Having children is life changing.
The love you are capable of having for your children is unimaginable. This undying love is what causes many mothers to pour so much of themselves into caring for their family that they forget to do things for themselves.
Recently I had the opportunity to spend time traveling alone to attend a travel writers summit. This made me come to terms with how I had fallen into the mommy trap of giving everything and keeping nothing for myself. A day before departing for the two-day trip, I hesitated wondering if I should go. I couldn’t shake the fear that my family would not be ok without me. Quickly I realized my fears were more about myself being alone and less about my family’s ability to survive. Traveling alone meant I would not have my kids as a conversation shield or distraction so that I don’t have to talk about myself. What would I do?
What was happening to me? I wasn’t new to travel. Before kids I would travel once a month for work. Now I couldn’t remember the last time I travelled by myself. Determined to forge ahead, I decided not to cancel and started packing. I started packing a small carry-on and the realization hit me. I could pack what I wanted. There was no need for a huge bag loaded with snacks, toys, books and blankets to ensure my kids have the best travel experience. I could take a magazine, a water bottle, a book or anything for me, rather than what my family needed.
The seemingly small task of packing a bag put this trip into perspective. I would be alone. Noone would interrupt me if I sat and read a book. If I chose to visit a museum I could go at my pace and learn everything I wanted. I realized traveling alone was nothing to be feared. It was an opportunity. A chance to regroup and reconnect with who you are as a person. Not as a mother or wife, just a person. The temptation lured to take on a different persona.
For two days I could be a jet-setting singleton!
No one knows me, I can be whoever I want. I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. Even though I am away from my children they are still a part of me. But, they are not the only part.
Once I embraced this fact I felt ready to experience solo travel. Although the city is amazing the real thing I looked forward to was uninterrupted sleep (especially since I have a partner who snores) and doing whatever I wanted. No sports schedules, no homework, not even laundry or dishes! One morning I even skipped a session and laid around in bed surfing the internet and watching TV. It was the most glorious hour where I didn’t have to explain myself, answer questions or take care of others.
That one hour showed me just how run down I was feeling. Over the two days, the time I took to sleep, indulge in food and focus on something just for me was exactly what I needed. My energy renewed and my mood was happy. Towards the end of that short trip I felt centered and was actually genuinely looking forward to getting back to my family.
I was the one who had trouble letting go of the demands of raising children, being a wife, working and all the dressings of adult life including friendships, joys and failures. It was me who was scared that if I was gone too long my purpose would be lost.
Upon returning, I realized that my family was fine while I was away. I was pleased to discover the old saying proved true: ‘distance makes the heart grow stronger’. Those two days made my family realize how much I do for them and, more importantly, that sometimes a mom recharging her batteries is what is best for everyone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paige McEachren
Paige spent over 20 years working in corporate communications for world-leading technology, health care and pharmaceutical companies. In 2015, she decided to leave the professional workplace to stay home and help her young kids navigate life with ADHD and Dyslexia. When not taking care of her kids (3 including her husband), she loves to plan family vacations, struggles with the love of baking and wanting to be healthy, challenges herself to try new things and if lucky, finds a bit of quiet time. She shares her tales of a disordered life on her website www.pieceofpie.ca