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Therapy Through Traveling

Therapy Through Traveling | Twin Cities Moms Blog

I was surprised to find traveling as a big part of my {new} mom-identity when my husband died.  We had valued vacations and exploring places together.  Our bucket list of cities to visit was long.  Life happened fast after our first son was born.  A move to the suburbs, our second pregnancy, and a terminal cancer diagnosis all within a year quickly changed the course of our life together. 

Fast forward six months after his death and I packed a suitcase for Nashville. I was very nervous about flying and leaving my sons (one and three years old at the time) that I hadn’t noticed our boarding pass said 3A, 3B. My friend booked us first class tickets because he knew there would be a lot of emotional triggers traveling without my late husband. 

By day two into that long weekend getaway, I felt more free and relaxed then I had in years. I sent a selfie to my mom. She texted back immediately, “I haven’t seen you look this relaxed in a very, very long time. Enjoy yourself.”

She was right. Two children, a cancer diagnosis, and planning a funeral took a toll on being {ahem}, “relaxed”.

I thought back to invitations to travel abroad with friends before cancer, a time when our lives were stable. My husband always told me to go, he was more than willing to stay home with our son.  I decided to wait until we could both go. 

The truth was, I was afraid to travel without my husband. Maybe even a little afraid to have fun without him. I especially didn’t feel I could be gone from them for seven days. 

The next invitation my friends sent me to travel abroad, I was a young widow. This time, I booked my flight within an hour of their text. Within a few days, we were planning our adventure to the Netherlands and Budapest. For once in my life, I knew this was the right decision but feared what others would say. 

Therapy Through Traveling | Twin Cities Moms Blog

This adventure was almost two years after life decided to take me on the worst roller coaster ride ever. Being a stay at home, widowed, mother of two young children left me with no time to process the hole cancer put into our lives. I had to travel over an ocean and 4,000 miles away to really face my grief.

Traveling is a freeing experience. A time when I can reflect the most on life as a mom, as a woman, as a widow. It helps me heal. Time for clarity to think about my parenting and notice the parts of the day I miss most with my sons. I miss everything about them and think about them all day when I am gone.

It no longer intimidates me to book my own flight, sit by strangers, or stay in a hotel by myself.  These life lessons I learned while away translate back to my confidence as a solo parent. While I learn to be more independent and brave, it teaches them by example. I am a mom they can be proud of as they get older. 

My next trip is coming soon. Off to England, I go to see my friends exchange vows. I have been feeling very guilty again for leaving my sons. But, I am making a vow to let the guilt go. It is a once in a lifetime event, and my sons will be in good hands on their vacation with grandparents. I am looking forward to more healing, returning to my sons a better parent.

Doing something for yourself is very hard as a mother. Big, ugly GUILT is everywhere.  Some moms may travel with their young children, some may not.  Other moms might want a night at home while the kids are at Grandma’s. Whatever you choose, take the time for yourself as a woman to discover who you are at this point in life.   

One day, my sons will travel along. Until then, I’ll use this time to heal and be more present with them when I am home. Have you been contemplating traveling? What city is on your bucket list? 

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