Fourteen years ago, I had a successful career as a journalist and a busy personal life that included frequent trips abroad. I ran with the bulls in Pamplona, went diving with dolphins in Honduras, scaled the Acropolis in Athens, and surfed the waves off the coast of Spain.
When I became pregnant, I traded my power suits and pumps for khakis and loafers. I exchanged my night courses for night feedings. I packed away my suitcases and purchased a diaper bag.
Sometimes, late at night, after baths, prayers and two readings of Lily and the Purple Plastic Purse, I found myself longing for my old life. I did not regret giving up my career to stay home with my children, but I did miss the stimulation I got from traveling to foreign countries. Trips to the park and Gymboree were not enough for me. I wanted adult stimulation.
Finally, my husband decided I deserved a vacation from motherhood. He sent my mother and me to Paris, where we spent seven glorious days touring museums, monuments and chateaux. I came home refreshed, rejuvenated, and anxious to spend time with my family. Since then, I have made it an annual event to take a trip without my children.
My husband is supportive and encouraging of these trips. He is able to see the benefit of giving me time to nurture my soul. He also enjoys the one-on-one time with the kids. I have encountered people who think my decision to leave my children at home is selfish and neglectful. Some have even suggested that I must not like being a mother. This is preposterous.
Someone once told me that motherhood is all about compromise. I don’t think that is true. You don’t have to compromise yourself or give up the things you enjoy, like traveling solo, just to be a good mother. Motherhood is all about balance. It’s finding that perfect pose that allows you to walk the tightrope that is your life. Sometimes you will be graceful, sometimes you won’t.
The trick is just to get from one side to the other.