Thursday, April 28, 2011

Travel Plans

I had originally thought that the summer, when Raphaela has a vacation from Gan in any case, would be the best time to travel to the States.  My sister-in-law is due to give birth some time in July, and it would be nice for Raphaela to meet her new cousin and play with the other children in the family.  Growing up, my grandmother worked hard to get all the aunts and uncles and grandchildren togethe at least twice a year;  to know each other and see each other as friends as well as relatives. Because of geography (by choice), Raphaela will not experience that.

Then I called the airlines, and it would cost me close to $4,000 just to fly in August, not counting all the expenses and shopping once we arrive.

Then I thought that Thanksgiving presents a wonderful opportunity to see the family for a holiday, and the plane tickets are certainly cheaper.  I had resolved to book the tickets once Pessach ended and life in Israel returned to "normal."

But last night, I lay in bed thinking about the experience of traveling with a two year old, and remembering that the last few trips to visit my family have provided more trauma than family bonding.  I felt selfish but honest, announcing to my four walls that as much as I want Raphaela to know her family - especially since she technically has only one side of relatives - I don't want to go to the East Coast for two days, nevermind two weeks.

I don't want Raphaela to miss nursery, I don't want the hassle of the trip, and I don't want to go with rosy expectations of spending quality time with my siblings and my parents, and inevitably feel disappointed and hurt.

Not to mention that moving will cost money, and no one in my family is volunteering to help pay for the expenses of traveling and missing work.

I don't know what to do, and have consulted with my brother.  If we can spend at least one week at his home in Washington DC and then the holiday itself in Boston, it would go a long way toward making the trip emotionally bearable.


koshergourmetmart said...

with regards to missing nursery, RR will not really "miss" anything like she would if she were in grade school. At that age, she will get more out of one on one time with you as well as seeing new places and family members. Now that she is getting more verbal and more interactive, your relatives may react differently to her on this visit.

midlifesinglemum said...

I disagree wit Koshergourmet. At this age my daughter gets far more from a day at gan than she gets from a day at my mother's small apartment with wall-to-wall daytime TV, and seeing allthe relos after work and at weekends. Travelling with a 2-yo is very traumatic as you say. I would wait a year, or two, when she will appreciate it more and be easier to travel with. Also, when she is in Ironi Gan they have more holidays.

On the other hand - you only pay 10%for her until she turns two, so you may want to do one more cheaper trip.

Doc said...

No, actually from what my travel agent told me, if Raphaela needs her own seat (which she does with her height and her level of activity) I will be paying 75% on her ticket.

koshergourmetmart said...

I agree with you midlife that your daughter gets more from a day at gan if the alternative is sitting in front of a tv all day. RR will not be doing that-she will be spending quality time with Mom having new experiences and seeing new things. Traveling with a 2 year old is definitely a challenge but so is travelling w/a 4 year old

Commenter Abbi said...

plane tickets have nothing to do with height or weight. It's solely by age. You don't have to pay until she turns two. Now, it's an incredibly difficult ride with an almost two year old on your lap, but if you want to save money, it would be worth it to go before she turns two.

If you really don't want to go, then don't go. Also, August is the height of the travel season. What about June or July? You might have better luck with those months.

Take advantage of the younger years. It really doesn't matter if she misses gan or not now, like it does with school.

Amy Charles said...

As I recall, last time you went, quality time didn't so much happen.

Look, that's a lot of money, and if your parents are jumping up to help you with it, I'm not hearing about it. I know this story: it goes, "Oh, you decided to take yourself out of our lives by living so far away, we didn't know you wanted anything to do with us." Not that they're really going to bang the door down trying to connect.

You know what? Put that money away for your sweetie. Because I think you might be surprised by how much doesn't wind up coming her way from your folks. Notwithstanding that other post, I really don't mean that in a bitter way, just a realistic one. It sounds like your parents are okay for money, so really if they're not going to make visits happen given your circumstances, step back and look at the situation with a cool head.

My guess is they're not talking in the evening about the fact that RR hasn't got a lawyer-income daddy or two parents earning for her, or how you'll manage college, or travel, or any of that stuff. My guess is that they regard it as your job to find a man now who makes money, and not to be picky about what he's like. So -- let them make the first move, and write the checks, and until this happens put away the money for that sweetie pie's future. And encourage Skyping.

There you go, my advice.

Ariela said...

I have to disagree strongly with Amy. RR has no one else in the world besides you and your family. She doesn't ahve any siblings, a father or a paternal family. There is nothing you can give her that is worth more than a relationship with the only other family she has. What if G-d forbid something happened to you?
I had a friend who was a JSMBC with three small children (a son and a year and a half later, twin girls). Unfortunately, she died of metastatic breast cancer when she was 45 years old. After her oldest was born she moved to the moshav where her mother and brother live. Her brother took in her children after she passed away.
You cannot provide RR with a similar situation, but the least you can do is allow her to have some relationship with her only other relatives.
I have traveled to the states with almost 2 year olds several times. I never bought them seats in order to save money. It is hell, but a defined one. It has a beginning and an end and then it is over.

koshergourmetmart said...

I agree w/ariella-some relationship is better than none at all. Plan your visit in Boston well in advance such as sightseeing during the day (going to the children's museum, zoo, aquarium, meeting friends etc.) and leave the evenings/Shabbat for family time with your parents/sibs etc. Plan an itinerary in advance and invite your folks along in advance (we are going to the zoo on tue aug 15, would you like to come with us?). Your parents may surprise you on this visit if you go in with no expectations and if you tell them in advance what you plan to do on this visit. In terms of your parents/family not offering financial assistance-have you shared your financial status with them? They may think you saved up a huge nest egg when you were single w/o RR since your expenses when you were single were not too great (when I was single my only expense was rent, utilities and food-all my other salary went to savings or vacation) You cannot expect them to read your mind. Your parents may have expenses you do not know about and they may not have the whereithall to travel to see you in Israel as well as for you to come to the US.

Amy Charles said...

Ariela, I agree with you, but unfortunately family cannot be made by one side's trying.

Think about it -- if you had a daughter halfway around the world, a single mother, would you or would you not be making like crazy with the skype, the phone calls, collecting the miles, etc.? And if your daughter brought your granddaughter to visit, how would you treat them? If you went to visit, would you spend most of your time heading off to visit friends, or would you be soaking up your granddaughter and letting your daughter introduce you to her life?

I see this much more often than is comfortable to talk about: single mothers making a great effort, at real cost, to connect, and comfortable family that isn't, in the end, all that into it. The comfortable family notices mainly that the single mom isn't there and isn't behaving nicely, which is to say like a well-off woman with leisure to travel and bring the child around often.

The family really does not extend itself and recognize the sacrifices the single mom is making to keep as much connection as exists going; it's outside their experience, they just...don't want to make themselves that uncomfortable, in the end. Push themselves to see what life is for someone who doesn't live just like they do, even if that someone is a daughter.

I'm a single mom; if I had to rely on my family, I'd be in real trouble. I have a strong network of local friends and an old, strong family of college friends dispersed across US, plus many other friends made along the way. One thing I'd suggest Doc do is not overlook more distantly-related family -- there's sometimes a stronger tie with cousins and aunts than with parents and siblings.

The main thing that caught my ear in Doc's post is the fact that she's looking at spending thousands to do this. That's a serious matter when there's no second income, no child support, and -- as far as I know -- no ability to rely on family if the chips are down financially. In that case the golden rule is "take care of yourself first". If she's got a tidy sum put away, if she's comfortable otherwise, then yes, all right, think about spending the money on plane tickets. Otherwise? Well, I think it's asking for a painful and perhaps consequential disappointment someday when she's in need and they don't come through. It's an unhappily common story in single-mother-land.

I'd say take care of yourself and RR first, Doc. That's your primary responsibility. Skype still works and they can likely travel more easily than you can.

koshergourmetmart said...

After reading your posts about your mom travelling at the last minute to Israel to take care of you and RR and the fact she is bonding with RR, your fears of a bad trip may be ubfounded.