I often think about my love of travelling and how having children would have implications on that.
So when Torre DeRoche of Fearful Adventurer and author of the book Love with a Chance of Drowning posed a question I felt compelled to answer it.
If given the chance, what adventure would you embark on despite your fear?
Torre set two conditions: 1. It inspires you, 2. It scares you.
Hmm… What adventure inspires me and scares me? There are adventurous things that scare me – like flying or heights (no bungee jumping for me thanks or doing something like this), but I wouldn’t say those things inspired me (although I am in awe of those who do them). Ok, back to the drawing board.
I still have plenty of adventures I’d like to undertake, but whilst they inspire me, none of them really scare me.
To my friends, I’m the brave one.
Whilst I’m not an adrenaline junkie, I love to travel the world by myself and have no qualms about taking long solo journeys and doing adventurous things like white water rafting (that’s my legs there on the right), hanging out with Great White Sharks (eek) and climbing big ass mountains (puke propelling myself all the way up).
But I’ve been hiding a secret. ..
There is one adventure that I am afraid of. I’m in total awe of those who have done it. My mum’s done it, many of my friends have done it, in fact billions of women have done it. What am I talking about?
Having children. The thought of having kids completely terrifies me. Being a parent is the ultimate responsibility. I love kids. In fact I’ve worked with them for much of my adult life. Nothing inspires me more than seeing a young person develop. I’ve worked with children all around the world and their natural ability to play, use their imaginations and find joy in the simplest of things makes me happy. But to have my own?
Currently when I travel, it’s only really me that I have to worry about, so I do travel to destinations that are pretty much deemed non ‘kid friendly’. Not that I think travel stops completely when you have kids, quite the opposite. In fact, I can imagine that travelling with children gives you a wonderful new perspective on the world.
But I would have to moderate some of the types of travel I like to do, at least for a while. I mean, I couldn’t take a child along with me whilst I’m working as an overland leader for two months in Africa, could I? But then I know I wouldn’t want to leave them at home either. I read a post that kind of explained my fears, from the ‘other side’ when Christine Gilbert wrote, The Slow Death of my Dream to Sail the World. Even without children, I understand this.
But it’s not just the travelling thing. I’m an auntie. Those of you who have nieces or nephews will know what a joy it is. My little niece is the most beautiful little girl and I love her with all my heart. I’m generally referred to as ‘Crazy Auntie Helen’, which I love. She has brought so much joy and inspiration into my life, it’s unreal. I can’t bear the thought of something happening to her, so I can’t even imagine how that must feel with your own children. I think I’m scared of loving another person SO much.
The thing is, I missed the twenty-something traveller boat. In fact I didn’t discover long-term travel until I was 29 and never would have expected my life to take such a turn, but it did and that’s the exciting thing!
I do regret (sorry I know us adventurers aren’t supposed to admit regret) that I didn’t start travelling at a younger age, purely for the fact that there’s so much to see and so little time. But I also love being a slightly ‘older’ traveller, I grab experiences with both hands because I know how precious the time is. I’ve spent the last 33 years relatively footloose and fancy free (kind of). But if I had children? Well life would inevitably be different and I’m scared of what that would mean.
Being older comes with complications though. I know 33 is not old in the slightest, but there is a time window on having children. I have time left, I know that. But another twenty years would be nice. A lot of my friends of my age are having kids, people like to constantly remind me of the fact that I’m “not getting any younger”, and ask “when’s it going to be your turn?” and tell me that I need to stop travelling and “settle down”. My husband wants kids, and I do too, I really do, eventually. But I just wish I had been a bit more productive with my younger years. But hey, that’s life. We do what we think is best at any given time and then we must stand by our choices and give them the energy they truly deserve. No half measures.
Change is inevitable. Having children would undoubtedly change me, my view of the world and the way I travel it. If I am blessed enough to have children of my own one day, it wouldn’t stop me travelling, but it might change the way I travel… at least for a while. I’m not quite ready yet, and I might never be.
I’d be stepping into the unknown, like I’ve done so many times before, just with a lot more responsibility this time. It’s all about adapting, learning and making the most out of whatever situation you are in. I’m a traveller, I’m good at that. And being a parent could be the ultimate adventure, not something to be scared of. Just a different type of adventure.