Last Saturday, I was dragging a wagon filled with two blankets, a diaper bag filled with snacks and coloring supplies, three fold-out camping chairs, and my four-year old buried somewhere underneath it all to her older sister’s last soccer game of the season.
There were two other families making the trek across the field with me and we were making small talk as we tried to remember which color jersey gets which side of the field. One mom asked the dad next to me where his wife was. He replied almost hesitantly that she was on vacation. I laughed out loud- then realized immediately that’s not the reaction I meant to have.
My laughter was more out of a desire to tell this dad that he and his wife are doing it right and a desperate desire to ask him where she was and what she was doing. Instead, I shut my mouth out of embarrassment at my reaction.
The mom who asked him scoffed and declared that’s where she’d like to be too. He just smiled and continued to herd his toddler along toward our side of the field on his own.
My Need for Solo-Travel
Unlike a lot of moms my age, my husband and I got married very young and had kids right away. We brought the storm of child-rearing into our twenties rather than using those years to prepare for it. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it took a lot of personal sacrifice.
It wasn’t until this last year that I realized that I needed to embrace this part of me I’d been shunning almost all of my mom-life called “introvert.” I’m a social person, I love meeting new people and getting out there and making good friends, but I need time to recharge. Alone time. Me time.
I’d taken trips on my own pretty much all throughout our marriage, but mostly to see other family, so it was never a trip for personal recharging as much as it was enjoying being with loved ones.
My dear friend from college had made a post a while back on instagram documenting a trip she had made (not the first time) where she had checked into a hotel somewhere nearby on her own and spent the entire time doing whatever she wanted for herself. Anything. She went on a hike to a pretty spot and took photos. She read books. She ate good food. She made time for herself in a bigger way than I think most of us allow time to do. Personal recharge.
Suddenly I just knew that I needed a trip like that in my life. It was healing just thinking about it, and as luck would have it, a trip like that opened up and fell in my lap just a few short months later.
What I learned on my trip
Shortly after my friend’s post, I was able to take a half-a-week trip on my own to Portland, OR and Canon Beach. It was absolutely magical in every way. I stayed in Airbnbs that I probably never would have taken my kids to for fear they would break something or be too loud. I didn’t spend a ton of money on food because I could just eat things that I liked instead of worrying about getting enough to feed everyone. I made last minute decisions on where to visit because it was easy, it was just me. (Read more about my trip here.)
I absolutely love taking trips with my family. There are special bonds you make when you visit places other than home together. But, I realized that you can’t learn everything about yourself when constantly in the presence of other people (even family).
I realized that I needed to remember who I was as a person so I could better fill the roles that my life requires. I remembered that underneath “wife,” and “mom,” and “teacher,” and “daughter,” and “sister,” and “friend,” was me.
Don’t Pack Guilt on Your Trip
Does that sound like something you need? Did your skin prickle at the thought of having a day, two days, three days, maybe even a week of just being on your own with no one who needs you?
Maybe traveling alone isn’t your cup of tea and the stress of worrying about all of that is too much, but what type of mom-cation would be good for you? A local hotel and a weekend to shop? Maybe you aren’t an introvert and you need a friend to come with? Maybe you just need a cabin in the snow, a fireplace, and a journal or stack of good books?
What is the one thing that you could do that you know would put you back on your feet again?
What is stopping you?
If it’s your job, or timing, or money, or any of those things that we usually use to talk ourselves out of such a “selfish” endeavor, just push those aside and be realistic about what you would need to do to make it happen if it were truly something you felt like you needed.
If it were something medical, we wouldn’t hesitate to find a way to make it work. And this isn’t mom-specific either. If your significant other has similar desires, work towards a goal where both of you make time for your own personal recharge-trip.
The best part was that after my friend’s trip inspired mine, my posts about my trip inspired another mom-friend of mine to do the same thing. I hope her trip inspired someone else. Ladies, Moms, let’s make this a thing. Get out there, embrace something new on your own, and remember who you are.