So You Dated a Girl Who Travels, Settled Down & Had Kids. Now What? ~ Caroline Mellor

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Mother

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You fell in love with her free spirit and the sparkle that lit up in her eyes every time you said: Let’s just go.

You were seduced by the way she smelled: of sweat and sea air, essential oils and sun cream. You watched the sunrise over the mountains together and lay beneath a blanket of stars by firelight in the desert. You swam in turquoise seas, lived in an old 1950s bus and made friends from all over the world.

You missed her when she disappeared for a few months at a time—but knew better than to try and stop her.

When you couldn’t get away in winter, you watched movies about faraway places and drank chai and Spanish wine and ate exotic food and fantasised about your next trip.

She thought she’d never be tied down.

She had too many adventures to go on, too many places to see, too many stories yet to be told. And yet, somewhere along the road, your hearts entertwined. Perhaps inevitably, you began to put down roots. You created a home together and grew a garden around it.

And then the most magical thing happened: you started a family.

And just like that, the rip cord marked Eject!, on which she’d kept one finger lightly resting all these years, vanished.

She learned a long time ago that life really is much, much too short for regrets. Besides, it’s not in her nature to look back. She’s more in love with life now than she’s ever been—and when she loves, she loves with every spark of fire in her being.

That’s not to say that, from time to time, she doesn’t question whether she’s wandered too far from her wild nature. She looks at old photos and sometimes wonders what happened to the girl with the tanned skin, the flat abs, the anklets and the golden glow of the sunset in her eyes.

Of course, she plans to travel with her children. Chances are they’ll grow up with their noses in many books and their toes in lots of different oceans.

And motherhood has in itself, without doubt, been the richest and most life-affirming journey she’s ever been on.

But for now at least, the spectacular privilege of being able to hop on a plane with a few clothes, a toothbrush and a passport, and emerge hours later in a different world, with different rules—to leave it all behind and just go—with no idea where she might end up, has been put aside.

Because babies and children don’t really work like that.

So she keeps the soul-flame alive by traveling any way she can: the inner journeyings of meditation, learning, reading, writing, dreaming. And she dreams of travel. With her children. With you. Alone. To the faraway or, at the very least, the elsewhere.

Disregard these dreams at your peril: they reside at her core and pull on the sinews of her heart.

She needs movement. Encourage her to sustain a yoga practice, to go swimming, to run, to dance. Without it she will turn to stone.

Go on family camping trips and listen with her to the sound of rain on the canvas. It takes her to monsoon in the jungle and springtime in the mountains.

Don’t bat an eyelid when she quietly slips off her sandals to walk barefoot through the park. And if she takes off her shoes at a wedding or in an ancient woodland, don’t bother asking why. She will never quite be able to reconcile being in a space she considers sacred with having her shoes on.

Hold her if, for some unfathomable reason, she grows desperately sad at the sight of raindrops on still water or if you catch her standing motionless among the spring blossom as it flutters down like snow.

Let her haggle in a completely inappropriate upmarket shop, and be surprised when, in a spirit of fair play and friendliness, she manages to shave a few pounds off the price.

Understand why she’s looking at flight deals online even when you’re struggling to pay household bills. Part of her needs to fly—even for pretend.

Climb hills. Visit beaches. Watch moonrises. She needs horizons like you need air.

And, as far as possible, travel. It will feed her spirit and enrich your whole family.

And if you can do all this and more, you will be rewarded with the rarest and most precious of creatures.

For she is capable of love without limits.

For she will pass on the breadth of her experience to your children and make each day with them a fantastic adventure.

For she has learned the wisdom that the real journey often starts when you stay in one place.

And above all, for she has chosen you to travel alongside her on the greatest trip of them all.

Just go with her.

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Photo Credit: Flickr/Liana_Kyle

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Caroline Mellor

Caroline Mellor lives close to the sea and the green hills of southern England with her daughter, cat, and husband-to-be. As well as being a mum, writer and massage therapist, she enjoys one-pot cookery, gardening, yoga and drinking red wine. When not partaking in one of the above, she is probably daydreaming about her next holiday. You can connect with Caroline through her blog.

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anonymous Mar 26, 2015 5:33am

I cried. I read this over and over and over…married. settled. kids. responsibilities. home school. and the list goes on but I spend every free “me” moment in the depths of looking at pictures, reading travel blogs, secretly look at flights around the world. I dream. I read. I talk about getting back out there to travel. I hope that I will get the opportunity again (or, make the opportunity?!) to get back out there and interact with the world in a way that I so desperately miss and deeply desire! Thank you for your candidness!! xo

    anonymous Apr 23, 2015 7:12am

    Thank you for reading and for your beautiful comment Laurie. I'm so touched that it struck a chord with you, and comments like yours spur me on to keep writing. Thank you x

anonymous Nov 6, 2014 2:00pm

tears…..this is me to the t…thank you for telling my story and giving me hope 🙂

anonymous Nov 2, 2014 11:30pm

So beautiful and made me cry. I’m still really young, restless, and wild, and I always get sad and conflicted when I think about ever having to settle down, or stoping wandering. This is so sweet and makes me see the future a little brighter. Thank you.

    anonymous Nov 24, 2014 7:40am

    Thank you for your lovely words, Katie x

anonymous Oct 22, 2014 6:34pm

This is so beautifully written it brought me to tears. Don’t have kids but settled down anyway with my love. It describes the feeling of being in the place you are meant to be and yet not so perfectly.

    anonymous Oct 25, 2014 11:18am

    Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment Anna x

anonymous Aug 14, 2014 1:43pm

Travel is my career. I met my husband on a mini vacation in the Virgin Islands 27 years ago. I knew he was the one for me because of many signs but he was the first man I dated that didn't want me to quit my job as an international flight attendant. I was never going to stop traveling and he understood this about me. So I turned him into a world traveller with me. We married about a year later. We have 3 children who also have travel the world with us . They are now all college age and travel the world on their own. I just turned 50 this year and I'm starting to think about retirement. But I know I will travel until I'm just to old to do it any more.. It's in my bones and I can't imagine a life without travel and adventure. In fact I'm in Seoul Korea on a layover as I write this!

anonymous Aug 14, 2014 10:12am

Living in NY, I met my girlfriend while she was on a 6 month work study program in manhattan. Travel is her thing. After 3 months apart I just flew to England to meet her family for a month. We flew on to Thailand after for another month. I ran out of dough but she went on to finish Southeast Asia. Now I’m home working and at school, I won’t see her till Christmas time. We just had our one year anniversary on August 4th. This column is seething with truth. Fellas love your girl and want her to feel free. She deserves it.

anonymous Aug 13, 2014 9:19pm

Kids grown up? Time for having fun before the grandchildren come along. Life has many chapters.

anonymous Jul 10, 2014 5:17pm

My husband just sent me this on our 15th anniversary while I’m travelling in London from the US. I’m with my 2 boys ages 12 and 14. You just summed me up. Thank you

anonymous Jul 10, 2014 6:31am

hi,

my advice for this lady would be " dont marry. stay single, live your life. as you are not ready to carry burden of family. dont expect family to carry yours

anonymous Jun 10, 2014 3:31pm

This is very beautifully written! Thank you for capturing my thoughts. I have read it many times but I still get teary-eyed. Recently, my husband and I traveled to Europe with our 3.5-yr old. We had planned this even before we settled down but establishing a family never really was a deterrent for us to do it. It made the experience different but enriching. I love the fact that you acknowledge how you much you love your children and I can't imagine how your life partner loves you so much too. (And, I also do the "looking at flight deals online…even for pretend". Hahaha)

    anonymous Aug 19, 2014 9:51am

    Thank you Elaine, I'm so pleased you like the piece. I look forward to enriching travels with my children too!

anonymous May 27, 2014 4:07am

Absolutely fantastic and brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful read!

    anonymous May 28, 2014 6:52am

    Warmest thanks Stephanie! x

anonymous May 26, 2014 9:43pm

I am practically in tears. So beautiful. Thank you for speaking for us traveling souls <3

    anonymous May 28, 2014 6:51am

    Thank you so much Victoria, I am touched that the piece resonated with you x

anonymous May 26, 2014 9:39pm

You capture the universal unencumbered "me before we" so perfectly. Makes me ponder the little ways I feed my own writer yogi soul during these love/hate years of necessary domestication. Thank you for the gift of your words. As others have said, they brought tears to my eyes.

    anonymous May 28, 2014 6:48am

    Thank you so much Monette, your kind words mean a lot to me. And I love how you describe "these love/hate years of necessary domestication" – yes! Warmest wishes x

anonymous May 26, 2014 8:13pm

This is an amazing piece of art! Thank you for sharing your exquisite words. 🙂

    anonymous May 27, 2014 4:21am

    Thank you so much, Gerry. Warm wishes.

anonymous May 26, 2014 6:12am

Jip, that's pretty much the Type 7 of the Enneagram you descirbed there… But really well done!

    anonymous May 27, 2014 4:21am

    I hadn't heard of Enneagrams, but I'm glad you think the piece is well done! Kind thanks x

anonymous May 26, 2014 3:46am

It is really well written, very moving….

anonymous May 25, 2014 2:19pm

Having a baby and helping to continue the overpopulation and overconsumption of the Earth is the most magical thing???

Guess not much was learned during all that travel.

    anonymous Apr 24, 2015 1:47pm

    Having A baby doesn't add to population growth. Having Multiple babies is a problem.

    Here is simple math for you:

    2 parents having 0 babies ends that line of genealogy. If everyone in the world did this humans would be extinct very quickly

    2 parents having 1 baby is splitting their genetic pool in half For the generation below them.

    2 parents having 2 babies keeps the population equal for the next generation.

    Having MORE than 2 babies increases the population For the next generation.

    having no kids doesn't mean you're saving the planet

anonymous May 24, 2014 3:57am

this too brought me to tears. Blessings to you from a kindred spirit xo

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:34am

    I am deeply honoured by your kind words. Heartfelt thanks and blessings x

anonymous May 23, 2014 3:13am

This one perfectly describes my girl! 🙂

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:33am

    Thanks for reading and commenting, Akky 🙂

anonymous May 22, 2014 2:57pm

Umm can't this be true the other way around too? Babies might not come out of men, but the sentiment rings true…

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:32am

    Yes, Fabian, absolutely it can apply to men and all wandering and restless spirits everywhere! I am simply writing from my own perspective as a woman and a mother. It was also partly inspired by another article titled '(Don't) Date a Girl Who Travels' which is written in a similar style, and is addressed to the partner of said 'Girl'. Thank you so much for reading and commenting; I am deeply touched that the sentiment rings true for you. Blessings x

anonymous May 22, 2014 2:46pm

Amazing!! Loved it <3

anonymous May 22, 2014 2:18pm

I’ve read this several times today, each time I’ve come to tears. Wonderfully written.

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:27am

    I am honoured and moved by your comment. Thanks and blessings x

anonymous May 22, 2014 1:10pm

Oh this is just so so beautiful. It touched my soul and pulled at my heart! I feel like this definitely describes me! I love the idea of my children 'dipping their toes in many oceans' in the future! Thank you for this!

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:25am

    Thank you from my heart! Your kind words mean a huge amount to me. Go well x

anonymous May 22, 2014 11:28am

Absolutely beautiful piece of writing….(:

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:21am

    Huge thanks and blessings for your kind words, Shelby x

anonymous May 22, 2014 10:57am

this touched me deeply. beautiful. thank you

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:20am

    Your words touch me deeply also Eli! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Go well x

anonymous May 22, 2014 9:10am

Also tears.. wonderful

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:17am

    I am deeply touched by your kind words Leigh. Thank you so much x

anonymous May 22, 2014 4:07am

Love this. Beautiful writing 🙂

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:14am

    Heartfelt thanks, Zenbeard! I am quite new to sharing my writing publicly so this really means a lot x

anonymous May 21, 2014 11:16pm

Brought me to tears. Beautiful!

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:10am

    I am touched by your kind words, Jacquelyn. Blessings x

anonymous May 21, 2014 3:55pm

really beautiful. i feel you described me, though not yet settled <3

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:10am

    Thank you for reading and leaving such a lovely comment, Bethany. It means a lot to me x

anonymous May 21, 2014 2:38pm

Beautiful <3

    anonymous May 25, 2014 3:07am

    Thank you so much Yoli. I enjoy reading your posts too x

Jen Silver Oct 18, 2016 8:01pm

Beautifully written! But please, if this article resonates, join the Worldschoolers group on facebook. I am an admin and we have over 16K members, many of whom travel fulltime w their families! I have done so w my 3 kids since 2005. Abs are still flat(ish), eyes are still glinting, and seeing the world with my kids is so much more fullfilling than my backpacking ever was. It can be done! <3 (facebook.com/silverlininglife)