There I am in my twenties.
It’s a chaotic scene — a flurry of fun and sun and heartbreak. There is wonderment and wandering and heart-wrenching moments of uncertainty and bewilderment.
Travel, I couldn’t get enough of it, along with noisy bars, booze, bad boyfriends, live music, and adrenaline-igniting adventures, such as glacier climbing, scaling rock faces, and jumping out of airplanes, for instance.
During my twenties, I never questioned whether I should have kids. The answer was indisputably clear — absolutely not.
Back then I was busy grabbing on to the rungs of the corporate career ladder and pulling myself up. Then there was the whole issue of my heart, which flip-flopped like a simmering pancake on a hot griddle. I am in love … oh no, but wait, I am not! Definitely not! Or maybe I am! I think I am. Maybe just a little. Nope, nope, nope … definitely not …'
My furniture, comprised mostly of other people’s castoffs, was portable and light. Most of it was easy to ditch, no strings attached.
I lived in a one-bedroom rental apartment in the heart of Parkdale, in Toronto, that I’d painted fire engine red. It had a big, ground level window overlooking that backyard that didn’t lock, which for some bizarre reason didn’t bother me that much.
I wrote about crime and fires and unspeakable tragedies. I interviewed musicians and authors and covered week-long film and music festivals.
There was no way in hell I was ready for kids.
Ha … proved you all wrong!
I didn’t even meet the man of my dreams — the man I eventually married — until my 30s. Heck, I didn’t even understand the importance of owning a good winter coat until then, so what kind of mother would I have made in my 20s?
I think we know the answer to that.
Are there 20-somethings in our culture that are mature enough, selfless enough, fiscally responsible enough, and dependable enough to become parents?
Sure, I just wasn’t one of them.
The closest I’d ever come to displaying signs of having a maternal instinct was caring for a plump, cranky cat that a guy at my work asked me to look after while he was on vacation.
The dude never returned.
I didn’t have the heart to send the cat packing (he was already riddled with abandonment issues), so I kept him.
My 20s, perhaps like yours, were a hazy daze of good times and bad, peppered with some very misguided misadventures.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
Yet, as I wrote that last line, I thought, but wait …
Maybe I would.
Maybe procreating earlier would’ve been the smart thing to do.
Certainly being a younger parent offers some undeniable advantages.
In your 20s, you have more energy and patience. You are likely less stubborn and not as set in your ways.
For females, you also have increased fertility, reduced health risks during pregnancy and, statistically speaking for men and women alike, the prospect of spending many more years with your children as you age.
Looking back, I occasionally suffer from the complicated retrospective of, "if only I knew then what I know now."
For instance, I wish I’d known about the intoxicating love parents feel for their children.
Until having our son two years ago, this was a strange and foreign concept about as believable as wacky alien enthusiasts making claims of crop circle formations in far-flung parts of the USA.
I wish I’d known that one lifetime — even one that might prove to be long and healthy — could never offer enough time with my child.
There is something else, too. And this one might make you cringe.
Remember the career I mentioned earlier? The one I’d been ambitiously digging my heels into day after day?
Well, for all of the thrilling cool factors my work has offered, it pales in comparison to parenthood. I don’t expect you to believe me. I wouldn’t have believed me. As if! I would’ve laughed. I might’ve even rolled my eyes.
So, I tell you this now — it truly does. You fall more deeply in love with your child every day and it is insane. That love, it eclipses everything. Like crop circles, you probably have to experience it to believe it.
But, you also have to be ready for it.
Thankfully, one day I was.
Sure, I am a bit crankier, achier, and, perhaps, I have less patience (and more laugh lines) than I used to, but I have also accumulated incredible stories, well-earned lessons, the occasional battle scar, and even some tidbits of wisdom along the way.
I’ve learned what is important and what isn't. I've experienced enough to know who I am and who I am not.
And I definitely know this — if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t want to change a single thing.
Read more posts by Tanya Enberg! Try these: 5 Reasons to Leave the Kids Behind on Your Next Vacation and Eight Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting a New Mom.
Johnny Cash has saved me on more than one occasion.
The beauty of Johnny Cash is that his music is timeless, as is the infectious, knee-slapping reaction we have to it. His songs continue, posthumously, to lift us up when life kicks us down.
One of my more memorable Johnny Cash moments happened during a road trip through Nashville, Tennessee. This came after a long overdue breakup. I needed to clear my head, hit the reset button, and decompress, and I thought the best way to do this was by stockpiling Johnny Cash CDs, flying to Nashville, renting a car, and hitting the road.
I drove and drove.
I was alone, save for the soothing baritone voice travelling through the speakers. When I arrived at the spectacular Natchez Trace Parkway, I slowed down to soak up the scenery. The beautiful tree-lined roadway and its gentle curves became a metaphor for all I’d been through and all I’d survived.
It was just me and Johnny with the windows down. I let in the air and sun and felt myself returning from a mental fog. The healing power of music and time were working their indisputable magic.
Once again, Johnny Cash has come to the rescue. The iconic musician recently managed to achieve what seemed impossible—his music calmed our crying child during the four-hour drive back to Toronto from Tobermory, where we had rented a cottage.
My husband was driving, so it was my job to try and tame the beast in the back seat.
Nothing was working, not snacks or books or toys or even his beloved bunny.
The dog was whining, our son was screaming, and I’d given up on the idea of a nice peaceful drive and decided it best to instead drown out the chaos with music.
Here’s Johnny . . . I wanted to slur like crazy Jack Torrance (played brilliantly by Jack Nicolson) in The Shining.
I cranked Folsom Prison Blues and you won’t believe what happened next—our son was instantly beaming and giggling and slapping his little hands against his legs along to the beat.
His cheeks turned into big, happy, dimpled apples as he grinned and danced in his seat.
“Again, again!” he chimed excitedly when the song ended, and so we played it again and he continued boogying away.
Then we moved on to other tunes from Johnny Cash’s extensive catalogue. They were all a hit with the kid. At last we have found our ticket to more pleasant car rides—Johnny, Johnny, and more Johnny.
Can’t say I blame the kid.
After all, without the spirit-lifting tunes of the late, great Johnny Cash, I really don’t know where I’d be today.
If you liked this, you might also like "5 Reasons To Leave The Kids Behind On Your Next Trip" and "Is Your Child Spoiled With Too Many Toys?"
Remember the time not so long ago when you and your partner tossed a few things in a bag and hit the road?
Ahh, yes, that was the sweet, easy, breezy time before your family packing list included a car seat, stroller, portable crib, stuffed animals, toys, crayons, books, and, finally, ridiculous amounts of emergency snacks to help ward off boredom and bouts of extreme crankiness.
Oh my, how travel has changed.
I am here to tell you that while travelling with kids offers plenty of playful perks, I believe it’s also important for couples to ditch the half-pints and sometimes just go on their own (this only after you’ve arranged responsible childcare, obviously).
My husband and I are avid globetrotters. We’ve done some of our jet-setting together and some of it apart. His journeys have taken him motorcycling throughout South America, and mine have led me backpacking in various areas of Africa twice. Nowadays, however, I just want a quiet place to rest my head.
For me, getting away without our son is a well-deserved reprieve from endless toddler demands. Perhaps you are familiar with this, it goes something like this—I want, I want, I want, I want.
Recently, for the first time since our son was born two years ago, we left our beloved child in the care of his grandparents for two nights and three days.
We decided not to venture too far, you know . . . just in case, and settled on Quebec City.
During the weeks leading up to our departure, we waffled.
“Maybe we should bring him?” my husband said.
“Leaving him feels entirely unnatural,” I said.
“Whose idiotic idea was this anyway?” I asked.
“Yours,” my husband said.
Despite our reservations, we forged ahead with our plans. I’d be lying if I said our fears diminished the instant we took flight. They did not. And yet, we still managed to have a good time (and, bonus, travel light).
Would I do it again? Heck, yeah.
1. Finally, you can eat wherever you want. Kid-friendly restos? Screw ‘em. You are adults and you get to pick the joint. Enjoy a leisurely lunch. Stretch out dinner. Heck, stay for dessert! You don’t have to shove meals down your throat as though you’re in a grotesque eating competition, or request the bill all panicky because your brood is getting cranky and loud and irrational. This time is for you, so chill. Eat like kings and queens and actually taste your food between bites.
2. Drink whatever you want. Finally, you can share a bottle of wine (or two or three if you have the gusto) and not fret about it. You can actually get tipsy without thinking, "Oh my god, I can’t have more than one glass because I am a responsible parent and what if something happens to junior ?" You’re on vacation and your offspring isn’t. Drink up!
3. So now that you’ve indulged in a decadent meal and added on a few layers of boozy primer, guess what? You can actually stay up late for a change and get, err, reacquainted. Have you forgotten what it’s like to have sex at night because you’re typically crushed by 8 p.m.? Welcome back the night, my friends, and put vacation sex back on the agenda.
4. You probably forget what it feels like to sleep in. Having kids forces you to be an early riser and it sucks. Truth is, you probably couldn’t sleep in now even if you tried. Instead, flop around in bed for a nice long while. Watch TV, snuggle beneath the sheets, brew a couple of cups of crappy hotel coffee, and answer to nobody.
5. Talk. Laugh. Breathe. This time together gives you a break from constantly being in knee-jerk reaction mode, responding to your little one’s demands, and allows you to focus on one another. Talk about subjects that wouldn’t make the PG cut and exist relatively schedule free. Soak it up, for the instant you walk back through that front door, your quiet time will be zapped into oblivion. Yes, it likely won't take long before that old familiar feeling of exhaustion returns, so it's a good thing you're supercharged and ready to go!
Searching for the perfect destination? Check out these 10 Top Canadian Tourist Hotspots to Add to Your Bucket List.
Giving in and taking the kids? Try one of these 14 Great Canadian Family Escapes.