I remember telling someone at the dentist’s office that I was going on an international trip for a week and her response was, “Is your mom going to be bringing Andy casseroles?” Really? I looked at her square in the face and replied, “Well since it is not 1953, probably not.” -And someone in my own family expressed disbelief that Andy was going to be “babysitting” his kids for a whole week. Of course I couldn’t hold my tongue reminding her that if they are your own children it’s called parenting not babysitting.
The truth is that as far as women’s lib has come, some things remain stuck in another time, namely the absolute different ways we view parenting for moms vs. dads. My husband really isn’t to blame. He encourages me to travel. He’s hands on. He has no problem taking all three boys to our favorite pizza restaurant every night I am gone and getting them off to school fed and healthy. (If their hair is combed and their teeth are brushed is another story…) It’s simply our society, our culture. In fact the very title of this article probably had you flaring up your own judgment of what a selfish mom I must be. Did you know that four months out of the year my husband travels for work?
That I juggle all things boy x 3 by myself? I am grateful I have a flexible job-I don’t travel much for work, I get my boys off the bus everyday, I go on their field trips… But, I can assure you that then when I am alone for a week with my boys no one has every offered to make me a casserole or even given me a sympathetic glance. It is simply expected. I literally thank God for my travels and for a husband that supports my passion. Even when I think of my children, I am proud to be a traveling mom. Here’s why:
Travel gives me something to look forward to: Do you remember when school was busy and crazy you counted down the days to Christmas break? This is they way travel is for me. In the midst of my daily, busy life I love having a sunny date on the calendar to look forward to.
When I travel I am only ME: Like everyone out there, I wear many hats. I am a business owner, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister … the list goes on. When I travel I am simply Brita. Just me. No obligation to anyone but myself. It is that weeklong sense of freedom that 51 weeks a year I gladly give up. But in that week, I simply do focus on just me. Not many other hobbies afford that wonderful opportunity.
I grow with each trip: I drink up the empty spaces, the quiet places in travel. The bus rides staring out the window, the long walks down the beach, the moments I close my eyes and let my mind wander. In these moments I able to reground myself in a way that in my everyday life I simply cannot seem to do. I always come back from every trip a little wiser, I am certain of it.
I stretch myself: In my daily life I am controlled, frankly a little anxiety ridden. I worry about my kids running out into the parking lot, of getting into a car accident… I wake in the night wrangling with ideas for my business. When I travel I somehow push through my anxieties. I live a little on the edge. I try exotic foods, I test my body doing things I never though imaginable like climbing active volcanoes and zip over the jungle canopies. I am my alter ego.
I model for my children an independent woman: Just as my boys see their dad take golf and hunting trips, I think it is important that they see me travel with my sister or with my friends. That they see their dad support that and wish me well on my travels. I hope that someday they encourage their own wives to live their passions.
I help expand my children’s world view: My kids love to look at maps, to hear about other places across the globe. They point out Spanish when they hear it in the streets. They throw out countries they would like to visit. They brag to their teachers and coaches that their mommy brought them back a soccer jersey or foreign currency. These moments make me swell up with pride.
I strengthen relationships new and old: I love traveling with my little sister and any of my dear friends. I love sharing unparalleled experiences, chatting into the dark night. I adore meeting fellow travelers and even more so spending time with locals. Each interaction affects and shapes who I am.
I come back renewed, happier: By the time I am on the flight home, I am longing for my boys and nestling them into my arms. I am missing their sweet smells and I am ready to dive back into the madness. Even in my work, I come back excited and engergized. There is a reason other countries encourage more vacation time, I am telling you.
So judge if you will, but I love traveling. It sustains me and gets me through the long, cold Wisconsin winters. I was over the moon when I realized becoming a mother didn’t mean giving up being a traveler. I am proudly, both.