If I could go back in time, what would I tell my 20 year old self ? Travel, travel and travel.
I didn’t travel as a child . My family weren’t travellers , hell we didn’t even go on picnics. The only way I learnt about the world was through Disney movies and World book encyclopedias.
I think it’s cool when young couples take their offspring on adventures around the world. Education right there.
Travel is something I really wished I had experienced before having children. Holidaying with no one to worry about but yourself. Wonder what that’s like?
A few years ago I decided to pretend that I actually didn’t have a family and one lunch hour during work I decided to book a holiday for just myself and my husband. Just a break away without the kids. As I tend to not do things by halves I sort of found myself on the Qantas website and I sort of happened to click onto 2 return air fairs from Brisbane to San Francisco. Yep , that should do it for me, that should whet the appetite for a little getaway. East coast of Australia to West Coast of US of A takes about 14 hours. This is where the fun times start for my husband because he has a massive fear of flying. Even on a 2 hour flight , he is rendered speechless and sweating , so yeah, fun times to be had. ” Think of all the movies we can watch in peace, ” I said trying to make light of his phobia.
He had not long lost his father to cancer and I think he felt like it might do him some good so he agreed.
Oh yes, that’s right we have some kids! Damn , what to do? The 2 eldest stayed at grandmas and the youngest was passed around between a neighbour, friend and other grandparents. I had all details covered from enough money for school bus fares, lunches prepared and every medication known to man kind. Just in case one of them contracted the Ebola virus while we were gone.
I must say that I had absolutely no guilt at leaving them behind. None. Mother of the year award goes to .. ( not me obviously).
I was frothing at the mouth to do this thing It was like I was starved of travel experiences , well I was. Apart from a trip to New Zealand and the South Sea Islands I had never attempted anything like this especially sans children.
Who doesn’t want to go to America? This had always been my dream . I knew it would happen one day and I knew from a young age. An Australian girl that grew up watching endless Disney, Brady Bunch , Happy Days’ episodes and the rest of the American cartoons and of course teen 80’s movies. Molly RingWald , anyone?? I remember Sunday afternoons as a kid watching The Wonderful World of Disney , where at the start it shows the attractions of Disneyland with the Teacup Ride and the Jungle Cruise. I was obsessed with the teacups and the Jungle Cruise.
As a 7 year old I announced to my mum that “One day I was going to go on those Teacups”. In that motherly reassuring way she simply replied “No you won’t dear, it’s too far away “. Ok then.
Fast forward 30 odd years as I touch down in San Francisco on the coldest day I’ve ever experienced with a heavy head cold and a husband that hadn’t said a word for 14 hours with plane fright. I was finally here.
Instant love at first sight with this place . Over the next five days San Fran showed off in every way imaginable. From the jazz bars to the baseball game to the huge redwoods in Muir Woods to Alcatraz and of course that bridge- the great Golden Gate. Breath taken. I’m in love. Like Tony Bennett said, I left my heart in San Francisco.
Over the next 3 weeks we cruised on the wrong side of the road from one end of California to the other. I face booked every second of it and left loving FB messages for my kids to which there were no replies . Yeah, they missed us, big time. My husband would ask , “Do you feel guilty ? Do you miss the kids? “. I didn’t . I really didn’t ( she says with a devious laugh). “They will get their chance one day,” I told him with all the empathy of an Army Drill Sargent. That’s how much I needed this adventure. Care factor zero, zilch and nada. I had worked solidly for years with minimal breaks and now it was my time to shine. I made it up to them by buying ridiculous amounts of shoes, clothes and not much for myself.
The last 2 days saw us at The Happiest Place on Earth. No, not Vegas. Disneyland. Let me get my bucket list out and get ready to tick off those Teacups and Jungle Cruise.
This place really knows it’s shit. I mean really. The attention to detail in every little thing is mind blowing. Every kid needs to go to Disneyland. Except mine , they were at home. “Ok, now I feel guilty,” I said to my husband.
I noticed the Teacups in the distance. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe I did both. I could hear my mums voice telling me “They’re too far away,” in the back of my mind. To my husband’s relief we managed to get a pink teacup – it was always going to be pink. Told you I was obsessed. We spun and spun and I fucking loved every second. So much so, we did it again. Next stop was Jungle Cruise . My husband wasn’t familiar with the ride but I knew it inside and out because I had a book about it as a kid. I was near hysterical at this point as I recognised all the animals in it as I remembered as a kid. I think he even dozed off during the peaceful boat ride.
We stayed at Disneyland until it was time to get the shuttle back to the airport for the long trek home. We arrived home more tired than when we left, the kids were happy for us and we were on a high for months.
Two years after this trip my eldest son did get his chance and went over on a Contiki trip and experienced much more than we did. I’m sure the other boys will eventually do the same.
This was possibly the most spur of the moment, crazy thing I have ever done as a mother . It fed my soul and spirit on so many levels and the memories have stayed with me for years. I felt reckless , careless and free. Even if it was only 3 weeks.