One of my favourite times of the day is just before Freya’s bedtime. Full up, bathed and snug in her pajamas, she is in that chilled out phase just before sleep that allows me to cuddle her for as long as I want without her clambering to get off my lap after 30 seconds for her latest adventure.
I sit with her on the comfy chair in her cosy darkened bedroom with my chin resting on her soft, lavender smelling hair, my arms wrapped tightly around her and daydream about all the things we will one day do together.
When she was a baby, it was simple things such as trips to the park but as she has grown so to have my dreams. Now I think about all the places that I would like her to see, ideally with me in tow.
I was a late bloomer when it comes to travel; already an adult at 18 the first time I went abroad. My first experience was a stomach churning day trip to Calais by hovercraft which didn’t really inspire the travel bug.
It was another two years before I flew for the first time and, never one to do things by halves, I went to New Zealand – a whole day in the air (by the time we got to Singapore I never wanted to see another plane as long as I lived).
Thankfully, I fell in love with New Zealand almost the minute we left the airport so it was well worth the long journey. I took out a loan, which took about 10 years to pay back, so I could buy the ticket and got special dispensation from university so I could go on the two-week trip with my brother, who thought he might like to live there. In all honestly, when he first mentioned it I wasn’t entirely sure where New Zealand was.
It’s hard to know what I liked best. The people were genuine and lovely and the architecture was so different to what I was used to. I loved that Auckland was so bustling but friendly. That the Bay of Islands to the north was beautiful and peaceful and to the south there was the geothermal wonder of Rotorua where I saw my first hot spring. It could have been all of those things or it might simply have been that it was my proper first experience of “abroad”.
Whatever it was, I caught a wanderlust that I have been lucky enough to indulge over the years. After New Zealand, there was a quiet period while I finished university and settled into my first journalism job. There was barely enough money to pay rent so travel was at the bottom of a long list but it was always there in the back of my mind. And when opportunity knocked I threw open the door so hard it almost came of its hinges.
Sitting quietly with Freya on the cusp of sleep, listening as her breathing slows, I think of the places that still make me tingle… with what? Excitement? Can you still be excited about events that have already happened? Or maybe I am excited that one day she might wake early, open the shutters of her central Rome hotel room to see dawn break and listen to the church bells ring out across the city? Perhaps she will eat the most delicious pea soup starter at the Hotel Cipriani as the sun sets in a myriad of pinks and purples over the lagoon in Venice? Will she be honored by being invited into the smokey darkness of a Maasai boma in back of beyond Tanzania? Or maybe she will watch as local women deftly cook food for her on an open fire in rural Andhra Pradesh, India. Perhaps she will wile away hours taking pictures in Santorini or stand on the dark deck of a cruise ship dressed up to the nines as the volcano on Stromboli spews lava and rocks. All with me stood next to her, of course.
Aside from the fact that I no longer fly (for environmental reasons), I couldn’t see any other problem with putting my plans into action until I mentioned them to my husband and he said, matter of factly: “She won’t want to go with you.”
Er, what? Why wouldn’t she want to go with me?
“By the time she is 18 you will be 55,” he said.
“When you were 18 could you imagine 55? Would you have taken your mum with you?”
Hmm, maybe he has a point. At 18, I couldn’t imagine 30.
I readjust my thoughts, just in case I don’t turn out to be the super cool mum she wants to take everywhere with her, and think maybe I will write her a 10-strong bucket list of experiences I would like her to have. Then I think maybe they are only exciting to me as they are my experiences. That perhaps I should just try and encourage a love of (sustainable) travel and let her have her own experiences.
Strangely, I am not sad at the thought that she will go off without me.
Terrified maybe, but not sad.
A photo from my travels is featured by Amanda at Something to Ponder About on her weekly quiz at the moment. Why not pop over and have a guess at where it was taken.