Their Bad Mother

I was recently asked in an interview about my favorite family
vacation. My impulse was to answer, what family vacation? but then I
remembered that late this summer the husband and I took the kids to Blue Mountain for four days. Which, yes, I suppose was a vacation, but as Blue Mountain is only a two hour drive from our home it didn’t really feel vacation-y, you know?

Anyway. I do have a dream family vacation.

It’s nothing fancy. Sure, I’d love to take my kids on safari in
Kenya, or go snorkeling in Cozumel, but my ultimate, dreamed-of,
really-really-would-so-love-to-do-it family vacation? A road trip.
Well, one very specific road trip.

When I was seven years old, my parents loaded my sister and I into a
camper and we drove from Vancouver, BC, to Disneyland. We wove our way
down the Pacific coast, periodically veering inland to visit points of
interest that my parents had plotted on a tattered map. The Grand
Coulee Dam, the Petrified Forest, Hearst Castle (San Simeon), countless
KOA Kampgrounds with amusement features like paddle boats and
waterslides… we stopped frequently and we stopped long, taking, if I
recall correctly, a few weeks to wind our way down and back, with an
extra few days set aside, of course, for our primary destination, our
Emerald City… Disneyland.

My family did a lot of road trips while I was growing up, and we did
a lot of camping, but this particular trip stands out among the other
memories, in part, I think, because it was such a long trip, and we saw
so much, but also because it was just so perfectly familial in
a way that was almost indulgent. We stopped at every playground and
amusement park we saw, we bought silly souvenirs, we had dessert with
every meal… it was a vacation of play, an adventure of
play, and my parents threw themselves into it as wholeheartedly as my
sister and I did. It’s one of my very fondest memories of them, of us,
of my childhood. And I would love, LOVE, to do it again.

My dream family vacation, then, would be to retrace the route of
that road trip with my own family. Stop at all the same stops, see all
the same things (to the extent that that’s still possible), be silly in
the same way. Maybe not camping – I doubt that all those KOA’s are
still there, although who knows – or maybe in an RV a little bigger
than our cramped 70’s camper, but still: the same road trip, more or
less, over the same route, with the same destination: Disneyland. A
nostalgic journey for me; a memory-creating journey for my children.
(We would totally detour to Palm Springs, though. I fell madly in love with Palm Springs when California Tourism invited me there this past spring. LOVE. And there is no better place for silly souvenirs, so. That’ll be a must-stop.)

It’s not going to happen anytime soon – we don’t live in Vancouver
anymore, and we don’t have an RV, and taking three week’s vacation
isn’t easy – but I’ve got my fingers crossed that someday, while my
children are still very young, we’ll do this.

I can dream, can’t I?

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for their “Do What You Love” Sweepstakes, Cheerios® is sponsoring my post today about what my ultimate family vacation would be. Read mine and Enter the Sweepstakes for a chance to actually win your own fantasy family trip or one of a bunch of other great prizes.

Cross-posted at The Bad Moms Club.

The other week, at a maternal health clinic in Barea, a province of Lesotho, I listened as someone asked an HIV-positive mother why she’d wanted to have a baby, even though she knew that she was HIV-positive.

Because a baby is hope, she said. A baby is life. I want life.

I fought tears. I don’t know what it feels like to be HIV-positive, but I understood what she meant. There are all sorts of reasons for wanting children – selfish reasons and unselfish reasons and every kind of reason in between – but I think that for many of us, children represent a broadened horizon, a more expansive future. They represent hope, and life. They represent looking forward and moving forward and reaching forward and continuing onward and onward, beyond the limits of our own lives. Not everyone wants to expand the horizon of their existence by having children – there’s nothing wrong with not wanting that – but many do, and among that many there have long been many who have been told they can’t, or shouldn’t. That Basotho woman, not too long ago, would have been among the many being told they shouldn’t.

Dr. Robert Edward, who just won the Nobel prize in medicine, made his career by helping those who had long been told they couldn’t.

Helping more women have babies is a controversial enterprise. There are some who recoil at the idea of more births being facilitated when the world population is climbing. There are some who think that it’s a waste of medical resources to help women have children when such help falls into the category of fulfilling desires and wishes rather than meeting serious medical need. There are others – hello, Catholic Church – who believe that assisting reproduction via means such as IVF (Dr. Edward’s hand in the development of which was recognized by the Nobel committee) is not all that much better than preventing reproduction, and that any such interference in the processes of reproduction should be condemned. There are still more, and many of the same, who insist that the stem-cell research and pre-implantion diagnosis techniques that emerged out of IVF research represent humanity’s effort to play God and to create and destroy life at will. But for anyone who, simply, really wanted a baby but wasn’t sure they could succeed; anyone who tried really, really hard to have a baby, and struggled with the trying; anyone who ever really felt, deep in their heart and soul and bones, that having a baby would make all the difference – and that, moreover, the effort to promote and encourage life does make all the difference – Dr. Edward’s work has been a godsend.

And I, for one, am standing to congratulate him.

A very good argument for supporting the BornHIVFree campaign:

An even better argument:

Please pass it on.

Tomorrow, I leave for Africa, to see this project in action. While I’m gone, please consider signing the petition to support it.

And then tell all your friends. And tell them to tell all their friends. If you all sign up – as Carla Bruni Sarkozy says in the video above – we can make this happen.

Just leave your name. That’s all. Just your name. It could make all the difference.