While walking inside Sydney airport with my dear friend and colleague Jenny at the end of January this year, I couldn’t quite believe the journey I was about to undertake. This was the beginning of the first holiday I had ever taken in my life without my family. It all started from a wish I expressed one day to a friend of mine. When I said I would like to take a break by myself for a few weeks the response was “Oh my God! You are going by yourself, then who will look after your kids?” Interestingly enough when my husband went to India for three weeks by himself last October , not a single soul asked him who was going to look after his kids. But it didn’t stop me.
Imagine that you have to do this wonderful course for three weeks in a faraway place to get a great promotion at your work with good money to come in. Then your parents and in-laws may pitch in to efficiently manage your family while you are away, as you are putting in those extra hours and getting paid for all that hard work. But what if you tell them to come and help your husband to look after your children for three weeks as you are desperate for a holiday of your own..aha….now the story will be different. .I think the biggest disapprovers may not necessarily be your parents, in-laws or husband, rather it would be other women friends of yours thinking “How can she be thinking of doing such a thing?! I would never leave my husband and kids for pursuing an enjoyment by myself!”
During those three weeks it is fair to say I missed my family but I enjoyed the trip thoroughly. North India enriched my days with its exotic colour, smell and taste. I momentarily forgot my world here and each day I immersed in the vibrant beauty and chaos that the day presented and lost myself completely in that. The freedom from daily life chores, work and responsibilities wrapped me like a warm blanket in those winter weeks. This trip became the best thing that I had done for myself and it rejuvenated my mind body and soul.
Did my family survive? Of course they did. They were happy, healthy and comfortable; and my husband did a brilliant job looking after the kids. When I came back, they came to the airport with a bunch of flowers. As soon as my six-year old saw me, she came running and jumped in to my arms. My 10 yr old walked over with a bunch of flowers, her face beaming with a big smile, handed over the flower as if it was the most important ceremony of the day. Together with my husband when we walked to the car again I felt the warmth and belongingness only a family can give us slowly filling in the air.
Ever thought, why does it sound like a big deal in our society, when a woman takes a holiday by herself? If we look in to this Australian society, holiday by herself or with her friends is a routine thing Aussie women do. In our culture, it seems when it comes to a rejuvenating and relaxing activity a woman does, be it travel or anything that she is passionate about MINUS the family, knowing without her their world is not going to end, she is actually viewed quite differently by many people around her. A friend’s husband once told me he prefers doing everything as a family, when I invited my friend to do an activity by herself with a group of women; I guess it is fine as long my friend doesn’t feel a need to pursue an activity by herself. If she feels so, should she be denied that just because the family is not involved? Curiously, the same friend when she spent a week at a spiritual retreat on her own without her family, the attitude was that she should go as she is going there to pray for herself and for the family even for this whole world. So is problem here, the attitude or the activity? What does this mentality reveal? Since our kids are brought up in a mix of two different cultures how are they going to view these things or would they simply follow the footsteps of their parents
I learned that if there is a will, there is a way. I learned that once we start to think beyond the four walls that we are conditioned to believe, the possibilities are endless. If we are able to challenge our own attitude and thoughts in order to pursue an activity that we are so passionate about, our world will not end but in fact it may expand. Then we realise that in our culture too women’s dreams don’t come with an expiry date, after all.