Standing on a beach alone in Tofino, post surf euphoria setting in, I understood that I had to travel to the end of the world alone in order to hear my heart. I had to leave the noise of everyone who gets a piece of me on a daily basis to really know myself again.
I’m a 42 year old mother to two young kids, and although I love them beyond anything words can convey, I’ve never quite become comfortable with the whole domestic bliss thing.
I think I have a serious case of wanderlust, which is unfortunate considering my current living situation. Big house, two cars, golden retriever in the suburbs. So what is a woman of a certain age to do when she realizes that the life she is living maybe isn’t the one she had dreamed for herself? What to do when all she dreams of is travel and surf and simplicity? How does she balance the love for her kids and the love for the ocean and for freedom?
The answer for me has been to travel. My kids are happy in the life they have in the suburbs, but I am stifled by the day to day bureaucracy of life, and so I book as many trips away as possible to keep finding myself. I know some women would shudder at the thought of leaving their kids for more than a day. I understand that some mothers judge me for my choices. That somehow I am less of a mother for taking the time to find myself again and again. But these trips, this time alone and away from the day to day business of running a family are what keep me sane. Motherhood is a hard business. So is being married. Everyday I give a little piece of myself away to my husband, my children, even the dog. It wears me down so at the end of the day I have nothing left for myself.
This past winter I went on a surfing retreat with the Salty Souls to El Salvador, hoping to discover something new about myself, satisfy my wanderlust, and escape the winter. I had no expectations. No preconceptions but I was determined to let go and have fun. There were many gatherings where we spoke of dreams. Of making your heart’s desire a reality. To live your life out loud and pursue your dreams and discover who you are. Go for it! Scream it from the rooftops at the very top of your lungs and live free!!!! Don’t settle! It was empowering for sure, but it got me to thinking. It’s all wonderful and important to give this message to young girls just starting their grown up lives, but where does that leave me? What happens to all the women who listened to what society expected of them, that the house and the cars and the kids would fulfill you? To be content with the status quo. Find your meaning in school meetings and nice shoes. What happens when you have that moment of truth with yourself that the life you are leading isn’t the life that you had truly wanted?
That trip to El Salvador was a turning point in my life. I realized that I couldn’t ignore my passion any more, but I couldn’t ignore my responsibilities and my life at home either. I made the decision then to live the way I always wanted to but within the confines of what my own reality is. A life lived out loud and in far away places by the sea. Sometimes with the kids, teaching them about the beauty of nature, warm waters and surfing. Sometimes alone, where I can again find myself over and over again. Having kids does not mean the end of your life. It isn’t the end of self discovery or even freedom. It’s all about timing. What if all the mothers out there took time for themselves to travel and learn about themselves and be free? What if all the tired, stressed women living the life they are “supposed to” just up and took off for a week long journey of self discovery? It doesn’t take long to find your heart again. When you travel, you realize that your heart doesn’t belong to your husband, or even your children, but it belongs to you and only you. Discover you have a case of wanderlust? Travel, even if it’s just somewhere close to home you have never been before. Spend time learning what it is that makes you breathe life.
So for myself, I will travel. I will surf and I will continue to grow as a person. No matter how far I go, I will always be pulled back home, like a rubber band, to my children. And this is what I can show them when I return to them. I can show them that having a happy, wild, free spirited mother is the best thing in the world. I can show them that they can follow their dreams, and that it is always possible to accomplish what your soul cries out for, and that they should listen to what the little voice inside their heads and hearts is telling them. And I can show them that in order to find yourself, sometimes you need to stand alone on a beach at the end of the world over and over again.