Monday, September 3, 2012

Mommy Mondays: Have Toddler, Will Travel

(Scroll down to the next post for my GUTGAA Meet and Greet!)

Hello all! It's good to be back to blogging regularly! We have now been in Yekaterinburg for one full week, and I'm proud to say I haven't cried once. Yeah, I know that's not a big deal for most people, but it's a HUGE deal for me. (Confession that will come as a shock to absolutely no one: I'm *kinda* emotional.) Despite the fact that I feel like I'm doing a cracker jack job of adjusting to my new world, I am utterly exhausted. Like, newborn-up-every-few-hours-of-the-night exhausted, only I can't blame it on Jack. He's slept through the night for the past two nights, but I keep waking up in the middle of the night and finding myself unable to go back to sleep. My brain races with snippets of Russian, book ideas, worrying about how things are going to work out with the nanny, and mostly, the obsessive thought that I MUST GET BACK TO SLEEP! Last night I went to bed at 11, woke up at 2, fell back asleep at 6, and woke up at 7:30. So, yeah...I'm wiped. But I'm hanging in there, especially because my parents arrived at 4 a.m. today! I'm sooo happy to have them here, and extremely proud that they traveled for like 48 hours to get to Russia. And we have two full weeks together, so I imagine we'll know Yekat inside and out by the time they leave (and by Yekat I mean the mall).

But I digress. Today is Mommy Monday, so I thought it would be good to describe a little of what it's been like to live in a foreign country with a small child for one whole week (I'm tooootally an expert, right?). Honestly, it hasn't been too bad so far. The jet lag was rough the first few nights, but after one teeny tiny dose of Benadryl, Jack has been on a good schedule, even napping regularly and sleeping in until eight or later. And I gotta say, the kid is a trooper. Aside from his terrible airplane performance (next time we will definitely be breaking out the Benadryl; don't judge until you've been on a ten hour flight with a toddler who won't sleep!), he's proven himself to be remarkably resilient. He's been sleeping in a pack n' play for weeks without complaint, he's been making do with the same eight toys since the move, and he's even been well behaved at late dinners out. I would be extremely lonely without him to keep me company throughout the day, and his smiling face and infectious giggles are just the distraction I need when I start to feel a little overwhelmed by this whole situation.


(There's always a but, isn't there...)

There have been a few moments when I've thought to myself, "Man, this would be a lot easier without a kid." The travel part is obvious. But we are also the only Americans at post with a child. That means that when everyone decides to get together for dinner, we either bring Jack or stay home (at least until we find a babysitter). And frankly, I understand that not everyone wants a toddler interjecting at mealtime with an exclamation of, "CLOCK! Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-a-ling-a-ling!" (Thank you to Abby's Flying Fairy School for that little gem.) But I also don't want to segregate ourselves in the early stages when it's important to get to know everyone, and I've been eager to get out of the house in the evenings, since I'm still kind of terrified of venturing out alone (having Mom and Dad here helps, fortunately).

All the single people here travel a ton, some nearly every weekend. I envy them that freedom. They can go out a lot, make new friends, spend all their disposable income on food and clothing and vacation. They can meet family and friends in Europe without multiplying their airfare by three. On top of all that, I suspect that living in a big city is a lot more appealing when you don't have to worry about the safety of your small child. I'm willing to close my eyes and cross my fingers when it comes to Yekat's tap water (we drink only distilled water, but apparently some people don't even consider that safe), but I nearly have a heart attack every time Jack eyes the bathwater like it's a tasty beverage. Yes, many of these things are true in the "real world," but it all seems exaggerated at post.

And yet.

(You knew I wasn't going to end with that, right?)

I wouldn't trade my family for all the leather goods in Europe. At the end of the day, I have a husband who loves me and an amazing little boy who brings me more joy and laughter than I could hope for. Sure, we may not get to travel as much or go out three nights a week, but the memories we make are all the more special because we have each other to share them with.

Now all we need are some frequent flyer miles, a good babysitter, and the occasional dose of Benadryl.


Erin Kent said...

Mara! So glad to see you blogging from Russia! I'm so glad that you guys are getting settled, and how wonderful that you are braving this adventure together. I look forward to following your adventures/misadventures over the months to come!

Anonymous said...

I still haven't quite figured this out.....glad family has arrived and are with you. The next few weeks will be extra special for you all and many dicoveries to be had.
Enjoy ! Sounds as though you and jack are adapting about a little Benedryl for Mom??? :-)
Wonderful humour you are bringing to the new experience- way to go, gal :-)
Hugs from us, The Cutlers