I did something crazy a few weeks ago: I traveled to Ireland with my parents and my sister. Without my children and husband. This was not an easy decision to make on many levels. I had to coordinate 8 days of childcare and that is no small feat. I also had to convince myself and others that I was doing a good thing for me and for my family. Waves of guilt would wash over me in the weeks leading up to this adventure, but I kept reminding myself that showing my sons that having a mother who can do things to fill her heart and soul all by herself is equally as important as showing them that I am there each morning and each night to love and care for them.
I received criticism in many forms before and during my trip. Whenever someone found out that I was traveling alone, it was not likely that I would get out of the conversation without enduring some awkward comments like, "Wow- you must have a really nice husband!" or, "I can't believe you're going to be away for so long!" Others were kinder and said things like, "What an amazing opportunity for you!" On my flight home, someone asked me if I would do something like this again, seemingly assuming I'd say no, and I answered with an enthusiastic, "YES."
I have learned so much about myself since becoming a mother. One of the most important realizations is that I am SO MUCH BETTER at parenting when I am given the chance to do something that fills my cup and helps me to see beauty in the world from my own point of view. Even now, as I type these words, my eyes are stinging with tears because I didn't realize how much I needed this adventure until I was in the middle of it.
Yes, my husband is amazing for agreeing to support me and help this adventure happen. Yes, I have an amazing village of people supporting my decision to do something for myself without thinking of me as selfish. I am beyond blessed and that is something I do not take for granted. But I wish this was less of a feather-ruffling event. I wish the surprise and judgement some expressed was replaced with admiration and support. I wish more parents felt that they could take 8 days to remember who they are as an independent person.
Visiting Ireland has always been a dream of mine. To be there with my parents and sister was unreal. To experience traveling independently, taking care of myself and getting lost in my own thoughts, was more healing and empowering for me than I ever could have imagined. Coming home feeling more confident in who I was and in my ability to go adventuring made me feel like I had so much more to give as a mother to my sweet boys.
I needed an adventure to help remind myself how to be an independent adult. And when the adventure was over, holding my sweet kiddos in my arms was the sweetest reward.