Travelling the world, 2 boys on my back
Guest post by Jake Laurie
“Hey, put it down! It belongs to the boy!”
It was the middle of the night and I’d had enough of the antics of the Indian customs officers. An exhausted 2 year old was strapped to my back and I was laden with bags. I’d just been on a plane for 10 hours and I was trying to negotiate security at Mumbai airport. It was ridiculous - multiple checks, searches and questions, all done with hopeless inefficiency and little regard for the massive queue’s of travellers. And we were only in transit.
Five months ago my wife gave birth to our second baby boy. I was fortunate enough to have 5 weeks leave from work to stay home with my family. It was during this time that, despite the minimal sleep and total exhaustion, or maybe because of it, my wife and I came up with possibly our most hair brained idea. We decided to rent out our house, take leave from my job and move the family to Ireland for a year - a place where we didn’t know a soul. My wife would go back to work, I would become the primary carer for our 2 year old and the baby, and we would travel extensively through Europe on multiple short trips.
It all sounded great, apart from the effort of getting there. Long haul flights with babies is hard work. Especially when you have to transit through an Indian airport. The customs officer in our story had snatched my son’s teddy bear and proceeded to wave it around and make jokes with his colleagues. My little exhausted boy was about to melt down. I’d had enough. Clearly the officer understood the tone in my voice, and quickly gave up the bear.
We had 3 hours to wait for our connecting flight, and it was 1am local time. The baby was sound asleep strapped to my wife. I lay our toddler down on the floor, covered him with his blanket and let him sleep. The airport was busy, and seemed to have the whole world milling around in it. I felt fiercely protective, and the magnitude of what we were doing and my responsibility for the safety of my family fully dawned upon me. In that moment of confronting the customs officer, I realised I’d take on anyone to protect my boys.
We were taking our boys away from their beloved grandparents, cousins, aunties and uncles. Our support network of friends we had left behind. We were taking them into the unknown, and it felt selfish. As I guarded my son, asleep on a busy airport floor, I realised it was a pretty big thing for us to do. My wife and I had to make it work.
We survived Mumbai airport, made it safely to London, and then onto Ireland. I’m relishing my new role as the stay at home Dad, although must admit, there is some trepidation about fitting in and finding friends. It’s pretty hard to do when you’re knee deep in nappies. Evenings at the pub - Ireland’s premier way of socialising - only happen rarely. It’s early days, but I’m happy. I feel free, not tied to the house like I’d feared. Walking the streets with my boys, doing the shopping, hitting the library, the playground... It seems I’m a bit of a novelty. I’ve not yet come across other men in my situation.
There is still some guilt for my wife and I about taking our boys from their extended family, but the family time we are having is so precious. New experiences together. A simpler life of less distractions. A super-charged bonding experience. I’m excited about the possibilities and adventures for the year ahead.
I feel like the luckiest Dad around.
Jake is an educator and founder of Digital Education Solutions, assisting schools with technology solutions to enhance student learning, school efficiency and teacher effectiveness.