Greg and I had the privilege and the pleasure of accompanying Grace on her first ‘known’ flight last week. It was a really awesome experience and I learned a lot on this trip.

1. Tenacity brings results.
Grace has wanted to fly for a long time. It does not matter that we tell her she has flown – twice! She has no memory of those trips and therefore, quite rightly, they did not really happen. Not to her. So we told her that when she turned four she could go with Mommy on a business trip. And from then on we had regularly scheduled inquiries, “Am I four yet?” When she turned four she got a suitcase for her birthday and when someone asked her what it was for she happily replied, “To take to the airport!” And then, knowing how tenacious our girl would now be – we booked the trip. When you know what you want – you need to go for it!

2. Life is an adventure that can easily be missed.
I get to ride, not one, but TWO, escalators on the way out of the Atlanta airport. Not only that, but I also get to ride two trains – one of which is underground and one of which is on rails, really high above ground. A hotel is a lot like a house – for a whole lot of people – and the two we stayed in were “Atlanta’s house” and ” Columbus’ house”. Walking down the street in a new place should take TIME people. How else could you explore every statue and window and new sight? I saw every single place we went with brand new eyes. A trip I’ve taken monthly for six years was brand new to me. I couldn’t believe how zoned out I had become during my journey – with Grace it was ALL about the journey. And really, it is all about the journey, right? There is really only one destination and we should all pay attention during the trip.

3. Everyone is a new friend until proven otherwise
We went down to the pond at Atlanta’s house to swim (read: swimming pool at the hotel) and the next day Grace wanted to know if she could go swim at the pond with her friends again at Atlanta’s house. You know, the kids that were at the pool that we didn’t really even talk to? Her friends? Another night we were able to go out to eat with some of the people I work with. Everyone was so sweet and kind to Grace and so gracious to Greg and I – they were friends, not just co-workers.

4. Discretion is lost on a toddler.
Grace also got to go to my office – it was a lot of fun to show her off in real life to all the people who only know her through the 10,000 iphone pictures I am always ready to share. And there I learned that, with a toddler, you really need to point out what’s private and what’s public. I had discreetly stepped away to the ladies room and learned that in my absence Grace had informed one of my coworkers (male, of course) that, “Mommy is going potty.”

5. Attachment parenting is really sweet
I struggle, as we all do, with what the right way to parent is and I’ve finally decided it is whatever is ‘right’ for you. That being said, I have, in my heart, always loved the attachment parenting movement. Were I a stay at home, mother of leisure – I may have been a full on attached momma. But I am not and we have had an independent daughter from day one, who really preferred to sleep alone. Even as an infant, when she wanted to sleep, she would insist on being put down and left alone. I know this sounds like a blessing to anyone dealing with a child who fights sleep, but I missed out on the snuggles with Grace. Well, on this trip we shared a hotel room and a king sized bed and Miss Grace had no choice but to snuggle down in the middle and sleep and it was really lovely. There was the one morning that we woke with a little foot in each of our faces, but for the most part it was just that breath on your cheek, that warm, sleep heavy little body, that vision of silence and peace. Did I say lovely? Lovely.

6. Express yourself.
We went to the GA Aquarium (highly recommend it) over the weekend and several times throughout our visit Grace would spontaneously turn and exclaim, “I am so happy!” or “I am having so much fun!” What a treat that was to hear her voice her joy and satisfaction with the world. We should all share, with such enthusiasm and abandon, our positive feelings about the world and one another.

7. You can never be too careful.
Each morning Grace would wake up and say, “Where’s Elijah?” We thought this was just heartbreakingly sweet until one day she woke up and before she was able to truly wake up, she was up gathering all her toys and putting them in her suitcase as fast as she could. Greg asked her why and she said, “So Elijah doesn’t get them.”

8. Fun is what’s fun to you.
Greg and Grace went to the pool every day. Every day they went to the pool. Grace never got off the first or second step of the pool and she had a blast. We knew there was a whole lot of fun to be had if she were willing to take the chance, but she wasn’t and she had a whole lot of fun right where she sat. True, there will come a time when we will either gently force the issue, or she will finally decide to take the plunge – but you do things in the right time and vacation wasn’t the right time. Sometimes, you just need to let things be when they don’t need to be pushed. Enjoy the safety of the first step while appreciating the awesome opportunity of the entire pool for awhile.

9. Let them jump in the puddles.
The same day we went to the Aquarium it rained, a lot. By the time we left though, it had stopped. We had a long drive ahead of us but nothing really planned. As we were walking around outside, Grace noticed some puddles. She didn’t get in them, just kind of walked near them and shuffled around. She was screaming what she wanted to do, even in her silence. So I said, “Grace – you need to go jump as high as you can in that puddle!” And she did, in that puddle and every other one she could find. She was literally soaked by the time we got to the car, and it was awesome, truly. My only regret? I didn’t join her.

10. There’s no place like home.
By the end of our trip we were all missing Elijah, a lot. Even Grace was asking about him more and wanting details – who was he with, where were they staying, what were they doing? When we saw Elijah at the airport it was almost as if he thought he was having a halluncination, and then, on the double take, we got the biggest grin and running hugs. We all slept good that night, knowing that we were all close and in our familiar beds.

Doing the unfamiliar is wonderful and our trip is something we will remember for a long time. Not because it was such an awesome vacation though. We will remember it because it was a normal week for us, made extraordinary by the company we kept and the privilege of seeing the ordinary through the eyes of our daughter.



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