Everyone assumed that since I was living in Paris I was soaking up all the glorious cafes it has to offer. People aren't joking when they say that everything changes when you have kids. It's actually an understatement. Planets collide and nothing is as it was. Layers upon layers I try to create some semblance of a life. If we create the world around us then why am I choosing to create such a stress riddled life? Or do I really have a choice when I live with a toddler?
No, I'm not sitting at one of those cute round tables sipping on an espresso and smoking a cigarette. I'm pushing a stroller down a bumpy cobble stone street, starbucks in hand, trying not to spill it everywhere (which is truly impossible - it ends up dumping all over me, the stroller and the ground) as I hurriedly make my way to a park or some square before he starts screaming bloody murder. I get there - coffee cold and mostly gone at this point - and all he wants to do is find some dangerous object and hit me. REALLY?! When did I create this life? I didn't dream this up and go traipsing into the sunset with Duncan chasing behind me with a metal pipe. That wasn't what I had in mind....
There's a reason people have kids and move to the suburbs - because it's EASIER! And there's a reason people don't travel the world with their kids - because it's HARD! People tell me all the time how wonderful and amazing it is that having Duncan hasn't slowed me down. They say it enviably (if they have kids that have 'slowed' them down) or with total enthusiasm (if they don't have kids and see it as proof that they could do it too) but either way the reality is: it's hard. Sure it's an amazing experience - but will Duncan even remember it? Probably not. Traveling takes you out of the usual, trivial details of your life. But sometimes those trivial defining details are crutches to hold on to that help you through. Through the muck of the daily grind. I like the vision of myself running through a field needing no crutches at all. Endless opportunities and directions to go. Free as the wind. But that's not the case. With toddler in tow, things are not quite that boundless and light.
I ventured into a cafe with Duncan the other day. It was empty. I thought it would be safe. I quickly ordered a cafe´ and found a corner to try to contain him in. I anxiously awaited my drink while trying to entertain him. He was amused at the new surroundings. Things were looking good. I gulped down my coffee (luckily only two sips and you're done) and while I glanced outside to see if my friend was there yet, Duncan walked across the booth seat to the bar, picked up a glass and threw it. Why is that their instinct - to throw things? Cause and effect? I don't know, but thankfully the glass didn't break. I scooped him up, paid the bill and was on my way. I don't think we are ready for cafes yet.
The world moves fast. Life moves fast. Things are constantly changing. I hold on to this thought for a thread of sanity. It's all phases to get through and on to the next. Sometimes I stop and wonder "Is this really my life? Is this really what I have to deal with right now?!" The answer is yes. It's what I ordered up. It's my greatest lesson. My greatest meditation. And my greatest source of happiness. Things are like that. Double edged swords. And to find that middle ground between the ups and the downs is really the greatest gift you can give yourself. And really the only way to survive with a toddler.