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Why Moms Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Traveling

Since my divorce, I’ve found that I travel much better than I did when married. As a young, married mother, I often pushed off notions of venturing far from home. At the time, I ascribed it to missing my children. In hindsight, I suspect it had something to do with security and control. In my mind, I could control the circumstances within the four walls of my house. I kept everything neat, orderly, and predictable. It felt safe. 
 
Until it didn’t anymore. That life—as much as I loved it then—kept me coddled in a protective cocoon. Admittedly, I allowed that to happen. Travel and adventure were for the single and childless. Surely at some point those kinds of people would find themselves wanting more out of life, settle down, and pony up a mortgage with a white picket fence like the rest of us. 
 
I’ve learned in my 36 years to never say never. Because never inevitably seems to happen. Out of the chaotic deconstruction of my life, my home, my dreams, and myself, I sifted through the ashes and found such precious remnants with which I am rebuilding not just my life—but the very fabric of my being. 
 
Travel has been the driving force in helping me to do so. There’s something wildly liberating about venturing off to a place unknown, unfettered by worries at home and untethered to any particular construct. I am much less obsessive about planning and pictures now and more centered on living my travels moment to moment. I’d rather choose to spend my time chatting with locals at a cafe on the pier than jamming my itinerary with endless sightseeing and tourist traps. My favorite moments this past year have been the ones unplanned, the ones that seemed to find me because my heart was open. My anxiety has lessened in tandem with my sense of control, and most days — in travel and everyday life — I feel more like a fluid and malleable vessel rather than a willful and domineering fixture.
 
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Watching and interacting with people in other walks of life has, ironically, somehow allowed me to connect more deeply with my own self. I’m not saying that married women can’t find these connections, only that those of us who sought meaning in the marital conceptions that society constructed for us and found them bereft would benefit from the eye-opening liberation that travel can offer.
 
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I thought when I married that I had to choose my worlds. Single and carefree, or married and domestic. Now I realize that it doesn’t have to be a choice. No matter where life takes our journeys, we always have the choice to play it safe or live an extraordinary life. I wish my ex-husband and I had realized that sooner. We used to daydream about traveling through Italy or moving abroad for a year. Over time mortgages, bills, and expectations eclipsed those dreams and snuffed out any sense of wonder we had. 
 
 

In the immortal words of Dickens, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” This past year and a half has been a perfect dichotomy of great pain and great pleasure. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

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