One of the things I believe in wholeheartedly is setting your intentions and asking the universe for wisdom and guidance to achieve those things. Let me tell you — I know from experience that you better be sincere with whatever those requests are! Sometimes the answer you get will hit you square in the face! Oftentimes my answers haven’t always looked the way I pictured them on the front end of the questions. Nevertheless, I’ve learned to be open to experiences, and they have always been rewarding. Such was the case last December. I looked at my life and asked myself, “What am I missing? What am I not getting out of life right now?” The immediate answer: travel.

Travel has always been a personal passion that I felt would always be a part of my journey. When I got married and had kids, I always felt I would be the mom who traveled with her family. In my mind, having kids wouldn’t tie me down or deter me from seeing the world. Well, that didn’t happen. I did get to travel some, but not nearly as much as I hoped. So travel was the request I inquired of the fates and destiny. Lo and behold, I received an invitation to go to Africa that same month! I’ve always wanted to visit, but I never thought it could happen so soon. I jumped right into learning more about the trip and decided to book it. Opportunity doesn’t often knock twice!

But as quickly as the opportunity came, so did fear and anxiety. I had the strongest urges to cancel the trip for a myriad of reasons. First, how could I consider myself a good mother leaving my kids like this? I get anxious sometimes when I leave them for a meeting that will only last a few hours. I was going to be halfway around the world for twelve days, and I thought to myself, what mother does that?!

Then the safety concerns flooded my mind: My safety could be in jeopardy. Something could happen to the plane. Why was I putting myself at risk, potentially setting my boys up to not have their mother? I had nightmares of being kidnapped, falling victim of some international ploy, all kinds of things. Traveling was what I asked for, and it was my dream, but it felt like the responsible thing to just stay home.

Most moms can probably relate to this. Have you ever needed a weekend away with your husband or the girls? Like, you REALLY need some time to just mentally renew yourself? But then you think about being in a hotel or resort two-and-a-half hours away from your child, not able to be there in case of a real emergency? What if the baby gets sick or needs you? It’s eerie how much fear can wrap itself up in practicality in our mom minds. It happens all the time, and it can be the biggest killer of our hopes and dreams, preventing us from doing really amazing “big” things and even important “small” things we need for self-renewal.

But you know what else crept over me as I thought about going to Africa? Guilt about doing something fun for myself. It might sound crazy to some, but I feel like we mothers are subconsciously fed this story that once we become moms, our lives are no longer our own. “It’s not about you. It’s about the baby.” I’ve heard that in my mind more times that I can count. It equates the notion that anything I do for myself that’s fun is selfish and bad.

Yes, mothers (and parents in general) should be selfless when it comes to their children, but where did that internal narrative come from? Do our lives become this dismal, muted existence with nothing but bleak despair to look forward to after we have kids? I say no, but I had to fight myself to really believe that for myself. Even as moms, we should be aspiring to be our best selves and live our best lives. That includes doing things and making choices that bring happiness to our lives! It’s not selfish; it’s self-care. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Realizing that, I fought fear, guilt and anxiety, and went to Kenya. I’m so glad I did. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! Those fears that manifested in my head? They were nowhere to be thought of in the airport. And, absolutely nothing traumatic happened to me on the plane. I spoke to my kids via video, and they were fine. Furthermore, I did myself another favor and routed my flights to visit some lifelong friends in Dubai I hadn’t seen in years. Why? Because staying connected is a part of my self-care. It was all a lesson to teach me not to let unrealistic feelings of guilt rob me of that in any way.

So that’s the message I leave with you, mom. Doing things for yourself shouldn’t be a decision wrapped up in shame. Wanting to be happy and healthy isn’t a crime. Tha’s simply self-care. And it’s a necessity — one that you need to pursue with all the passion you have inside of you. So, mom, make it happen today!

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