At this hour, the house is filled with all kinds of noise and scents. The to-do list for the day is long. Your baby is crying as you prepare breakfast for a party of four. Voices are constant, blurring inside your head.
“Mom, I need to pee!” “Hon, can you fix me a cup of coffee?”
“Mom, I spilled water!”
“Hon, I can’t find my tie.”
“Mom, I’m hungry!”
The house finally quiets down and you find yourself staring at someone else’s vacation photos and reading a travel blog. Today is one of those days when you are exhausted and life seems monotonous. You find yourself whispering, “I wish I could go out of the house and travel.”
But then you realize you have to cook lunch. You need to pick the kids up after school. You have to work.
Maybe you’ll go on a weekend. But what if the baby cries? Who will feed her? Will be she fed well? Will she be all right without me? What will my husband say?
You remember a mother from your online mommy community saying, “Oh no! I will never leave my kids at home until they are three.” You read up on separation anxiety and find studies claiming that “separation between a mother and a child below 4 for more than three days have adverse, long-term effects on the child.”
You feel disheartened. You start thinking about what ifs. “What if my children hold it against me? What if they miss me too much? I know I will. Maybe I can bring the kids. But what if they throw tantrums on the bus? Or have an accident along the way? It’s too hard to travel with a kid. I don’t think I can do this. Plane tickets and bus rides are expensive, anyway.”
“Maybe some other time then. When they’re older.”
I hear you. I hear you loud and clear. Because I was once in your shoes – nervous, afraid of possibilities, forever hounded by what ifs. Because we’re mothers now.
Because our lives are intertwined with our children’s. Your desire to be jetted off elsewhere is strong, but the urge to nurture and keep your children safe in your arms, at home, is stronger.
I wish I could tell you it’s easy, but it’s not. As a mother, the decision to travel is often a tug of war between gut feeling and rationale thought.
The first time I brought my child to the market on my own, I had fears like yours. It may only be a few hours away from home, but that home is a place where comfort and certainties thrived. And the first time I spent a night away from my three-year old for work? My stomach churned. There was a great deal of unease. It was unnerving; almost like locking the door and remembering your house keys are inside.
But here’s the thing about house keys: You could worry all day about leaving them and being locked from the outside for good, or you could find a way to see what’s on the outside; see the other side of what ifs.
What if we open our hearts to adventure? What if we allow ourselves to be free even for an hour, a day, a week? What if we find other wonderful doors to unlock along the way?
The answer is we can. We will.
Because we are mothers and we are women who give birth to dreams and possibilities.
We are women from where life-changing stories come: the stories of beautiful children who become beautiful tomorrows. The stories of children who learn from mothers that sometimes it’s okay to be afraid, because there is really no true courage without fear. The stories of children who learn that the best adventures start from home.
The stories of children who learn that home is still the best place on earth, but that journeys into farther lands are necessary to finding that – cliché as it is – home is truly where your heart is.
You are the woman who weaves fairy tales at night and teaches children that even in a world of despair, heroes and magic exists. That that hero is within us, that magic exists now: in kindred strangers on the road, in finding a place you never thought existed, in discovering possibilities beyond borders, in dreaming and making them happen, in learning that we can be more than what the world tells us to be.
Magic exists because you, fellow mother, plant their seeds in your children – in your tomorrows – and allow them to grow.
So today, if you find yourself wanting to go, do yourself a favor. Allow yourself. Breathe and let your feet find themselves free. Step out of your backyard. Take your kids to the park and smell the crisp scent of greens. Let them discover how beautiful the world is – not on TV, not on YouTube, not in fairy tales. Let them see it here, now, among strangers, in strange roads.
Hold their hand and make your way out into the wild world as you would teach your child: one baby step at a time until they are finally able to let go – let go of fear, let go of uncertainty, let go of disbelief in oneself – remembering that the journey to bigger steps always start with small ones.
Because you are a mother. You are “the bow from which the arrow is cast.” Because you are a woman who gives rise to new possibilities, to adventures that shape your lives and theirs. You are the hero. You are the magic in stories. And you are ready to face the world.