The mother of one of Darla's friends approached me last week to set up a playdate for our daughters. I was immediately intimidated. She's an effortlessly chic woman in such a way that makes me feel like one of the Three Stooges by comparison.
"This weekend isn't good," she said. "We'll be out of town."
"Oh, us too," I say proudly, but very casually as if to make it seem I was as jet set as she. "Are you going to be around this summer? We can work out more playdates then."
"No, well be in France with my family," she said with a frown.
"Oh how fun," I say with an embarrassing level of enthusiasm saved for High School Spirit Squads. I was blowing it with this mom already. She'll figure out I'm a total doofus within no time. "We'll be traveling a bit, too."
I didn't mention that both excursions were trips to San Diego to see my family. I suddenly felt ashamed for having such bravado about my travel plans. It didn't sound quite as amazing as a summer vacation to France. San Diego is only a couple of hours from my home and should be easy trips to make. Despite this, I find them to be just as stressful as traveling to another continent since I have a very hard time stepping out of my routine.
This isn't something specific to me being a parent; I was definitely on the verge of panic attacks when I thought of traveling before I had kids. I would rage for days before and agonize over departure times. I onetime flew so far off the handle that Greg, right in the middle of a fight over packing and getting on the road, decided he needed to meditate. He sat on the brown leather armchair in my room and closed his eyes. In that moment, I wanted to destroy him. In hindsight, I assume he did that because he had only recently moved to California and he thought that's what everyone did in the middle of a fight. Needless to say, that car ride to San Diego was brutal for all parties involved.
It has just gotten worse with age. With debilitating anxiety in tow, I still make the effort to travel, though. It usually ends in emotional disaster for me while the kids have a blast, oblivious to my panic attacks.
This is why my anxiety starts to pickup a week before and I spend every day mentally packing and regretting my decision to leave the comfort of my home. I need my bed. I need my pillows. I need my dresser full of clothes I hate (as opposed to a suitcase of clothes I hate). I need to know every nook and cranny of the place I'm staying, otherwise I feel upset and out of sorts. I, also, need the kids to be in their own rooms, with their blackout curtains, and their white noise machine overpowering any sounds that might penetrate their room. Most important, I need to know I won't be woken up at 5:00am, which is what always happens when I'm traveling with the kids.
Much to the dismay of my adventurous family, I keep my excursions outside of Los Angeles to a minimum. I won't tell Darla's friend's mom that, though. I would like her to think that I'm not as basic as being afraid to travel would suggest. Maybe I can lead her to believe that we'll be backpacking through Spain this summer.