Last weekend, my family accompanied me to a family-friendly business retreat. First of all, let me just say that the idea of combining family and business into one neat and tidy weekend is awesome.
But it should be noted that it is rather stressful preparing for such a trip. When you have to remember to bring materials for your presentation as well as diapers for your kid, that's stress from all sides.
Even though it was just a 48-hour trip and less than 90 minutes from home, I looked at everything I was loading in my car and I couldn't help but think it looked like we were moving someplace. Like, permanently. Pack 'n' Play, books and toys, a teddy bear, clothes for work and play, three pairs of shoes for me, three pairs of shoes for the kiddo (tennis shoes, water shoes, sandals), computer bag with computer and tablet and chargers, a sippy cup, diaper bag, a fabric grocery bag with snack items and a cooler. (Meanwhile, all of hubby's stuff fit in a tiny backpack.)
I can be a nervous traveler — constantly worried about whether I have forgotten something. So, one thing I tell myself to help reduce that anxiety is that most of the time, I can buy the missing item(s) at my destination. The exceptions are IDs/credit cards, any prescription medications and eyeglasses/contacts. The only medication we had to be absolutely sure we didn't forget was my son's EpiPen. (Which, yes, I remembered.)
And while there would be food at our destination, I was nervous about it. I wasn't worried about my own food — because while I hold myself to the same restrictions as my son, I eat more things. His restrictions are amplified by his pickiness.
Typically, before we go out to eat, I try to vet a restaurant and review the menu to ensure there is indeed something on the menu my son can (and will probably) eat. I wasn't able to properly do that in advance of the weekend. Plus, the resort was off the beaten path, so it's not like we could easily wander off-property and dine at Chipotle if the resort's food wasn't cuttin' it.
So, I threw some leftover rice and chicken into a cooler just to be safe.
As I stared at that cooler and the jumbo bag of snacks, I remember thinking: Are other parents doing this? Is this a toddler thing or an allergy thing? I'm pretty sure it's an allergy thing.
Then, we sat at dinner with the group Friday night, and I was able to spend time with the resort's kids' menu. Chicken and rice were on the menu. We'd be fine. He wouldn't starve. Everything was going to be OK.
Even with this positive experience, however, I wonder if I'll be able to leave the cooler home next time. To be honest, I doubt it. It's bad enough that his options are so limited when we go out (and he doesn't help things by being so picky), but I can't bear the thought of him not being able to eat at all. It's why we bring food to family gatherings too — I can't count on there being food available that he'll be able to eat at our own family members' homes. Never mind hotels, restaurants, airports and airplanes. So, for the foreseeable future, I'll keep cooking (and teaching my son how to as well) and hauling coolers and snack bags on road trips.