Back in what seems like a previous life, I used to be the stereotypical Stepford Wife. I was raising my three kids in rich, white suburbia, planning playdates with kids whose superficial moms I secretly could not stand, baking cupcakes for the soccer team, PTO meeting, or whatever fundraiser I was working on that could make me appear socially responsible.
Anyway, long story short I sold or gave away everything I owned, put the kids on a plane to Argentina, divorced, and am now enjoying parenting in Patagonia on my terms. While my lifestyle reflects my values and my personality much more, I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park. I’m raising three teenagers on my own in a very isolated place while working full-time and building a house and a farm.
Some moms are cut out for managing 24-7 mommyhood with grace. I am not one of them. I get tired. I get depleted. I get annoyed. And that’s when I travel. By myself, without the kids, and I’m tired of having to justify it to people, especially self-righteous yet unfulfilled mothers.
Who says to be a good mom you have to spend every minute of every day with your kids? I’ve raised three very independent teenagers who are incredibly competent, capable human beings who lead their own lives and follow their own passions. If I go away for a few days or even a week or so, leaving a good family friend responsible for them, the world will not end. Trust me, they are not sitting home in bed crying, desperately awaiting my return. Instead, they are eating white bread, sleeping in, and not cleaning up after themselves until the day I get back. They are loving life. A break from mom is just as much of a vacation for them.
I’m not saying that we don’t travel together ever. We take family trips and every once in a while I try to plan a trip with just one of my children so we can get some rare one-on-one time. But there are times when I need a vacation from my kids. And I’m willing to do what it takes to make that happen. I used to think that was selfish, but I’ve come to learn that it is the best way for me to be a present, rested, enthusiastic mom the other 99% of the time.
Also, I’m convinced that it’s healthy as can be for my kids to see their mom making time for herself, recognizing and taking care of her needs, fearlessly and unapologetically following her interests whether they happen to be socially acceptable or not. Sometimes all it takes is a quick overnight hike in the mountains on my own for me to come back centered. Sometimes it takes heading into the Amazon to get my head put back on straight by shaman. Sometimes it takes a quick weekend jaunt into Buenos Aires to stay up all night dancing tango with hot Latin men, reminding me that I’m more than “mom”, I’m a passionate woman.
I’m past the point where I feel the need to apologize or justify this. There are a million ways to mother. Taking care of yourself as an adult is ultimately one’s own responsibility, but it’s also an example to set for your kids. And I’ve come to believe that if they should listen to their heart and spirit as opposed to what society tells them, all is well.