As I write this, I’m sitting in Oman, in Jabal al-Akhdar overlooking the canyon below. My blog has taken a backseat the past few months, not because there’s been a lack of content, but because I’ve been adjusting to my new normal, balancing two hotels, a busy (thankfully!) travel agency, and a new baby, in addition to my blog. For the past 13 years though, this blog has been my personal space to capture the moments. I always hope posts are useful for readers with actionable intel, but the reason I began blogging – and the reason I continue to blog – is in large part as a way to remember all of our adventures. As time goes on and as our travels increase, one trip often bleeds into the next, and weeks and months pass in a blink. With a new baby in tow, it’s been harder to sit down and document my thoughts and notes, but I’m also realizing that perhaps it’s more pertinent than ever.
Today Kaia turns 4 months old. In that time she’s visited 8 countries, been on as many flights, and stayed in as many hotels. I’ll have more to share from our time in Dubai and Muscat (and our forthcoming time at Zighy Bay), but in the past few days in the mountains of Oman, I’ve had some postpartum revelations that I’m feeling in a major way. I’ve spent the past 15+ years traveling the world as an adult and/or as part of a couple, but never as a mother and never as a ‘family’. Travel hits differently now. We’ve vowed to not stop because it’s something that drives and fuels us but in all honesty, it would be easier to stay home with an infant. Choosing to travel takes effort and there’s a transitional moment of realizing that travel won’t quite be the same as it was pre-kids. Naturally, we (collective human ‘we’, not just Scott and I) are a bit ashamed of talking about that; of perhaps admitting that we have to say goodbye to part of our past selves, and that goodbye may come with a bit of mourning. That’s not to say that we would trade it or that we’re not so appreciative of being able to bring our new (long-awaited!) addition along on these trips, but the travel we once knew is written in a chapter we’ve closed. One day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, our travels will resemble what they once were: more adventures, exploration, fewer time constraints, more peace and relaxation, etc. For now, though, they’re quite different.
I’ve felt this acutely in Oman, a destination that’s long been on my wishlist. Outings aren’t spontaneous; they require going through the mental checklist (diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, change of clothes, etc., etc.). The souq we’d normally wander aimlessly for hours was a destination we had to handle with caution: a few hours tops given her feeding schedule, making sure we have formula prepared and stored properly and that we’re mindful of the heat. Dinners are constantly an unknown quantity and pre-dinner drinks at a rooftop bar are of course not a thing. In Jabal al Akhdar, where the destination is focused around activity, we’ve had to skip the hikes we’d typically go on, limit our outings (again, heat and feedings), and skip pool time in favor of our balcony to account for some fussy afternoons that we’d rather not subject other travelers to. We’re leaving experiencing Oman very differently now than we would have just one year ago.
Yet, sitting on our balcony as a family, watching the sun set over the Al Hajar mountains and listening to the evening call to prayer, I also felt grateful. Grateful that she’s going to have opportunities to live in these moments and be shaped by the people and places she’ll encounter around the globe. One day she’ll need us less. One day she’ll be able to interact with these cultures and people and cuisines in a more palpable way. One day she’ll take part in deciding where we go and which destinations ignite her. That ‘one day’ is not right now, but it’ll be here before we know it, and I know we’ll look back on these fleeting moments wishing them back for a brief second with her tiny little body draped on us as she goes to sleep. It’s not that parenting an infant and traveling the world are mutually exclusive things; of course they’re not and we’re living proof that a little one doesn’t have to put a pause on your other passions and the other things that make you you. That said, traveling with an infant is teaching us to slow down. It’s teaching us to enjoy the smaller things and recognize that we’re making different types of memories right now. As she grows, the core memories we share will evolve, but for today we celebrate her four-month birthday in the mountains of Oman, sipping saffron tea and watching the sun go down on another day.