It was the night before our first trip with Mona Lu. So of course, I was running through all the things that could possibly go wrong. Doing what a mom does best. I became obsessed with the statistic set by car seat manufacturers that infants should not be in a car seat for more than two hours in a 24 hour period. The reason? Death by suffocation.
The risk is super low. If there really is any at all. Not that a company wants to be held responsible for the death of a baby in the off chance it might happen. Which makes it difficult to discern between real concerns and those put in place for liability purposes.
As I lay awake wondering whether Mona’s neck strength would suffice during the seven hour trip, my mind raced with whether it was too soon. A sentiment that often arises when it comes to my kids. The part of me that wrestles with protecting them at all costs versus letting them fly.
It will be fine, my husband says.
As he always does.
And he shows me articles that support his logic. In my heart, I know he’s right. But when it comes to my babies, sometimes even logic isn’t enough.
With myself wedged firmly between two car seats, we hit the road. Each bump and curve and swerve in the road jostling her tiny body and my soul. That heightened hormonal maternal instinct that follows childbirth on maximum alert.
But we made it there without a hitch, both kids peacefully fading in and out of sleep the entire ride.
First stop, Santa Marianita.
A sleepy beach town just outside of Manta off the coast of Ecuador.
With an AirBnB situated right on the water, the accommodations were modest. The best we could find last minute that would take our large dogs. But it worked. We packed too much of some things. Not enough of others. And succeeded in maintaining the tranquility of home in unfamiliar surroundings with limited amenities. Because when it comes to traveling with a family.
It’s all about the details.
The things you don’t consider.
Or forgot on top of the kitchen counter.
But you live.
And putting yourself in the unknown is the first step. Without all your normal gear. The routine. The comforts of home that make life easier to manage. And you see how it goes gaining confidence in each lesson.
Like when your friend strongly suggests you find a rental with air conditioning.
A couple of days later we moved ourselves twenty minutes into the main town of Manta swapping out sweaty nights in a studio for cool and comfortable in a condo that had all the fixings. My favorite being a balcony that overlooked the ocean. The second being in-unit laundry to clean the swampy beach smells from our clothes. Instead of a strip of bamboo huts that closed down during the week leaving us without quick eats, we had food delivery right to our door.
Because we’re not who we used to be. Content with a bathing suit and a pair of flip-flops. We’re parents now. And with that comes great responsibility that didn’t apply to our previous selves. Food and water at regular intervals. Bedtimes and adequate rest. A place where you can hygienically change a diaper. So the way we travel has shifted from something that can fit within a backpack to a suitcase strapped to the top of our car. And maybe a little bit of convenience to go along with it. The difference between a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere and a place with a park and a corner store to grab snacks. Far from the days when winging it was our way of life where the sunsets look the same, but feel much more satisfying.