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Sometimes Wives and Mothers Want to Spend Time Alone, or Even Solo Travel! Here’s an Odd Example.

Would you go on a dream trip alone?

Would you go on a dream trip alone?

Imagine you win a free trip to a Caribbean island… but the only catch is, there is only ONE plane ticket provided, and you’re married with two kids.

How would you feel? What would you do?

Miraculously, this just happened to me, and what it revealed was striking.

Solitude helps thinking blossom.

Solitude helps thinking blossom.

Flash back to a few months ago when I was speaking on a panel at the Boston Globe Travel Show. On a whim, I stopped by a tourism booth with two 4-foot-tall inflatable flamingos out front.

“What’s going on here?” I asked, as one does when one encounters inflatable flamingos with a horde of humans flocking around.

Home of the Boston Globe Travel Show.

My city: Home of the Boston Globe Travel Show.

“It’s a contest to win a free trip to Bonaire!” sang the woman behind the kiosk. (I discreetly Googled “Bonaire” and learned it was an island next to Aruba in the Caribbean.)

“Oh, of course — Bonaire!” I replied. “How do I enter the competition?”

“Pose with our flamingo friends, post the photo on social media, and we’ll draw a winner,” the gentlewoman responded. “Done,” I declared, zipping over to embrace the bobbing birds.

The winning photo for the Bonaire contest. I owe it all to the flamingos for being my... WING-men!

The winning photo for the Bonaire contest. Thanks to the flamingos for being my… WING-men!

We took the photo. I won the contest! Then… I suddenly had ONE plane ticket to Bonaire.

Now, I love my husband and kids so very, very much, but I must confess: the vision of a week of quiet, clear, solo thoughts and actions was delicious as ice cream.

Feeling guilty and freakish, I ran the reaction by a group of local mothers.

“GO ALONE AND LOVE IT,” they all belted in unison.

“All I wanted for Mother’s Day was a day to be left the heck alone,” one confessed, “but how do you tell that to people you love so much? It’s hard for me to articulate this push and pull of desires.”

Imagine eating breakfast slowly, solo, just for a few days...

Imagine eating breakfast slowly, solo, just for a few days…

Fast forward to sitting on the couch with my husband.

“Let’s see how much plane tickets cost so that I could come to Bonaire, too, and maybe also the kids,” my spouse cooed, trying to soothe what he thought was my upset at the prospect of traveling alone. “You’d be bored just hanging around that island for a week, right?”

“Mmmgg,” I muttered vaguely.

Would you be bored for a week alone in a beautiful hotel?

Would you be bored for a week alone in a beautiful hotel?

We searched flights, and they were stratospherically expensive.

“Oh nooooo-hooo,” I semi-convincingly sighed, thoughts drifting towards long, solo walks… writing, uninterrupted, all afternoon… leisurely browsing 12 lunch places before picking one… not “hearing” the thoughts of anyone but —

“I don’t want you to come,” I blurted. “I want a break from ‘hearing’ everyone’s thoughts.”

“What?” my husband replied.

Sometimes one can see more solo.

Sometimes one can see more solo.

I went on to explain, best I could, how being a wife and mother too often turns into a marathon of guessing and attending to everyone’s needs. Feminist marriage though we have, this fact is still true.

I grab the silence of alone time when I can — I walk the 3 miles home from work every day so I get that moving meditation plus an hour home before everyone else returns — but having a whole week to myself would be revitalization incarnate.

Visualize: Sun streaming in, solo dining for a brief change...

Visualize: Sun streaming in, solo dining for a brief change…

Bless him, my guy immediately got it.

“That makes perfect sense,” he said. “Why did you wait so long to tell me what you really wanted for this trip?”

Truth. I gave thanks and embraces.

Time alone helps our sun rise again!

Time alone helps our sun rise again!

Until I became a wife and mother, myself, I always assumed married ladies and moms wanted to be with their families non-stop, and if they didn’t, they were — actually, it didn’t even occur to me that they might not want to be with their families non-stop. Silly me.

So let us sing it from the swings: if you’re a wife and/or mother, it’s all right to want some alone time! Thank you, spouses and kids for supporting us as we recharge our superpowers. We love you!

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Moushumi

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

You are one lucky wife! I am happy that your hubby and family allowed you for rejuvenating solo trip. You are an inspiration, thanks for sharing your ideas through this blog.

Lillie

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

Ben

Friday 22nd of December 2017

While I understand your take on things, and I'm glad you and your husband see eye-to-eye on this and there's no conflict, as a husband of a frequently travelling wife, it can hurt sometimes if overdone. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts or those of your readers on the following situation (I realize it's quite different to the scenario in the above piece which is a one-off thing):

My wife went to university very far away from her family for 4 years, and then did a fifth year away from them afterwards. During this time, she only got to go back and see them bi-annually. I found a job in a new city a few hours from her home-town, and it seemed to be a win/win situation. I even kept saying "and it's close to your family so you'll be able to see them more!". I expected her to go sometimes, but after a month of settling into our new life she announced one day that she'd be going for the better part of a week the day after tomorrow. I didn't really like that she just made the plans first and then announced them, rather than discussing it with me to see if it was a good time for both of us. After all, we just moved to a new city where neither of us knew a soul, so I felt it would have been nice if she at least talked to me about it first, as in "how would you feel if I made my first trip home this coming Monday?", but I chalked it off to her excitement to see them overwhelming her and making her temporarily insensitive.

It was a very difficult week for me, because, as stated, we just got here and I felt extremely isolated, but I kept it to myself to not spoil her family visit, and welcomed her back with rose petals and a card. But 2 weeks later, she did it again, the exact same way, making the plans first and then casually mentioning that she would be leaving on such and such day.

Since then, she has gone every 2 weeks for 5 or 6 days at a stretch without fail. She's currently gone on her 5th trip, and we've only been here 4 months. I did tell her after her second trip that, although I don't begrudge her visiting her parents and grandparents, that I think the amount of trips is excessive, and also that I don't like the disregarding way in which she went about it. After that, she did start bringing it to my attention before trips, but the frequency hasn't changed, and the conversation seems to me to be purely ceremonial, since I've told her how hard it is for me here alone and she still goes.

Since we're otherwise happy together, I don't want to start some problem over this after I've already told her how I feel and risk being alone here ALL the time, and she's assured me that the trips will decrease in frequency after this Christmas trip, but all in all this hasn't exactly been good for our marriage, and I feel disregarded by the whole thing.

Lillie

Sunday 24th of December 2017

Hi Ben,

Thank you for sharing your situation. It does sound like a difficult one. Speaking for myself, the thing that really helped our communication around time together and apart was getting a third party to guide our discussions and coach us on how to communicate so we could hear each other clearly. More about this in #2 of this article: https://www.aroundtheworldl.com/2017/06/26/working-mom-tips/ . This may not fit for your situation, but the bottom line is that this can be solved with communication. Wishing you so much luck!

Izy Berry

Sunday 20th of August 2017

Woohoo! congratulations on your well-deserved win and solo trip!!

Lillie

Sunday 20th of August 2017

Thanks so much!

Jessica

Wednesday 26th of July 2017

Congratulations on winning the trip, Lillie! I'm not a mother, but totally understand the feeling of needing and wanting alone time. As much as I love my husband, I relish my solo adventures too. Have a wonderful time!

Lillie

Wednesday 26th of July 2017

Thank you Jessica! I just returned from the trip and it was GREAT. Working on the article about it now, but hard to choose from so many beautiful Bonaire beach photos!

Charlie

Tuesday 18th of July 2017

Congrats on winning a solo trip! And have the courage to tell your family that you were going to do it. Family travel is great, couple travel is great, but taking a trip alone can almost be euphoric! I hope you get plenty of rest and relaxation, as well as writing done. Can't wait to read about your trip!

Lillie

Tuesday 18th of July 2017

Thanks, Charlie!

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