Passport to my Dreams

Passport to my Dreams

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In order to hone my craft, I am starting to participate in a writing challenge offered by Mama Kat, a blogger and social media expert with more followers and experience than I can fathom at this point. One of the writing prompts she offered this week is: what does the word passport mean to you?

Last year, as the Big 4-0 loomed closer, and the loss of a friend my age from cancer sunk in, it seemed time to start attacking my bucket list. Although I have travelled extensively throughout North America, I had never been abroad.

The timing just never seemed right. I had a new job. My dad was fighting lung cancer, and I didn’t want to leave the country. I was going through fertility treatments, and subsequently had three kids as a result.  Then, who could I leave three toddlers with for eight days?

But I finally felt like the time was right. Or as I looked at it, now or never.

As someone that lives for history, food and wine, Italy seemed like a natural choice for my first adventure overseas. After securing a doting grandmother to watch my children and enlisting an army of friends to taxi them to and fro various activities, it was time to make it happen.

I talked about my trip all the time and tried to garner as much information as possible from people that had travelled to Europe recently. While most people were extremely excited for me, interestingly enough, not everyone seemed as supportive of my trip.

“I could never be away from my kids for that long,” one mom told me. “I just wouldn’t enjoy myself.”

“Don’t you feel bad that you’re not taking your kids,” said another friend.

And my personal favorite: “What if something happens to you while you are over there? What will they tell your kids?”

While all these statements initially provoked some guilt and second guessing (and yes, also made me a little angry), it also helped me realize what type of parent I wanted to be — one that showed my kids that they should follow their dreams, be adventurous, find their passions and live life.

When I was over in Italy, I spoke with a beautiful woman who showed us around a winery. During our conversation, I mentioned that I felt badly because I was over in Italy and my kids were back home with their grandmother.

“When I was growing up, I spent entire summers with my grandparents and only talked with my parents a few times,” she told me. “I loved every second of it and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I bet your kids are loving it too!”

A view of the Chianti countryside.

A view of the Chianti countryside.

I thought about what she said later that day. As Americans, we do put enormous pressure on ourselves to constantly be there for everything when it comes to our kids. We feel guilt if we miss a new milestone or a soccer game, and because of this, we often miss out on doing the things that we love.

I think it is great that as parents we give all of ourselves to our kids, but sometimes I wonder about the cost. We forget about focusing on other things that matter, such as our spouses, health, interests or dreams until sometimes it’s too late. I believe it’s important to grow with your children, not sacrifice yourself because of them.

My new Italian friend was right. My children loved spending time with their grandmother and the extra attention they received from my friends. When we returned home, they were happy to see us, but no worse for the wear. And I found a new passion in traveling abroad that I can’t wait to share with them (after they get a little older!)

My passport helped me take the trip of a lifetime. The word passport, to me, means living life.

Mama’s Losin’ It

9 Comments

  1. I think time away is important for all of you. And I love mama Kat. I’ve been following her for a while now.

  2. I’m so glad you went to Italy! I think it’s great for kids to see their parents pursue a dream and also for them to have bonding time with other special people in their lives, like their grandparents. I think kids actually gain confidence after a positive experience away from Mom and Dad. It takes the pressure off them. They don’t need to worry about us ! LOL

  3. As guilty as I feel, Sean and I try to take at least one getaway a year…My Dad travelled a lot for is work domestically and abroad. (Before it was actually the cool thing do and there were no such thing as frequent flyer miles!) My parents had 4 kids, so as you said the timing was never right, and my mom would tell him that she would go “some day”. Well that some day never came as he died suddenly at the age of 44 of a massive heart attack. Therefore you never no what tomorrow brings and sometimes you just have to make the time to be a couple…. I think it awesome that you crossed this off your “bucket list”…

    • So sorry to hear about your Dad, but I agree…you really never know what tomorrow will bring.

  4. I could leave and go to a foreign county without children, my husband, not so much. I tell myself one day – with or without him I’m GOING! I know that sounds selfish but in my heart I know what I have to do. I have 3 things on my bucket list – the same 3 I have had since I was a kid. One I have done, one I hope to do soon and the third is travel to Ireland. Again, with or without him I will get there. He is very conservative and doesn’t spend as much time with our kids as I do, so I get why he doesn’t want to leave them for long periods of time. But like you said, sometimes you just have to do something for yourself! And I also want to teach my kids to not be afraid of an adventure because of what ‘might’ happen.

    • Whole-heartedly agree. Leaving your kids is very hard, but I do think it’s an important lesson (for you and for them!) Hope you make it to Ireland soon (and if you need a traveling partner just let me know!)

  5. It is a win-win-win for all involved–parents, kids and grandparents. I am a big believer in adult only trips. A co-worker often teases me..”do you ever take your kids on vacation with you?” I am fortunate to be able to tag along on some fun work trips with my hubby or just go on a regular vacation. I am so crazy lucky to have 2 sets of retired grandparents close by, willing and able to spend time with my kiddos. Some parents judge me for leaving them and considerate a badge of honor to say “I have never left my kids…” I say, to each their own, I enjoy the time to reconnect with my husband, enjoy time away from my kids for a bit, and love that my kids get to spend quality time with the grandparents. I love to get away and I love to come home to them.

  6. Such wonderful words of wisdom from that gal in Italy! Where was she when I went to Greece and worried about my kids with their grandma so much!?! It’s true, there is too much pressure to be these perfect parents…could some of that actually be damaging to our kids? Now you’ve got me thinking! Thanks for playing along this week! You called me an expert, so now we’re best friends. ;)

    • I am always looking for another BFF. Thanks for dropping by. And yes, perfect parenting is totally screwing our kids up. Oh, wait. Maybe it’s just screwing mine up…..:)

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