We are staying for several days in San Francisco with our friends Megan and Brodie. In Loomis, CA we visited Katie and Randy, and in Seattle we saw Teri and Shelby. All couple friends without kids of their own in the house who graciously provided our kids with some of the constant adult attention they so crave.
I love watching Bear interact with new adults. I love that everyone has something new to teach him - what he may be currently missing in socialization with his peers he is making up in piano lessons with Megan and ukulele lessons with Randy. He is being exposed to (and hopefully absorbing) Katie's kind attentiveness, Brodie's creative storytelling, and Shelby's dry wit. He's soaking up love and cuddles and Fruit Ninja skills from Teri.
And while I watch Bear learn so much from these other adults, I know we are also being watched. Every couple's situation is different, but there is a sense (sometimes implied, sometimes explicitly stated) that we are acting as ambassadors from the World of Breeders. I did not, needless to say, ask for this position. I do not feel like I have this gig down.
But I also don't know what to hope for - do I really want to make parenting look so good that everyone I know runs out to procreate? That sees awfully self-satisfied. I don't know if parenting is the best choice for everyone. On bad days I'm not even sure it was the best choice for Benjamin and I. I may not be parenthood's most enthusiastic salesperson.
I'm especially struck by Brodie, who does interesting volunteer work and has many hobbies that are little worlds unto themselves that it is clear I will never visit. At least not in the next 20 years. He's teaching himself Japanese and doing Taiko drumming - these are things that are so not going to happen for me.
I have work and I have kids and I am told that this is Having It All. But it isn't. Because no matter how full my life is, I cannot choose everything. There are experiences that I will not have, paths I simply did not take. Some things are there waiting for me if I decide to go back to them. Like exploring Portland, I can do that later. But some things have passed me by for good - and if I had picked these things I would not have the life and experiences I have now.
And this, dear readers, is why we've uprooted our family to have this crazy adventure. Because we get a limited set of years in which to experience what the world has to offer - no sense spending all those years doing the same thing.
San Francisco is gorgeous. We dropped off the RV at the Cruise America dealership (we got a sweet deal on RV rental because we were delivering it from the outfitter in Chicago to the rental center in San Francisco) and spent some time sorting and washing and packing for the next phase of our journey. But we also got to spend some quality time with Megan and Brodie and take in a bit of what the city has to offer.
On Saturday we went for a walk on the beach, which is two blocks from Megan and Brodie's house. Bear wore his Princess Elsa dress and ran far out ahead of us adults. We changed directions when he dictated we should. He got to be in charge and I got to speak to adults - it was magical.
On Sunday we explored Golden Gate Park, starting with people-watching at the playground (many schools of parenting and many thousands of dollars of strollers were on display) and finishing with bird watching at the lake (baby geese and baby storks!) with some phenomenal ice cream in between.
On Monday Megan had to work and Brodie had to supervise the construction project going on at their house, so the four of us set out to be un-apologetically touristy. We rode a cable car and went to Fisherman's Wharf. Sea lions were viewed, more ice cream consumed. We were all in good spirits until the end of the outing.
Getting back to Megan and Brodie's was a low point in the trip - an unfortunate confluence of no-nap preschooler, crowded public transportation, low blood sugar all around, and a flat tire made for a difficult evening. And when I say 'difficult' I mean 'closing my eyes, counting to ten while fantasizing about flying back to Baltimore alone.' But we made it back (shout out to Jon from Uber!), and got packed down to six suitcases and four carry-ons for the next leg in our journey.
|Benjamin gives Brodie baby-wrangling pointers: "Don't drop her."|
|In retrospect, they may have been trying to tell me something.|
|Harvey the cockatoo!|
|Pax is such a happy baby!|
|Bear got up early and got into the lollipop stash.|
|Walking 3 blocks for delicious breakfast sandwiches sure is exhausting.|
|And I thought MY cosleeping arrangement was cramped!|