BootsnAll Travel Network

Travel vs. Motherhood

I’m doing a different type of travel these last few weeks. I’m traveling to catch up. Catch up to what you may ask; friends. This summer is about enjoying the cool summers of the northern US, fighting off mosquitoes, and having reunions with old friends. I’m staying with my sister and her kids at a lake cabin near Minneapolis and taking this opportunity to reconnect with my old colleagues and friends; after all, I spent 4 ½ years living in Minneapolis back in my 20’s. This journey through time has really made me think about the choices I have made in my past, as well as the choices I have made for my future. It has also made me think about motherhood since most of the friends that I’ve reconnected with are now mothers of multiple kids at various ages – a foreign concept to me.

When I was a little girl, I had an active imagination and generally figured out ways to entertain myself since my brother and sister were older and I was considered an annoyance. I loved playing house. I loved pretending I had kids to take care of, to cook for, to clean up after, and to tell people what to do. Then I graduated on to Barbies where I had a whole imaginary life of families, homes, relationships, and picking the right outfit to wear for the right fictitious occasion. Then I moved on to playing ‘work’. I would play at my dad’s old desk, make a rol-a-dex from scratch and pretend that I had important meetings to attend, people to see, people to fire, things to staple, and reports to create. At that point, I don’t ever think I thought about playing house again.

Erin and LindseyHowever the last few weeks have landed me back in my imaginary world of playing house. I’ve been surrounded by kids and families. I’ve been entertaining kids, cooking for kids, disciplining kids, teaching kids (mostly appropriate things)…and I generally have no idea what I’m doing. I am the youngest in my family, so I never really had any young kids or babies around me. Instead, I was too busy trying to be more grown up so that my sister and brother may be interested in playing with me or at least stop teasing me and beating me up! These last few weeks of being surrounded by kids and families has been fun, yet exhausting. It’s a bit reminiscent of being a middle manager in corporate America, so I’ve had to dust off my managing skills. Motherhood or Management – it’s all the same to me.

These last few weeks I’ve done things that are scarier and more challenging than climbing Kilimanjaro. I found myself driving a minivan full of kids to Wal-Mart to do the grocery shopping. My latest adventure was to take 4 girls to 3 different softball practices in different locations, cheer them on, yell at them to play nice, tell them to stop fighting with each other, and then going for pizza at the local pizza joint. It freaks me out to think that the strangers that look at me think that they are my kids…how can that be when I still feel like I’m 22 and I clearly don’t look like a mother…or do I? God help me. We’ll delve into that in another post when I have a drink within reach.

Photo: Drained lake Delton – all that is left is mud.
Lake Delton - DryI even drove out to meet my best friend from high school, Audra. She lives in Milwaukee so we decided to meet halfway across Wisconsin. She brought her young kids (2 ½ yrs and 14 months) with her for the 2 hour drive, and they watched Dora the Explorer. I on the other hand drove 3 hours and listened to a gruesome book on tape about children soldiers in Sierra Leone in the 90’s. We were worlds apart. Our worlds intermingled in the heart of cheesy American resort towns – Wisconsin Dells. Some of you may have heard of the Dells recently in the news when rains of biblical proportions dumped so much water into Lake Delton that it literally burst its banks. Tens of thousands of gallons of lake water barreled through the woods, taking with it a roadway, several houses, boats, fish and lake bed. It emptied into the nearby Wisconsin River and was gone in hours. Definitely a site to see.

We met at the Copa Cabana Resort and water park so that the kids could be entertained between us trying to catch up on 4 years of not seeing each other. There was no Barry Manilow or Pina Coladas at the Copa Cabana….instead there were pirate ships and kiddy slides. I channeled my motherhood genes that had long ago shriveled up and dried out and played as if I were Captain Hook on the high seas in between talking to Audra about travel, New York, motherhood, her career, and diapers.

As I drove back to the other side of Wisconsin after lunch, I thought about just how challenging and hard motherhood is. I frequently have people tell me how brave I am for doing what I’m doing with my life and travels. But as I watch all of my friends as mothers, I am in awe. That is one challenge that I wouldn’t be able or have the desire to meet. I find it much easier to fly off to strange countries and new cities and try to integrate in foreign places as compared to changing diapers and raising kids. Sure, that makes me a bit unusual, but I’m ok with that. I much prefer being Aunt Sherry than “Mom, (insert name here)’s hitting me!!” Plus – if I were to be a mom, that would necessitate me actually having to find someone to date that I didn’t get annoyed by eventually…and that may just be impossible.

Photo: My 6 nieces – all together for the 4th of July
NiecesThanks to all of my old friends who have come on out to see me – it’s been like a giant summer reunion for me. Sometimes it leaves me a bit baffled, wondering how in the world I have ended up on the small path that I am on and not on the interstate of motherhood and familydome. I guess I just figure that someone has to take the path less traveled.

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9 Responses to “Travel vs. Motherhood”

  1. Nomadic Matt says:

    I like the tag “I dont want to be a mom.” Thats pretty much how I feel….and i dotn want to be a dad either lol….i just like traveling and i cant deal with kids 24/7/365

  2. [...] Corporate America Runaway talks about travel vs. motherhood. (guess which [...]

  3. Sherry says:

    Ah – it’s great to know that there are others like me out there! I kind of forget that people can read the tags on the posts! :)

  4. Janelle says:

    I am glad you are exactly who you are. I love reading your blog and hearing your insights about not only motherhood, but the plethora of other things you ruminate on. I always like the “personal” postings the best. Hope you are well! I’m off for Taiwan in 2 weeks….we are insane, I think.

  5. [...] Corporate America Runaway talks about travel vs. motherhood. (guess which [...]

  6. susan says:

    Reading your recent missives has been like looking inside my own head. My thoughts & feelings are uncannily similar.

    I’ve been here in the mIdwest for about 1.5 months now, thus back around family members; nieces, nephews, treks to softball games and outings on the family boat. All I can say after this much exposure, is while I adore my nieces and nephews and adore children in general….this is NOT my path! I daydream about my next trip, where it will be, working on my doctorate work and focusing on the world vs. my own little corner of the earth. Like many of my friends/peers and family, they have chosen the path of parenthood. Their lives are filled with soccer practice, PTA meetings, day care fiascos, potty training and the like….I’m pretty much polar opposite to those of my own age. And I like it this way, despite the societal pressures (especially in the US) to follow a more ‘traditional’ path of having kids, and settling in one place. As I get older I am more and more nomadic and that “settling down” gene is very, very dormant.

    Reading your posts has been a breath of fresh air. Of course, this is not to in any way criticize those who have chosen the parenthood path…but for those of us who crave a life a bit, shall we say, out of the ordinary, here’s to marching to the beat of your own little drummer! Here’s to all the women out there who choose something a life a bit less ordinary….

  7. Sherry says:

    Female Thirtysomething vagabonds unite!!!! Actually Susan, I have no idea how old you are, but if all of your friends have kids, then I have to guess that you may be in your 30′s. Thanks for your comment – it brought a huge smile to my face as I read it. I so often wonder how I ened up the only one of my friends childless, unmarried, and craving adventure as opposed to craving kids and settling down. I normally hesitate about writing posts like this one, but strangely enough i get the most responses out of them. I’m assuming it’s becuase here are other people like me out there – or everyone just likes to read about the ‘freak show’! If you ever end up wandering around SE Asia and Vietnam specifically – please contact me – we can go out and have a toast to ‘being differen’!

  8. Hi Sherry,

    I completely understand where you are coming from. I too used to play house, and work, grew up went to work, moved around, and then hit my thirties and finally settled down and got married and thought OK a couple of years and we’ll have kids. Then we started traveling together, even got married in Europe, and now we both just continue to travel and put kids off. I really don’t think it will happen for us and that is fine.

    The desire to be a full time mom instead of an aunt just isn’t there. While I love seeing my nieces and nephew it is so nice to go home – to solitude and adult conversation, some wine, good food and just hanging out.

    I would love to just sell our house and take a year off and travel and see where it leads us in life. By watching you and your travels and hearing your fears and concerns it keeps me motivated to keep considering it and to maybe even do it. If we had kids that most likely would not even be an option.

    I also think sometimes that all of those woman before us who fought for our rights didn’t do it so that we could all work full time and be a mother – they did it so that it would be OK for us to travel alone, and to choose to not have children, and to create alternative legacies. Ya know what I mean?

    So keep on traveling and keep on blogging and don’t ever feel alone – there are so many of us out here that are just like you or see you as an inspiration.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Oh wow…that is so me! My husband and I got married 4 years ago here in Australia and we thought we would have kids but we just want to keep travelling. There is so much to see and do that it just would not be possible to see what we want to see if we had kids.

    I always thought I would have a child and sometimes I get very confused about the whole thing, and the next thing I know my hubby and I are planning our next ski trip here and there! My hubby and I are big kids and we just love life and seeing the world together. He told me he now doesn’t want kids as there is too many things he wants to do….which I can relate to also

    We have each other and we dont have any family on either sides that are close to us…it’s just us and our furry golden retriever kids

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