Only a few days left

Just shy of a month ago I started an adventure of my dreams – a trip around Asia with my husband and five – now soon to be six – month old baby boy. I’m now sat in the north of Vietnam, surrounded by beautiful rice fields and mountains with only a few days left of this trip and am reflecting on what this time has given me and my family.

I think that I’ve mostly enjoyed the space that these travels have given me. Time away from the normal humdrum rhythm of life where there is washing to do, cleaning to avoid and constantly things to do or fix around the house. With Gregg by my side, it has been lovely to co-parent our son instead of being chief in charge of his care, snatching minutes to do little things for me or my coaching business here and there when Gregg gets back from work.

It’s also given me a glimpse of the reality of going back to work as, even with his daddy showering him with love, Jenson constantly reaches towards me for comfort when he’s tired, restless, upset or feeling any difficult emotion. And it makes sense because I have solely fed him, spent 90% of his life with him, slept curled around him. So I’m aware that, as much as it’s right for me to go back to work in just over a week, it’s going to be brutally hard at times. For Jenson, for Gregg and for me.

The new reality of parenthood has firmly sunk in (even more than it had before – if that’s possible!). Our trip away has been wonderful, but it has been at Jenson’s pace. We’ve been tucked up in bed by 10:30 at the latest, I’ve only had a few sips of the delicious alcohol over here and there has been less time for personal reflection as I would have done before, no hours spent journaling in beautiful cafes or reading for hours on beautiful beaches. It’s not bad or lesser or not preferable. It’s just not the same. And even though life will go back to a more similar version of what was before as Jenson finds his independence and grows up, I firmly know that my life has been changed forever as a mum.

And the life change has been wonderful in ways as we have been welcomed by the Cambodians and Vietnamese people we have met so warmly all because of Jenson. We’ve been engaged with so much more, had Jenson spirited away into a person’s arms so we could eat a meal as a couple and at times couldn’t walk 10 meters without someone coming up to talk to us about Jenson. He’s been cherished, loved and has enthralled the people we’ve met and has opened peoples hearts to show us more of these countries than I could have ever hoped.

This time has also shown me all that is possible with a baby. How it is possible to travel with children. How it is possible to live life as a parent without being in constant state of fear about what might happen. How parenting is about trusting my instincts instead of some ‘how-to’ book. How I can write my own rules as a mum. And that has been refreshing and eye-opening.

Finally, this trip has shown me that I’m not finished adventuring. As I said when I left Cambodia, I’ve loved exploring this part of the world, seeing new things and learning about other people and myself. While Gregg has shared with me that he is ready to come home, I’ve got a few more countries in me still. I feel that I could continue onto Laos or spend another month going to China to explore different cultures and places. There is so much of this world to explore and I am keen to see more of it!

Oh how I could go on – there is so much more I could reflect on as this trip as brought so much richness into my life but for now, this is enough. I’m off for a final walk of the day around this beautiful area of the world.

We’re off!

So here we are at Gatwick airport, just over an hour away from taking off on our family adventure in Asia.

Over 33 days we’ll explore and travel through Cambodia and Vietnam and I’m feeling a mixture of joy, exhaustion (I’ve been up since 4am with a certain someone!) and nerves at how this will all go.

Because this is new and scary to me in so many ways:

  • Taking a long-haul 17 hour flight with a baby
  • Caring for Jenson in the heat and humidity
  • Having time in Vietnam where we’ve got no firm plans (so we can go with the flow and plan a few days in advance instead of being stuck with plans if they don’t suit Jenson)
  • Travelling with my husband for over a month and being out of our comfort zones together
  • Having to barter when I don’t have much patience in me or fight to stand up for a fair price (at least not when I’ve been awake since 4am!)
  • Being out of a routine and far away from friends and family

And yet it’s also right for us as a family:

  • Starting our family as we mean to go on – full of adventures
  • Reconnecting with Gregg when so much of motherhood has involved a laser focus on Jenson and not much else
  • Learning and growing and exploring a part of the world that I have not yet seen
  • Making the most of our shared parental leave – a rare time when we can both be off work and still have money coming in
  • Exposing Jenson to difference at an early age
  • Learning to live with less – we’ve just taken one travel rucksack with us that weighs less than 18kg
  • Coming back with so many memories to treasure for a lifetime

And so into this adventure I leap.

Hesitant, full of anticipation but sure that this is the right step for me and my family