Torn Between My Children And The Trip Of A Lifetime
The email sat in my inbox for two minutes as I tried to will myself to open it. I looked around my home office, waiting for a man to jump out from behind the couch and tell me I was on a prank show. Which would have been perfectly fitting considering I was wearing a ripped t-shirt with milk stains on it and a pair of yoga pants that had never actually seen the inside of a yoga studio.
The subject line of the email read, “We’re going to China!”
There it was. My dream trip to China was actually happening.
I was looking at the email notifying me that I had been picked out of a huge group of applicants to be part of an incredible journey. An opportunity to travel with four other writers to China with Mandarin Journeys. The chance to experience a personalized cultural-immersion tour just for us.
Of course, my friends, family and husband all said, “Yes, you have to go!” but I still wrestled with the guilt.
Yet, my feeling of exhilaration and absolute joy was quickly replaced with anxiety.
“Can I really do this?” I asked myself.
Questions flooded through my brain. Who would watch the children for those eight days since my husband worked? How would my kids get to school each day? What sort of lists would I need to leave? Do I even have an updated passport? Do I need shots?
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And the biggest question – is it fair to go when I’m a stay-at-home mom and my job is to take care of the kids?
Of course, my friends, family and husband all said, “Yes, you have to go!” but I still wrestled with the guilt. The guilt of doing something completely selfish. Going on a trip that was an experience just for me. Not for my children, husband or anyone else in my life. Just me.
And just when I started to doubt myself. To doubt my decision to go for it, my six-year-old daughter sat next to me and asked to see pictures of the places I would see in Shanghai.
She was amazed by it all. But then she turned to me and whispered, “I want to go, too.”
With each picture, her eyes got large and she was enthralled. She smiled when I told her what we would be doing at each spot. Cooking classes, tea ceremonies, watching the famous acrobats. She was amazed by it all.
But then she turned to me and whispered, “I want to go, too.”
And my heart broke.
I wrapped my arms around her, and just as I was about to lie and say, “Me too, sweetie,” she looked up and said, “But I can’t wait to watch movies with Daddy and eat lots of ice cream.”
And I laughed hysterically.
And I finally breathed. I breathed because I realized that this will be a special time for her too. This will be filled with those moments only Daddy can provide – the late nights watching Star Wars, or the hours spent at the park playing soccer. He’s the one that does those things and they love that.
So I’m feeling ready.
Still terrified, still nervous, but no longer guilty. And that’s what will truly make this a trip of a lifetime.