If you’ve been around here for any length of time you know that Christopher and I really do love traveling – specifically road trips, but we have a blast doing whatever! – and that we do have fun taking trips as a family or as a duo whenever possible. (See recaps of our family trip to Gettysburg or our honeymoon for some examples)
So some people might find it odd that I also like to take trips alone.
Near the beginning of our relationship, I had the realization that being with Christopher also meant living in the same place I grew up – for the foreseeable future at the very least. Jess had gone back-and-forth across the country a lot in her young childhood and now that she was settled, we were not making her switch towns or even schools until she was much older, if at all. This was a reality of being with Chris. My twenty-something heart had big dreams of adventure and moving across the country and traveling all over the place and the reality of needing to stay at home hit me hard.
To be honest, it was something that we talked about a lot and I seriously considered as a major factor as we began to move forward in our relationship.
Ultimately I (obviously) decided that this partner and this family were important enough to forego my moving dreams for at least awhile, but it would not be an option to just ignore this important aspect of my life and personality. So we decided together that it would be important to have some traveling money built into our budget so that I wouldn’t start to get stir crazy and feel resentment towards our situation.
And so… I travel alone. I’ve gone to New York City on a whim. I went on a 3-week backpacking trip to Europe while Christopher and I were engaged. I visit friends across the state without concern. And, in the case of this coming year, I’m going on several big adventures without my family: a trip to San Francisco with my best friends NEXT WEEK (!) and an almost two-week train adventure from New Hampshire to Chicago to Texas and back again in March. (Hello, #AdventureYear!)
Often, when the subject of the trips come up, I’m asked about the fact that I’m traveling without Christopher or Jessica. I want to make it clear, we plan family vacation and romantic trips as well – being together is a big priority for us – but for me and my personality, it is very important to be able to venture out on my own whenever we’re able to make it possible. Christopher is an incredibly supportive husband and is always encouraging me to jump on these opportunities as they come – in fact, I almost didn’t go on the Europe trip because I thought it was impractical and he was the one who kept insisting that I’d regret not taking the leap.
In our family I do a lot of the parenting, from a logistical perspective. I’m with Jess when she gets home after school, I help make dinners and check on homework and a myriad of other things, and I truly love it. But I am not just a (step)parent, I am a person. And knowing what’s important to me and where my heart is and just being open and honest about it has made our family that much stronger.
It has been six years since Christopher and I first had the tough conversations about where we’d live and how we’d make that work, and giving me some room to get my wanderlust out has been a big part of that.
So don’t be surprised if you see more from me on this subject in the coming year – and please don’t use it to imply that me doing things by myself means anything negative about my family or my relationship. If anything, it means more wonderful things than you could ever know.
Being a stepmom is a huge part of who I am, but it isn’t the only thing that I am. I’m grateful to have a partner who understands and encourages me to take care of myself as a person, too!