancing act of developing an itinerary that would take into consideration both adults and a child. We made our way through Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Hershey, Pennsylvania. Everyone was pleased with the Hershey Chocolate Factory. He loved Sesame Place, and hubby and I enjoyed seeing historical Philadelphia — on the Fourth of July, no less.
|8-years-old on top of Pikes Peak, Colorado|
But one other memory stands out, too. While on our scenic boat tour of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, my toddler continuously attempted to jump overboard. I ended up wrapping my arms and legs around him to keep him on the boat, and he wailed for most of the trip. I'm sure that's not what the other tourist had in mind when they bought their tickets. For a long, long time after that, I wouldn't go on a public tour unless I had an Exit Strategy where I could easily whisk my kid away if his mood went downhill.
|9-years-old at Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Disneyland, California|
He celebrated turning five-years-old in San Diego with a trip to LEGOland. For this birthday, he's requested a visit to the newly opened LEGOland Malaysia. That San Diego trip also marks the last time when we weren't slaves to the school year calendar. No more traveling during the off season for us. Luckily, our current school has a long weekend every month.
|9-years-old at Acadia National Park, Maine|
When he was seven, hubby decided we needed to come up with a 10-year plan for summer vacations. I thought this was crazy at the time but have come to see the value in it. We only had a decade of summer vacations left before he started university, and there was so much to see. Our family traveled everywhere from Hawaii to Maine, Florida to Vancouver. The summer of 2011 was supposed to be Yellowstone National Park. A year beforehand, I excitedly booked our rooms with a view of Old Faithful. Instead, we ended up moving to Malaysia and had to temporarily shelve the U.S. version of our multi-year plan. Time to draw up a new one focusing on Asia!
|10-years-old at the top of Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii|
As a new mom, I quaked in my shoes at the thought of family travel. Looking back, there's still no way I would have brought this son along on an international trip as an infant. If it were his little sister on the other hand, she would have had no trouble bouncing around the world as a baby. But parents are a lot like kids. You have to figure out each individual's capacity for being challenged and stretched like a rubber band and know when to stop before it breaks. That point is different for each person. As the years went by, we reached the point where family travel didn't seem like it would break us. I try to look at myself with grace and know that the mother I was in the beginning couldn't do it, but I eventually grew into a mother who could.
|11-years-old at Disney's California Adventure Animation Academy|
There's a saying that goes, "The days are long, but the years are short." As time has passed, that colicky baby grew into a fine teenager who passed me in height months ago. He takes up feats like soaring through the trees and amusement park thrill rides that are more daring than what his mama is willing to try. He can help pack the car and retrieve luggage at the airport. This week, he cooked us a delicious dinner and helped his sister study for a test. He even asked to decorate his own birthday cookie cake. My baby is growing up, and I can't wait to continue exploring the world with him.
|12-years-old at Victoria's Peak, Hong Kong|
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY TEEN BOY!
Here's to reaching new heights.
This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.