A Single Mom’s Summer Quest for ME Time: 5 Weekends, 4 Countries, 4 States and 1 Powerful WhatsApp Message.

I couldn’t tell you the rationale behind the initial thought process. As summer approached, my calendar quickly filled with worldwide and domestic excursions and outings. This summer, I set out on my #EpicSummer Series. I commanded authority over a summer full of “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” moments.

In a five-week timeframe, I have boarded 12 planes and four trains. I’ve conquered Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Houston, Atlanta,Wilmington (Delaware), and New York City in  the United States, Pisa, Florence, Siena and Amalfi Coast in Italy and Cancun in Mexico!

As with most educators, I am blessed to get much needed time off to recharge my mind, body and patience. July 10th – August 15th belonged to me and I was determined to make the best of it.

I am sure by now you know the way my life is set up. I’m a single mother who travels the world with her three beautiful, intelligent, well-mannered children while living in a foreign country. (I know my children will read this so I’m shooting for mommy points here – low key * Smile *)

Unlike many of my other trips around the world, my #EpicSummer series was different. I purchased only one adult fare to each destination for four of five summer weekends. I am sure this is where most may gasp, clutch their pearls, and criticize such a bold decision as a single mother. I am quite sure many would question what they would consider a selfish decision.

Every mother reading this article knows that being a mommy encompasses a myriad of job titles. Being a single mom can be twice as hard. Motherhood is a beautiful experience and every moment with my crew is a blessing. Still let’s be honest; single motherhood can be a daunting task accompanied by days that challenge you to the brink of insanity.

For the last two years I have filled the position as the sole CEO and CFO of 4 Deep. My resume also reads as the driver, cook, tutor, nurse and so much more. Parents know exactly what I am talking about. I decided that I was going to take one summer for me. Yes, I said it four out of five weeks dedicated solely to me. I didn’t do this to run from my responsibilities as a mother. I did this because I wanted to ensure that I made time for myself doing what I love to do, traveling. I yearned for time to recharge and renew my spirit. Time to unapologetically reward myself for beating the odds and ensuring my children do as well.

This was the time I designated to lose myself so that I could find myself. Something I urge every mother to do from time to time. Dedicate time to yourself doing what you love. Just in case you thought I went on an irresponsible YOLO (You Only Live Once) tangent around the world. I strategically used these weekends to relax, network, inspire, make new friends, reconnect with old friends, spend time with family, vision build, strategize and meditate.

I will admit that by the end of the second weekend guilt was starting to sink in. At this point, I hadn’t physically seen my children in over a month. The children opted to fly to America earlier without me so they could see their father and family. This was the longest period of time since I’ve entered the world of motherhood that I have ever been away from them. All my guilt and worries were eventually laid to rest when I got a reassuring What’sApp message from my 10 year old daughter. Four simple words eased my mind. “I’m happy for you”. After reading that message I knew that everything was okay.

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During my time as a temporary nomad, I noted some of my own personal thoughts. Some may seem deeper than others.

It ‘s okay to be alone.

All my life, I have never experienced being alone in my own space. This fact never truly dawned on me until this summer. My living arrangements have always consisted of parents, siblings, cousins, college roommates, an ex husband and\or my offspring. I’ve never spent an extended period of time by myself. As a young divorced single mother, I initially struggled with the fact that I may never remarry and could eventually die alone with 50 cats. How depressing is that thought? At one point this devastated me to my core.

After spending some quiet time with me this summer, I realized that I am a pretty cool being and I am okay with spending a lifetime with me minus the 50 felines. Please let the record show that this is not my first option but it is an option if need be.

Every destination I visited, whether it was a group trip or solo excursion, I made new friends and I made it a point to spend time with me. My travel companions may have thought I was a party pooper. In Italy, Atlanta and Cancun, I spent an entire day either poolside, in a hotel room, or a guest bedroom of my host’s home doing nothing. All of this was by choice.

I utilized this time to reflect on me in a new environment. Some may see this as wasted time while traveling. I ensure you there is nothing more productive then finding yourself while doing nothing.

Men of Italy love my melanin and men of Mexico love my curves.

I was warned in advance about the men of Italy. They love black women I was told. The first day or two in Italy I questioned whether I was missing something Italian men desired. Where was that attention that my chocolate sisters spoke of? Then one day it happened. While walking the streets of the Amalfi Coast to the nearest beach I was approached by a carrot top pale skinned lad.

He immediately introduced himself while spewing unrequested information about being a waiter while simultaneously studying law (as if this would impress me). He was persistent in his attempts to make his chocolate dreams an actual reality. Even after I told him that my “friend-girl” was my wife in an attempt to dissuade him, he still insisted. I think that actually brightened his day. A two for one just made his persistence worthwhile.

The men of Mexico appreciate the curves of a sister and have no problem letting you know.

I’m still a Boone’s Farm kind of girl.

While in Italy, I sat at a dinner table positioned directly across from an Australian businessman and to the right of an American surgeon. In between sips of fine wine they exchanged travel stories. We all swirled, gargled, and sniffed each glass of wine the waiters poured for us. As we were sampling the wine I realized that sometimes all you need is a bottle of Boones Farm to do the trick. Even the nine dollar bottle of moscato that is marketed by some rapper on his latest hit single can take you further then the $75 dollar bottle of white wine I sniffed and gargled direct from the Tuscany Vineyards.

I am all for experiences and I know how to ‘fake it until I make it’ but sometimes you just want to turn up some convenient store top shelf.

The Air BnB gods are on my side.

Being that I am all for a good savings when traveling, I decided for the first time I would use Air BnB for my accommodations while visiting New York. If you aren’t familiar with Air BnB it is an online community that profiles host that would like to rent their entire home or vacation property or a single bedroom to travelers. At first, I was a bit hesitant at the thought of sleeping under the same roof with a stranger. However, after further review of the New York City hotel rates I chose to take my chances.

Thankfully, the Air BnB gods showed favor to your girl. My Air BnB host was a handsome 27-year-old Broadway actor with a warm smile that accentuated the eye candy before me. To top it off, he was from 3rd Ward, Houston, which is my old stomping ground. Rooming with a stranger was no longer the situation. I felt like I was staying with my handsome little cousin. (Shouts Out to David in Harlem. Check him out on Broadway)

Black face is still a thing in Italy.

Italy was absolutely beautiful minus the black face I witnessed during a Palio di Siena celebratory parade in the streets of Siena. Seeing multiple participants’ parade in the streets covered in black paint with shabby Afro wigs gave me mixed emotions. Their portrayal of the Jamaican culture was also just as appalling.

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I live a GUACAMOLE lifestyle.

I am sure you are probably saying to yourself HUH?! During the fourth weekend of my summer break, I took a trip with some sister friends to Cancun, Mexico. Since, I was traveling without my children; I decided to be carefree on this trip. Although my friends were probably thinking since I was the veteran traveler, I would have an extensive itinerary available upon request. This time around was not the case. The minute I got off the plane, I decided that while in Cancun I wanted to only accomplish one thing. I embarked on a quest to determine who offered the best Guacamole in Cancun. That’s it.

I had no need to pay for overpriced tourist excursions. For me, life was going to be as simple as possible. I ordered guacamole for breakfast, lunch and dinner and by day two my friends accepted my current quest. While in Cancun, I accepted the simplicity of life and traveling. I was okay with going to a foreign country, breathing the air, utilizing my broken Spanish and eating Guacamole. Life and traveling doesn’t always have to be complicated. I realize that I can travel and do absolutely nothing but breathe the air and embrace the culture and still enjoy myself. I encourage everyone to book a ticket, sit by the pool and order guacamole. Life will never be the same!

 

I must take this time to express to my dad and step mother how appreciative I am of them. During my summertime quest, they without hesitation stepped up in my absence and ensured the children were well provided for while visiting America. I love you guys.

Tanai Benard

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Email: TanaiBenard(AT)gmail.com

www.TanaiBenard.com

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8 thoughts on “A Single Mom’s Summer Quest for ME Time: 5 Weekends, 4 Countries, 4 States and 1 Powerful WhatsApp Message.

  1. Your daughter’s comment warmed my heart. Bless.

    Hope to see you again soon (hopefully over there; we really liked it over there). 🙂

    Like

  2. I’m sorry you ever felt a measure of guilt for recharging yourself before your babies returned. But I know too well, as a mom this is just normal. I adore you and feel so proud of you. I know, it’s unconventional as I am a stranger to you. But you are doing fantastic in your rearing of your babies and your keen attention to your personal development. Carry on sistah!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your thoughts. I recently went on a solo trip without my children. Every time I told people that they looked at me sideways. I did not care. Some had that judgmental “how dare you do anything for yourself” look. Others had the “daMMM, wish I had done that” look. My children saw how important it was for me to pursue something I loved. The only regret I have is that I did not do it sooner. I will do it again. It is so important for mothers to pursue what they love, in order to fill their own cup. I have been following your adventures and I continue to be inspired.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! As a single mother, I am empathic to your “mommy guilt.” Like you, I realized that in order to be a better mom, I need alone time to think, meditate, pray, rest and relax. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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