Before I had kids, I traveled a lot. My goal was to pack light, walk fast, and take the trip of a lifetime at least every other year, and that’s pretty much what I did. It wasn’t even a question; I assumed that once I was married with kids, we’d take our children on new adventures, maybe even live abroad.
We took our firstborn on a dozen airplanes before he turned two, and I was proud of it. But when our daughter came along, things changed.
We knew two kids would make getting out harder. Many of you have been there. Less expected was the extra challenges we faced with our daughter. Her first year included a nightmare of feeding problems, medical appointments, tests, and eventually a diagnosis of Angelman Syndrome.
Whenever we’d try to go somewhere with both kids, I found myself struggling to remember all the special things we’d need to pack: extra burp cloths, lots of pacifiers, rigged baby gear to keep her from tipping in a shopping cart or high chair. The list grew: spare batteries for her hearing aids, seizure meds, feeding pump, syringes. Forgetting a Wubbanub at home became a near-tragedy. (She literally wouldn’t stay asleep for 5 minutes without one.) And then we had to get her potty-training brother out the door, too.
Once, we got all the way to the entrance of Universal CityWalk, after that marathon walk from the parking garage…only to discover I’d forgotten her bottles. Her pricey, hypoallergenic formula and Dr. Brown’s bottles were the only way she could eat. It was either give up for the day and go home, or find the closest baby store and buy enough supplies to get us through the afternoon. We chose the latter and came back to the park. Her supplies cost more than our dinner at the theme park.
Was it worth it? Probably not. But we did it anyway.
This scenario is a familiar one now. Two hours of work to go somewhere, only to find we forgot a feeding tube extender or misplaced a hearing aid.
So many times I’ve contemplated doing something fun and asked myself: Is this worth it? Is it worth packing up both kids just for an hour at the mall? Is it worth a wrestling match feeding session just to eat at a restaurant? Worth packing up the feeding pump just to get some fresh air? I found the answer was almost always NO. Nope, not worth it. Pretty much ever.
But what good is that question really? Doesn’t it just talk me out of living? Or make me feel worse about an already-gone-wrong day? I started to realize that if I kept making decisions based on whether things were worth it, we would be living on lockdown for a long time.
Now we have a third little one, a preemie-turned-newborn with his own challenges. Leaving the house is definitely a luxury. I spend plenty of time at home in clothing one step up from pajamas.
Doing it anyway
Now I’ve learned to stop asking that awful question: Is it worth it? Nope. But sometimes we just do anyway.
Life hasn’t gone the way we planned over the past couple of years, but it’s not going to continue going how I planned, either. It will always be hard for us to get out. We have to keep living.
One day earlier this week, I spent most of the morning feeling sorry for myself as my husband and I mapped out the week ahead, complete with seven therapy and medical appointments. SEVEN. And this is not uncommon for us.