2008 was a year of transformation for me!! From being a Commissioned Indian Naval Officer for 7 years, I had decided to take the plunge of being a Full-time- mom! I was in the JAG (legal) branch of Navy and so overnight I had shifted my entire focus from Courts Martial to clinging and playful 2 toddlers of 2 months and 2 years of age.
How did it go for me? Well not as expected! Or shall I say I should have rather expected it! My entire world was now focused on the toddlers and I was struggling to find time for myself. At times, it was rewarding but exhausting most of the time.
I felt chained.
I wanted a break.
What kind of a mom was I? Did I want a break from my own kids? It horrified me to think that I was horrified to be chained at home with my own children!
How could I feel like this? Is a mother allowed to feel this way? I felt like a cut-meat in a cold-storage! I felt wicked to put my young ones in a play-school just so that I could get some free time on hand. Truth be told, there is no free time for a stay-at-home mom, there is always housework or repair work or pay-the-bills work. I was either doing baby talk with my children or talking about babies with other mothers.
I badly needed a break!
Thankfully travel was always a part of our life but so were the children. It’s very enchanting to see your children take their first tiny steps, babble their first words, build castles in the sand, roll over grass or make snow angels!
“Mamma, look what I made”
“Mamma, the earthworms don’t taste good”
traveling with toddlers can be endearing to exhausting.
And that is when I realized I needed to break out of the cycle and travel…ALONE!
ALONE, without my children, without my husband, without anybody I knew. Because for once, I didn’t want to take care of anyone and didn’t want to be taken care of by anyone.
“How can you leave your children?” Asked a friend!
“What about your in-laws?” Asked a cousin!
“What’s wrong with us?” Asked my husband!
There was nothing wrong with them or the questions everyone asked! Rather it made me question my own sanity? Was I wrong in wanting to be myself?
I have friends who work and when I say ‘friends who work’ I mean they get paid for their work unlike for the ‘housework’ done by ‘Stay at home moms’. It is perfectly alright for everyone when working women go out of the station on work leaving their kids behind! Few have confided that it is a ‘stress-buster’ to go on such work-trips! I wondered why is it ok for a working parent to travel for work but laden with guilt when the same trip is for pleasure!? And more so if you are a stay-at-home mom, then the question is if you are so comfortable sitting at home all the time supposedly “doing nothing”, what is it that you seek the break from?
Breaking the shackles – both mental and physical
So the question then was, am I wrong in wanting to travel alone leaving my kids behind or was I wrong because others thought that it was not the right thing for ‘me’ to do. It was at this moment that it dawned on me that I can not and will not run my life because someone else thinks it’s not right for me to do so! I should seek opinions to take the right decision, but I will not be governed by them.
Cutting the Umbilical Cord
And so in 2012 leaving behind my 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter in the safe custody of my husband and my ever supportive mother-in-law I left for my first trek as a mother.
Mt Shitidhar is a snow-clad peak perched at an altitude of 5250mts in Pir Panjal range, in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, India. I don’t know what was more liberating, the thrill of being at 17,220 feet or the feeling of being at peace with myself in my sojourn in the hills. But I knew one thing for sure, this wasn’t going to be a one-off thing.
When I came back home after a week, my 4-year-old was too shy to come close to me. For a moment I could feel my heart sink but my chatty 6 years old made up with all her stories. It took some time for the younger one to cozy up with me again and it was a lovely feeling having them back in my arms.
I felt calmer and more patient ..well at least for the first few days till drawing on walls drove me up the wall!!
We as a family are passionate travelers and we have taken our kids to swim with sharks, trek on Himalayas and paramotoring amongst other things but I have managed to strike a balance between a ‘Full-time mom’ and ‘Me time Mom’! I am a freelance writer, which makes me an Almost-full-time mom and I go every year on a high-altitude trek which makes me a ‘Me-time Mom as well! I like the challenges the terrain throws at me and I like the break it gives me from my everyday Mom-life.
I am at peace with my imperfection!
In the eyes of many, I might be a selfish mom, to many, an irresponsible daughter-in-law, not an ideal wife, but then who is? In this judgemental world, no one is perfect and I am at peace with my imperfection!
So dear moms, spread your wings and take the plunge of faith! For every mother needs a break, even our own mothers!!
How about you? Have you wished to travel alone without your kids? Could you fulfill your wish? How was your experience?
I found my mojo in traveling and scaling high mountains, where did you find yours?
Leave your comments below to share your successes for encouraging others and your failures for drawing comfort!