As I start to consider a life-changing trip with my kid, I’m readying myself for all sorts of feedback from friends and family. After all, I’m not a single twenty year old considering a visit to an ashram in India (although who knows, maybe I’ll end up in one!). I’m a 35 year old single mother sorting through the pros and cons of educating my child along the open road of life. Yikes, even I shiver at the thought.
I subscribe to the whole ‘it takes a village to raise a kid’ mentality. Although my daughter’s father has been absent for five or six years, my parents, my brother and his family, my non-biological ‘brother’ and his fiance (Uncle C and Aunt E, yay!) and my amazing friends have helped support my daughter both emotionally and, in the case of my parents and even a couple of friends, financially (i.e. paying for summer camp, plane tickets to visit for Christmas, helping with my mountain of student loans, etc).
Up to this point, my family and friends have been pretty amazing. They’ve collectively bitten their lips as they watched me leave a cushy scholarship at a small liberal arts college in exchange for a life of debt at an Ivy League school here in New York (for an art history degree, which has proven to be sooo lucrative) and shuttered in abysmal silence as I’ve thrown together art shows, started an embroidery business, and written novels. They’ve dealt with my farfetched ideas (i.e. how about I become a professional kickboxer!) and suffered my political soapboxing (what can I say, I went to an alternative hippie high school). The best thing about my loved ones (notice how I’m starting to butter you up by using sweet monikers) is how they’ve supported how I’ve chosen to parent my daughter.
I’m not a sweet-as-pie sort of mama. In fact, I am prone to tell it how it is, and often expect my daughter to figure out solutions to her own problems. Granted, I’m always standing alongside her, ready to throw in a life preserver, but I expect big things, which won’t, I believe, happen on their own.
I believe that the amazing kid I’ve produced is ready to take on the world. I think, however, that it’ll take some heavy convincing to make my family and friends feel comfortable with the idea. I implore them, however, to realize that comfort isn’t what I’m after. I want to give my daughter an adventure, filled with the tools to make for herself a fabulous life.
This isn’t to say that stability isn’t a top priority. To make a long trip work, I will need to have the means to travel, a viable plan (at least enough of one to come up with multiple contingency plans), health insurance, a solid curriculum (along with the know-how to deliver it to my child), ways for my daughter to connect with her community of friends and family so that she doesn’t feel isolated, and connections to dance programs around the world so that my kid can keep up with her training.
I’d like to think that I live like a dictator on my own tough-as-nails little pillar of strength, but the thing is, it’s not true; in fact, I’ve always depended on my friends and family to support my endeavors- this experience, if it becomes a reality, will be no different.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that although it will be me and the kid going on this adventure, I welcome- no, I NEED- the supportive feedback of my family and friends. I’ll need the solution-oriented practicality of my parents as well as the travel prowess of my worldly friends. I want feedback, and plenty of it.
It matters to me what you think; your experiences will, I imagine, inform how I ultimately choose to travel with my kid, where we go, and how we see the world. Who knows- perhaps some of you would want to see parts of the world with us. The more, the merrier!
Thanks in advance, to all of you.