Let’s be clear. I love my children. I would do anything for them. In fact, that is why I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s a lot of sacrifice, but with the right balance, my children and I both win. I miss them when I travel without them, and that state of missing them is what helps me be a better mom.
When I started to have children, I soon became M’s mom or A’s mom and so on. My friends would usually turn out to be the mothers of my children’s friends. I soon found my identity turning into a pure caretaker role. Playdates were how I rolled. As I dedicated myself to my children, I was losing a little bit of myself.
There just wasn’t time to dedicate to myself. I was happy to get a shower. And when I did try to make time for myself, I felt guilty. Guilty for feeling like a free woman when I went to get my nails done or went out to dinner with a friend. Real adult conversation. Peace and quiet. Relaxation. No one really made me feel guilty. I did it to myself.
Fast forward many years where I found my Disney people. I remember my first solo trip. I went to Walt Disney World to meet some friends. I was super nervous. What if something happened to me? What if the kids got sick? Could my husband handle getting the kids to school by himself? (By the way yes, he could, he’s their dad!) What if this? What if that? It’s like having kids turned me into a neurotic worrier, not to mention the fact that I dislike flying.
Let’s just say I survived, had a great time, got a little homesick, missed my kids and husband, but I was glad I did it. Fast forward to today. I’ve done a whole lot more solo trips. For work, for runcations, and just for pure play. Just check out my Instagram account. I even just had a quick trip to go home shopping by myself in Virginia. But I came home in time to watch my daughter’s preschool performance, because I knew it would be important to her. It’s what works for us.
I like to joke to my husband that I’m inspiring women everywhere. But you know what? Recently when a couple of friends said to me, “I’m going on a trip, because of you. If you can go as a mother of 5, then so can I,” it made me feel really good. Like high-five, fist bump good.
I’m not saving the world here. But I’m saying it’s okay to travel without your children and not feel guilty about it. And we travel with our children all the time, too! If you’re the type who says, “Oh no, I could never do that. I could never leave my children..and gasp, go to Disney without them!” Well don’t do it. It won’t make you happy. Or try a staycation nearby as a trial run.
Admittedly, I have a good support system. If I need her, my mom will fly in to take care of the kids. My husband doesn’t need her to, but she enjoys it. If she’s not available, my husband will take care of them. Sometimes he’ll work from home part of the time while the kids are at school, but he gets them ready for school, makes their lunches, brushes their hair, takes them to activities, puts them to bed. All 5 of them. On his own. Because he’s their father.
Now one thing I try hard not to do is criticize when I come home. I noticed the sugary cereals, types of crackers, Lunchables, etc, that I don’t like to buy in the pantry when I came home, but whatever. He does what he has to do to make it work, and I need to shut my mouth and be grateful.
I’ll say it. It’s nice to only have to worry about feeding, dressing, and bathing myself when I’m gone. I’m Tania, not someone’s mom for a moment. The girl who likes to run, laugh, dance whenever possible, eat a lot of dessert, make jokes, be crazy, wear funky costumes, and make ridiculous faces in pictures.
Being with girlfriends is good for the soul. Then I always come home to my babies, knowing myself better, and as a better me. And that always makes me a better mom.