Mountain Chic

Reflections and observations on culture, food, style and travel

TakingPhotosInVienna

{Meta in Vienna: Photographing my husband photographing me. We took a 24-hour trip to Vienna from Prague, and it was glorious to be back in one of my favorite cities.}

Wanderlust defined me for most of my 20s and 30s.  No person or thing made me as happy as traveling, and there was a time in my life when I was confident I never needed an actual, long-term home.  I sought out as many opportunities as possible to spend months abroad; I spent a semester in Great Britain when I was in college, I lived in Vienna for a summer when I was 28 after being awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and I traveled through Central America for a summer with my now-husband when I was 30.  In between these trips I squeezed in dozens of others, in the States and abroad.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I started dating my husband 12 years ago – I found someone who loved traveling as much as I did, and who was also an educator, so we had the same vacations…and lots of them!  In fact, it’s our mutual love for adventure that has kept us going in the toughest of times. 

OnPlaneBeforeLeaving

{On the plane before our 9-hour flight to Frankfurt, where we met our connection to Prague}

Part of the reason we delayed having kids was because we loved traveling so much.  Of course, we knew we could bring kids along on our adventures.  But honestly, until I was in my late 30s, I didn’t experience urges to start a family.  Commitments made me nervous.  Kids made me uncomfortable.  I wasn’t a nesting type.  I preferred flying.

MeAtRathaus

{In front of the Rathaus in Vienna}

But then, you know, life changes.

Finn

Tim and I have traveled out of the country without our son a few times since he was born, the first time when Finn was just 8 months old.  We are fortunate Finn’s grandparents live close by and clamor to spend time with him, and he loves staying at their house as much as they love having him.  So, I’ve never worried that Finn will be in good hands.  But the older Finn gets, the harder it is to leave him.  Even though, at 3 years old, he’s in a difficult “threenager” phase, I’m more attached to him now than ever.  As we prepared for our trip, my usual excitement was dampened by my worry about leaving him and my terror that something horrible would happen to either him or to us when we were apart.  I was tormented by irrational thoughts for months before our trip.  I even thought about writing a blog post about it before we went, but didn’t, for fear that by articulating my thoughts I’d be cursing myself.

Cathedral

It’s unthinkable to my former self that I’d ever question jumping on a plane to Europe.  After lots of reassurance from my husband, I decided I had to have faith everything would be okay.  And… the trip was amazing.  There are few times since I became a stay-at-home mom that I’ve truly felt like my old self.  But roaming those cobblestone streets, remembering how brave and inquisitive and possibly naïve and stupid I’d been, reminded me of who I am, besides being Finn’s mom.

BreakfastInVienna

{Breakfast in Vienna}

We have a good friend who lives and teaches in Bangkok, Thailand, and he stays with us once a year when he travels home to the States for an annual visit.  Tim and I practically salivate when he tells us all about his amazing trips – he and his wife don’t have children and work at an international school, and it seems they’ve now been almost everywhere on the planet.  But last summer when he was here and telling us we had to come to Asia to visit him, I remember telling him a little bit about this crushing fear I get leaving Finn.  And he said, so simply, “Well of course.  I mean, now you’ve got something to live for.”

TimInVienna

{Tim in Vienna}

He’s right.  Having a kid certainly changes the dynamics of travel and affects my wanderlust.  And Finn is the most important thing I live for.  For the first time in my life, I don’t mind so much staying put.  But this trip to Europe also reminded me that a full life means you have all kinds of things to live for, and reawakened that part of my soul that urges me to always be true to myself so I can be the best person and mom.  Because I know what’s coming…  Though I adore my Finn and the little nest we’ve created for him, someday all too soon he’s going to want to fly.  I want to support his flight; I want to lead him by example; and, most importantly, I’d never want to hold him back from an adventure because of my own fear.

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