I read a very good quote the other day which said: “Motherhood is not the graveyard of your dreams“. In fact, for many, motherhood is the dream. It was my dream for a while, and then once I became a mother I found I had loads more. Small ones, dreaming of a lie in, a solo trip to the supermarket, a chauffeur. Then bigger dreams, a return to a career, travel and time. Time to do some of the things I wanted to do like walk, a really long walk.
So, with no children at home, I went, I spent 6 weeks walking across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. A 500-mile pilgrimage. I had my rucksack which had the minimum clothes and supplies I needed and that was all. I stayed in Pilgrim hostels with 60 people to a dorm in bunk beds (think snoring and smell)!
It was truly life changing in so many ways. Walking across a country is amazing, you get to see things that you never would if you were in a car, you stop at cafes and churches that are not accessible by public roads and pass through stunning little villages that you would otherwise possibly not find.
Having everything in a back-pack is so liberating. I had 2 pairs of trousers (both the same) a pair of shorts and 3 shirts. No decision in the morning about what to wear, no worrying about what you look like in what you are wearing. Due to the need to keep the weight of my pack to a minimum, I had a toothbrush, toothpaste a bottle of soap stuff that washed hair, body and clothes and a small pot of Nivea. It was all I needed.
The most extraordinary thing for me was just being me. I was alone, I wasn’t someone’s wife, mother, sister, daughter. The people you meet obviously know you are those things, but they are temporarily part of another life and they just get to know you. I felt like a teenager, well the early 20s is probably more accurate. I was strong and capable and funny and interesting and all the things that I felt had slightly diminished over the previous 18 years.
For those 6 weeks I remembered who I was, the kind of person I wanted to be, that I’m not just someone’s wife and someone’s mother I can still go after my dreams while helping them fulfil theirs, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can have both.
That was 2016.
2017 – I spent 2 weeks walking from one side of England to the other (Coast to Coast Walk)
2018- I walked the border between England and Wales (Offas Dyke) and in 10 days time, I am off to walk the Portuguese Camino. Thanks to a very understanding husband, this is now my annual time to refocus and reset. Every time I come back from a walk I make promises to myself of things I’m going to do and things I’m going to stop doing.
Often ‘Real life’ gets in the way and some of these get lost or diluted, but the following year I re-evaluate how I have done, what I have achieved, set new goals, come home and begin again. Don’t ever think you are too old to do this, all you have to do is walk, I have bad knees and hips and I go anyway and I will continue to grow until I can no longer put one foot in front of the other.