Travelling with a toddler: is it just the two of you?
“So is it just the two of you?”
Shops, restaurants, taxis, planes… I can’t tell you how many times we were greeted with this phrase.
It didn’t bother me, but it got me thinking how to other people – strangers – the sight of the two of us travelling around a foreign country with weird accents may have looked weird.
They’d search my face, expecting me to respond with “no, my husband is just paying for the taxi, he’ll be here in a second.” It became a fun game to watch their intrigued gaze linger a little longer than usual when I’d enthusiastically reply, “yes, it’s just us! We’ll sit right there at the window, thanks.”
Not too long ago, such a question would’ve crushed me. I would’ve interpreted their curious stare as judgement, felt depleted at the fact that yes, it was just the two of us, and boy oh boy that horrible voice in my head would’ve run absolutely wild. It would’ve told me all crazy things like yeah babe, you are incomplete.** You’re not as worthy as the other tables of chatty, happy families. This should’ve been a family holiday. Instead, it’s just you. You’re a failure. Your poor son, where is his dad? This is your fault.
This loop would’ve consumed and eventually broke me. Entirely ruining the trip with my son. And really, what a colossal waste of precious time! I can’t tell you how many hours, maybe even days if you add it all up, I’ve wasted on such useless, toxic thoughts. And I look back and wonder what the hell it was all for? Negative thinking is a slippery slope. Once you’re on, it’s super hard to jump off and it becomes almost addictive in some perverse, masochistic way. Your self worth is so low, you start to believe you deserve to feel this bad. Things will never be better. So what’s the point in trying to fix it? It’s only once you take one small step away from that shitty ride at the carnival no one wants to go on, you realise how much better life can be if you just. stop. hating. yourself.
Our time in Los Angeles, after time on a co-parenting trip in Colorado (which I realise I’m brushing over but what I learnt during this time deserves its own post), combined with encountering this phrase several times a day, gave me pause to reflect on just how far I’ve come in a relatively short period of time. We were having an absolute blast. Do you think I was willing to let negative self talk spiralling from someone innocently asking if it’s just the two of us ruin my time? Um. No. It’s easy to forget how much we’ve changed, but the universe places these meaningful milestones along our path so we can compare what we once were, to who we’ve now blossomed into.
All those hours meditating, chewing the ear off my life coach (HEY MONI!), writing in my journal, syncing my life with the god damn moon to help me let go with shit when it’s full, and manifest exactly what I want when it’s new, strengthening my spiritual muscles by not reacting to situations I once would’ve, being around nature as much as possible, surrounding myself with awesome people who nourish my soul… I’m telling you guys… IT WORKS. I’m reaping the rewards every single time I catch myself putting myself down, or working myself up over pointless stuff, and flip it to think of something awesome about my day, how lucky I am, or an attribute I really like about myself.
Travelling with my son made me realise when you invest the time into loving yourself and accepting your present, you eventually get to a point where you genuinely love it’s just the two of you. Those awful thoughts of feeling incomplete… wondering why you don’t have a “perfect” family… they just melt away. They don’t matter. Just like those truffle fries you just ate because you’re on holiday and your toddler doesn’t give a stuff, he just wants to see you smile and play with his trains on the ground in a department store with him.
You become this unbreakable, exclusive little club. You become everything you thought you’d be when you imagined what your family would look like when you were young, because you realise everything you seek is within you, you’re already whole, it doesn’t take an extra person to create that. I didn’t look at what’s missing, but instead, marvelled at how lucky I was to have the chance to hung out. Just the two of us. Play together. Do cool things like visit Disneyland. There was no drama. No BS. Just a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, falling asleep holding hands, catching a bus to Santa Monica just because we felt like hanging out at the beach, sleeping in – because why the hell not!? This is exactly what I’ve always strived for. I wanted to create an awesome family life filled with love, fun, mateship, resilience, acceptance, and I realise that every baby step led me to achieving exactly that. If you have the chance to travel solo with your child, I can’t emphasise more to take that opportunity. Not only for your own personal growth, but our relationship became stronger than I thought was possible. Somehow, I fell even more in love with my son and our life. I became more confident. I understood the only limitations were my mind.
Oliver is my best friend. I love nothing more than getting to know the man he’s becoming. Navigating the world, just the two us, empowers me. Watching his little mind expand when it encounters new things, people and situations, well that’s just the best feeling no drug could ever replicate. We’ve created this hive of unconditional love and the best stuff in life grows out of that, just like flowers budding from super fertile, luscious soil. I grow out of that. My son grows out of that. What a magical feeling. It’s better than I could ever have imagined almost two years ago, when getting out of bed was painful. Now, we’re exploring the world. And I jump out of bed every morning.
** just to be clear - no one judged us. I think they were just confused about the dynamic of a young(ish) single mum and her toddler travelling alone on the other side of the world. Which is totally fine. I was never one to blend into the crowd anyway. We were always so welcomed and received the best American hospitality everywhere we went. A lesson: NEVER let fear of what people MAY think stop you from living your best life with your little love.
**I have so many beautiful women ask me how I’m so strong and positive. Firstly, I chuckle to myself because if only they knew, and then I give them to advice I received from my tribe - love yourself. Love yourself hard. It won’t happen overnight. It’as hard work.. But with baby steps, such as writing something nice about yourself at the end of the day - even if it’s as simple as “my hair looked nice today,” it starts the ball rolling for you to begin accepting who you are, as you are. And perhaps… liking yourself!? A truly horrifying concept these days! You have to really want to heal your heart. You have to want it so badly, you don’t give up when at times self work just simply sucks. It’s hard, icky work delving into your own issues, insecurities, hangups and taking responsibility for your past. Every time I post, I have readers tell me this is exactly what they needed right now. So I hope, if you’re reading this, and this is what you needed to hear, you can see being cracked open and putting in the hard yards it’s so damn worth it.