Today is my last day of maternity leave. For the last eight weeks I have been privileged to have the time to get to know my newborn son, Jonah. Motherhood has been a little more difficult than I had first imagined. Don’t get me wrong, it is so rewarding, but I think all pregnant women of guilty of daydreaming about cute, smiling babies and not thinking of the sometimes harsh reality. I remember there was a day during the first week he was home when he was being extremely fussy and would not stop crying. Being a first time mama, I had no idea what he wanted. I tried rocking, I tried nursing, I tried shushing. Nothing helped. So I sat in his nursery, gently rocking in the plush gray and white nursing chair, with tears, fueled by hormones and exhaustion, streaming down my face while my sweet baby boy screamed. Looking back, I find this to be a beautiful moment of motherhood: one of a young mother struggling to figure it all out.

It’s gotten easier since then. I am now rewarded with smiles and cooing. I am amazed at how fast Jonah is growing and changing each day. Every mother who has given me advice warned me that time goes by so quickly. I didn’t believe them until now.

But tomorrow it’s back to reality. I’m nervous at the thought of balancing work, baby, housework, etc. I know millions of women have done it before me, but I find it to be overwhelming. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find a routine that works for us.

I mean, who would want to leave this face?

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During my time off, Jonah and I met up with one of my girlfriends who had just returned from a trip overseas. I eagerly listened to her stories as she showed me the pictures she had taken along the way. I have always wanted to do more traveling, but the last few years have been dedicated to finishing my Associates Degree for Veterinary Technology and starting a life with my husband. Not to mention travel requires more money than we have to spare these days.

I then decided if I couldn’t travel to wonderful far away places, I would have to make do and explore the country around me. Last Friday, Jonah and I tagged along with my mom and sister to spend the day in Lititz. Lititz is a beautiful small town in the rolling valleys of Lancaster County. It’s main street is lined with all sorts of cute little shops, restaurants, and cafes. It is also the home of the delicious Wilber Bud Chocolate Factory  (which unfortunately is closing and moving to a different location). In the past, if you came at the right time of day, the heavenly aroma of chocolate swirled in the air. My husband lived in the area while we were dating, so I have not had an excuse to visit in quite some time.

Our first stop was Lititz Spring Park. This peaceful park’s main feature is the spring fed stream that cuts through the center of the property. Tall trees shade the area so that even during the eighty degree weather, it was comfortable to walk around. It would be the perfect place bring a book and unwind from a long day. Many families come to feed the ducks the congregate there every spring to raise their broods. The ducklings are so adorable that they would put a smile on anyone’s face. There is also a small playground where the kids can swing and climb of the jungle gyms.

It seemed to be the hangout for all the stay at home moms who were there with their kids. Most were sipping coffee while chatting with the other moms. Many were pregnant as well. I was slightly jealous. How I wish I could be one of them. Here in Lancaster, it is a more conservative culture, and many women choose to stay at home with their children rather than work out of the home. That’s how I grew up and thought someday I would be following in my mom’s footsteps. Unfortunately, it is more a privilege to be able to stay at home than a reality (in my case that is). Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to work with animals and not be dependent my husband…but I really don’t want to miss my kids growing up.

After lazily walking through the park, we hit up the shops along the main street. There is a lot of variety from clothing boutiques to candy stores. One can find at least one shop to interest them. The only downfall is that most of the shops are small and do not accommodate strollers. So we did a lot of window-shopping that afternoon.

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When our stomachs began to rumble we eagerly agreed to stop at the Tomato Pie Cafe. Many of my friends have raved about the food served here and I was eager to try it out. We noted we were not the only people to have this idea from the long line that greeted us at the door. Despite the line, there was only about a twenty minute wait until we were seated in the lovely patio. Potted tomato plants were positioned around the patio only to help accentuate the tomato theme.

Service was a bit slow, but we had just hit the lunchtime crowd. Once we were able to order, I opted to try the strawberry lemonade that the server promised was freshly made each day. I wasn’t brave enough to try the tomato pie but I did enjoy the salmon and artichoke panini with a side of greens. Overall, it was a pleasant dining experience, and I would love to try it again for breakfast.

The meal concluded our time in Lititz, as Jonah was due for a nap. Hopefully, we will find more places to explore that are near our house. Jonah is portable these days, but I do get embarrassed when he starts misbehaving in public. I hate to be that woman with the crying baby. What is the best advice you have been given about traveling with infants?

For more information on Lititz Spring Park: click here