“See the world before you settle down.” ~Common Wisdom
I recently attended the stateside wedding reception of an incredible, adventurous couple. Their slideshow could have been torn straight from the pages of National Geographic. Pre-engagement, they had quit their respective jobs to wander the globe together for an entire year. Somewhere between the slideshow, speeches, and snapshots, I managed to sneak a one-on-one moment with the recent bride. “Travel as much as you can, while you can,” she advised. I nodded. Yes. For a moment, more appreciative of my single status, I calculated how many international flights I could afford in the next year. One. Or two. Or three…
Everyone knows that once you’re married, your traveling days are over, right? Maybe. If you don’t have kids right away, you might be able to squeeze in some international adventures with your new spouse. But everyone knows that once you’re a parent, your traveling days are definitely over…or not?
The beaming bride and her happy husband were planning to settle down and start a family. And settle down they will, to an extent. But they won’t stop traveling. They love traveling. They had quit their jobs to travel! They have a passion for exploring the unknown, and passion has a way of keeping excuses at bay. Plus, since the bride’s family is in the U.S., and the groom’s is on the other side of the globe, the frequent flyer balance of this young family will continue to grow.
The thought of settling down, of putting down roots, of having a place to call home, is so appealing. But the thought of being securely tied down to one place terrifies me. I have always rejected the view that a husband is a ball-and-chain. However, for a long time, I accepted that children were immovable baggage. Happily, my own family has changed my views. My brother and his wife have been a huge inspiration to me; they don’t subscribe to the idea that life as you know it is supposed to end with children.
After marriage, some friends fall off the face of the earth. After the first child is born, even more friends join their ranks. But my brother, sister-in-law, and their three year-old son, have not fallen off the face of the earth. They have explored the face of the earth, as a family. Yes, travel is expensive, but if you plan and save, many adventures are possible. For example, when my nephew was one, they went to Mozambique for a month. When he was two, they went to India for a month. And when he was three, they went to Thailand for the summer. Sixteen-hour flights, a lack of modern conveniences, and the threat of malaria were no match for their determination to visit and serve people in need. As a bonus, they now have a three-year old son who speaks some Thai!
I realize that marriage and children mean changes in priorities. I also realize that not every three-year-old (or thirty-three year old, for that matter) has the disposition to withstand international travel. But in the U.S., convenience seems to be far too great a priority. In many parts of the world, daycare is not an option, nor is quitting work. Life with children, by necessity, continues in much the same way as life before children. Not that such a lifestyle is ideal. But it is a reality check for women who think that they “can’t” do something because they have kids.
“We have more ability than will power, and it is often an excuse to ourselves that we imagine that things are impossible.” ~François de la Rochefoucauld
I’m not saying that you must travel, even after you marry and even after you have multiple car seats and strollers. I’m simply saying that you can. With any decision in life, when you hear yourself say, “I can’t,” challenge your own thinking. It is easy to focus on the obstacles that prevent us from taking action, rather than thinking about how we can work around those obstacles.
“Your whys have to be bigger than your why nots. Otherwise you give up in life.” ~Anonymous Man At The Coffee Shop
My point is that if you dream of doing something, or if you know that something is the right thing to do, there is a way. Do not let excuses, like kids, or finances, or inconvenience, get in the way. Even if something seems crazy by common “wisdom,” don’t automatically write off the idea. Don’t succumb to an excuse, deal with the real reality. And if you get a chance to share your dream with kids, you are blessed indeed!