The W of Living Imperfectly: When Wanderlust Refuses to Wane #atozchallenge

As a general rule, travellers are selfish. They pay little attention either to the comforts or distresses of their fellow travellers ; and the commonest observances of politeness are often sadly neglected by them. In the scramble for tickets, for seats, for state-rooms, or for places at a public table, the courtesies of life seem to be trampled under foot. Even the ladies are sometimes rudely treated and shamefully neglected in the headlong rush for desirable seats in the railway cars.

Making acquaintances in the cars, although correct enough, is a measure of which travellers generally appear to be very shy. There is no reason for this, as acquaintances thus picked up need never be recognized again unless you please. If a stranger speaks to you, always answer him politely, and if his conversation proves disagreeable, you have no alternative but to change your seat – Martine’s Handbook to Etiquette and Guide to True Politeness, Arthur Martine, Dick & Fitzgerald Publishers, 1866.

W Challenge LetterI’ve written posts before about how much I love to travel. The wanderlust I acquired through my parents has refused to wane even through marriage to a perfectly content homebody and parenthood. But the spirit and the soul cannot be denied forever and this is the year I plan to feed both through travel.

From my very first trip overseas at the age of five when I got stuck in a Parisian bathtub that could hold the volume of Sydney Harbour together with its average boat traffic to my honeymoon in Thailand when I found out that drinking milk in a hot country on a public bus was not a good idea and what being married really means, I have loved all of my trips.

Travelling with young children or travelling when a parent of young children is never easy. When the boys were young, the only real travel we did was when work required it. Back in those days the Italian Stallion did most of the work travel, leaving me at home to cope with a demanding career and parenting duties. As the boys grew older we ventured out with them as far afield as New Zealand and Noumea. There was also a trip to America just after no.1 turned two. We have since tackled Europe and America as a family.

Travelling parents tend to be an emotive and polarizing subject. The debate about whether parents should take vacations or travel without their yearn for adventurechildren seems to elicit much debate with strong views on either side. In researching the Web for this post, I was amazed to find the number of blogs that have been written to justify a blogger’s stance on why leaving children behind to travel is right for them. Whatever the case, travel like sleeping arrangements for children is a personal issue for each family and they should do what is right for them.

It is only recently that I have given in to my wanderlust and have starting roaming without my family. I would love to have them come with me, but now the boys are at a stage where they tend to have their own lives and what do you do when your husband prefers to stay close to home? To be fair to the Italian Stallion, I can coax him overseas every so often, but it would never be his first choice of activity just as cooking wouldn’t be mine. It’s a good thing for the Italian Stallion that cooking has to occur every day and that travel is an occasional thing. But I figure after a couple of thousand meals, an overseas family vacation is a fair trade.

There are arguments both ways as to whether being a parent means you should take your kids with you every time you travel. I have done both and will do both this year. People are generally inclined to cut you some slack as a parent if you are going away with your husband for a special occasion, say a wedding anniversary. We did just that not so long ago and it was wonderful and the kids had a good time back home by being coddled by their grandmothers.

But mention going away without kids, without spouse and for pleasure, you tend to get utter disbelief and a whole lot of judgement.

Whether it’s disbelief in daring to travel solo as a mature women or having the temerity to leave your family to fend for themselves whilst you actually do something for yourself, I’m not so sure. But why does this notion push people’s fear buttons so?

Good travellerI don’t really have an answer because none of this scares me. I have more confidence and a higher sense of adventure than I have ever had before so none of this makes any real sense to me. I also have utter confidence in the survival skills of my family, after all isn’t it a mother’s job to raise humans who can think for themselves and be independent?

Two weeks of me being away will do wonders for us all. My boundaries will get the stretching they so clearly are screaming out for, my family will discover a whole new temporary dynamic and the heart in all of us will grow fonder of each other.

If living live perfectly means burying my wanderlust in my middle age then I want no part of it. Instead, it’s time to be energized by adventure. And if that amounts to being selfish, then so be it.

With this post I have pressed that publish button 200 times. Hitting this milestone during the A to Z Challenge can only be described as imperfectly perfect.

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About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

25 thoughts on “The W of Living Imperfectly: When Wanderlust Refuses to Wane #atozchallenge

  1. I don’t intend to come down on either side of the debate as to whether is is acceptable to holiday without the children, except to say that if they are happy to be left behind, and they will be adequately cared for, supervised, entertained etc., I can see no harm in it. I never travelled without them on holiday, although I did spend more than two years in Africa on a bachelor contract, and the eldest was in boarding school in UK after her 11th birthday whilst I was working in Dubai, as no provision for secondary schooling was available.
    However, I should like to endorse fully your statement that a parent’s job is to raise independent human beings. I would go so far as to say that, after a certain age, the rôle of nurturing and protecting must change from active to supportive – teaching the skills to enable them to go their own way in the world, aware of the dangers and pitfalls, and equipped to deal with them.
    Have a great trip, wherever you go.
    Keith at A storey of stories via A-Z

    • Thanks for the endorsement. That switch from active to supportive can be quite traumatic for all involved, but is vitally important. Yes, a fair bit of travel coming up later in the year, including poking around in the Normandy area with the family for a few days.

  2. My own wanderlust was actually one of the big factors in my decision not to have children (there are many). I don’t think it’s selfish for you need time for yourself, even if for you that means traveling for a few weeks. I remember my mom used to go away by herself a few times a year. It made her happy, we were fine with dad. No worries! 🙂

    • Thanks for this, my mum and dad also went away at various times and it really is true about absence making the heart grow fonder. I think it’s important that children spend time without their parents so they develop a sense of their own identity.

  3. Judy, congrats on 200. Traveling with or without kids is not an either/ or. We have done both, as you said, depending on the situation. Business trips where you can easily extend the trip, are an ideal exception, and we have been to Montreal, San Francisco and Phoenix together. Yet, our best vacation ever was when we took the family to Ireland and had “coach trip” around the country. Memories and pictures abound, with several on our family wall. Thanks for the wanderlust post, an appropriate 200th one. Look us up when you venture back home to America. G’Day Mate. BTG

    • Will drop you a line about the America trip shortly. Just focusing on the Europe one with the family at the moment, since we leave soonish on that one. I’m getting a touch excited :). Some of my best memories are from family trips abroad as well. There is something special about removing oneself from the daily grind and just being able to focus on each other and new places.

  4. I love to travel, too, as does the rest of my family. But I go to a lot of conferences, and those trips I take alone. But you’re right; if I was to say I was taking a cruise by myself or zipping off to London on my own, I suspect I’d get a lot of strange reactions from others. But a traveling heart should not be tamed! 🙂

    • Taming a travelling heart is a dangerous undertaking. I wonder at what age of the kids it becomes socially acceptable to leave them to do a bit of solo travel. I put an embargo on my own travel during my eldest’s last year of school when it was all hands on deck. But if otherwise everyone is in good health, is there really a reason why a mother can’t take some away?

  5. Congratulations on Raising Your Curtain 200 times!!! I might have seen only about 30 of your performances but now I have a lifetime pass and an orchestra seat so I look forward to many years of enjoyment :-). Bravo for Well Done

    As for solo travel – go for it, and where are you going? Those who judge are somewhat envious, in my opinion. Just go for it ( and then share it with us).

    • Thank you for activating your life time pass 🙂 So happy to have you on board. We are going on a European trip during the European summer and I’m doing a solo effort to the US later in the year (my 50th birthday present to myself). I offered for any one else in the family to come with me, but there was no interest at that stage and I had to book the flight. Who knows, plans may still change with one or other of them coming with me. Solo travel does not phase me.

      • It all sounds divine (with, of course, a few inevitable snafus ‘cuz they make good stories!). I love to travel once we’re in motion, but I’m such a homebody, it’s the committing and reserving and planning that I need a strong nudge. Right now Hub isn’t nudging and I love spring and summer here because they fly by so quickly. Your 50th is definitely one to mark with memories of a special sort.

  6. Two hundred curtains raised! Your arms must be sore. You NEED a vacation anyway you can get it.
    You know I just came back from a l.o.n.g. flight. There were parents with small children on the plane both ways. During the 13 and 14-hour flight, I hardly heard a peep from them. How did they do that?

    • Parental magic 🙂 I have travelled with small children and as a parent it is rather stressful. But the reality is that even adults can be annoying on long haul flights. There’s always one who has the reading light on near you when all you want to do is sleep. But that’s just the way it is when you travel. The rest I love 🙂

  7. Congrats on hitting 200! That seems light years away for me! I’ve never traveled alone, except to go visit someone I already knew at the other end. I confess, the idea does scare me, even though my mom did it frequently and all over the world and loved it. There are lots of places I’d like to see, though, and my husband isn’t a traveler, so if I want to go, I’m going to have to pluck up some courage and “just do it.”

  8. I love to travel too, and try to do it as often as I can. I’m not sure I can gather up the courage to travel alone though. I agree with your decision– if you’re a happier person, you would be a happier mom and wife 🙂

    • Thanks D, that’s exactly right. I find the experience really energizing and need that energy to get me through the day to day. Is it any real different from a mother who is into marathon running and has to train for most of the weekend in the lead up to a race?

      • Running a marathon might take you away for a while, but traveling takes you away for days, weeks. It is natural for the family to feel a little abandoned.

        But if your travel does not cause immense practical difficulties to anyone in your family, I don’t see a reason why you can’t get away on a regular basis.

        And in some cases, being self-centered is the best way of becoming ‘other-centered’.

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