Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What do you miss most in life since having kids?

As I got a cavity filled the other day, I asked my dentist about upcoming vacations. He said he and his family were going to Europe: England, France, Amsterdam and Belgium. I told him to visit Bruges if possible, a beautiful medieval city in Belgium. I wanted to ask so many questions—where were they staying, what were they going to do—but I had to quit talking so he could work on my tooth. For once, I wasn't so freaked out by the drill because I was flooded with wanderlust.

I love my children deeply and fiercely. I can't imagine life without them. And yet, I really miss going on trips that do not involve Mickey Mouse and theme parks.

I've always loved travel. I spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, as a college junior, then traveled to Greece on break and around Israel, Egypt and Europe afterward. In my early twenties, I snagged a $150 round-trip flight to Italy when I agreed to act as a courier for a delivery company. My dad feared that I was unknowingly serving a drug cartel, but it all worked out. I road-tripped on the California coast with my friends Lisa and Lyla and did Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Lyla and I toured Spain. I hit Club Med, once in Turks and Caicos with my friend Betsy and once alone to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. After I met Dave, we went on a cruise in Alaska's Glacier Bay, explored Ireland, hiked in Patagonia and honeymooned in Bali.

Then we had Max and we were too afraid to take him anywhere because he'd had seizures at birth and then another one when he was fifteen months old. Once they were stabilized and Sabrina was about two, we ventured to resorts in Jamaica a couple of times. We've since been on several family cruises, the Sandpiper Bay Club Med in Florida and Arizona. I am not complaining; we go on nice vacations, making them a financial priority for our family. I can vividly recall all the trips I took with my family growing up, and I want my children to have those memories. There is so much learning and fun from travel. Not to mention: kids clubs.

But I really miss the far-flung trips. I miss, too, the spontaneity associated with travel. Sometimes, when Dave was away on business, I'd jump on cheap flights to meet him in Cleveland or Milwaukee or wherever just because. I miss the freedom to go where I want and do as I please. The mere act of getting out of the house to head to the mall is an ordeal when you have children.

At the heart of all, I guess I miss having a life free of responsibility. Sure, I had work to do and bills to pay when I was single, but that was cake compared to the realities of overseeing a household and raising three children, one with special needs and one with an attitude.

We have a photo in our living room of Dave from that Alaskan cruise, taken on the top of a glacier. Sometimes, as I'm carrying Ben around the living room, I'll stop and show it to him and I think back to the girl I was and get a little sentimental, breaking out of it only when Ben attempts to grab the picture frame and toss it down.

On my list of cool (and vaguely realistic) family trips I'd like to take: Rent a villa in Tuscany, a houseboat in Amsterdam and an R.V. here and travel the country. Roam around Southern France. Visit Iceland. Rent a treehouse anywhere (er, perhaps not while Ben is learning to toddle). On my list of fantasy trips: China, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Bora Bora, Fiji...and just napping in a hammock anywhere tropical. Really, just napping in a hammock, period.

What's on your travel wish list?

Top image: airbnb


  1. I've never been big on travel. I have a fear of airplanes but even if we go by car there is just something unsettling about being in a new place. It's a very different mindset than most of my generation but I'd rather just stay home.

  2. I totally get this...I love travel and while I wasn't all that well-traveled before kids, we did a lot more than we do now. I would love to really explore Israel and France, I'd love to do an African safari and see Australia. I also want to go to Israel and have a goal to see all 50 states. I think the hardest thing about kids and travel is that any vacation with them isn't so much of a vacation, or at least a relaxing one...particularly when they're little.

  3. Ellen, you could totally move China off the fantasy list and put it on the realistic list! We did a DIY trip to Beijing and Shanghai with our kids and it's super easy to do. The kids would love taking a high speed train between the cities and you could go to Shanghai Disneyland. We hired a driver for a day to take us to the Great Wall, but other than that all the major sites are on the subway line!

  4. Before kids I got to visit Israel and Egypt with a group from church. Loved it. Loved the travel, loved the history. I have gone to China 3 times - once for each adoption. By coincidence, all three trips were to the same cities, same hotels. I would love to take my kids exciting places. As a single mom with a child with moderate-to-severe autism, the thought is overwhelming. I did make sure both my girls went to Europe on a middle school trip. And I let them fly to visit family in other states. Which is a long way to get to why I was so very excited to read about your Autism on the Seas trip!!!!

  5. I miss traveling too. My husband and I would take small trips to the Caribbean or within the states. We never visited Europe or Africa. I still would love to visit Kenya, South Africa, Japan, Belize, England, France and Italy. I worry about healthcare. How are urgent care centers abroad? My daughter doesn't have seizures but we have had to take her to urgent care when away on a local weekend trip for an ear infection. She still doesn't walk independently, so I worry about transporting her in foreign places as well. She will be 11 years old in May. Less health issues, but Mom still worries! and of course I need more income. Anyway, I am glad I stopped by your blog today Ellen. As always, your posts give me good things to think about.

  6. I admittedly miss the travel as well. My husband and I did several road-trips when we were first married, but we got pregnant four months into marriage (our choice), and I sometimes miss that freedom that we had when we could just up and go. We may get that time back someday, but for now, kids, kids, kids.

    Paige Flamm
    The Happy Flammily

  7. I miss quiet. A full minute of quiet would be nice - without worrying that someone has drawn on someone else's face. Oh, and yes, travel. :) Someday we'll wander again.

  8. Due to money constraints we don't travel that often, but if we do we tend to head to the UK to visit my cousins on their estate outside of London, other than that I've been to Austria to visit Vienna, and Israel a few times. Though my favorite places to visit are England, Wales, and Ireland. I'm English, what can I say?

  9. I'm Australian. C'mon down Ellen! We are taking one of our kiddos to The Netherlands, via England and Brussels, this year. I've just booked a day trip to Bruges when we are in Brussels. Appreciate you mentioning that in your post!


Thanks for sharing!