When You Can Travel, But Don’t Want to Leave Your Family
What do you do, when your fondest wish has finally been granted, but you feel a bit scared actually getting started? My wish is to travel the world, and see everything I couldn’t when my mental health kept me in a prison of darkness and despair.
I’ve been battling my demons all this time, promising myself I will escape when I feel better. And now that I am fairly stable, and actually have the resources to do it, I feel reluctant to step foot out the door.
My situation is that I have a young family in the Philippines. My wife and I have been married for 10 years, my second, and we have a girl, 9, and boy, 2. I realize that, at 53, most people usually are considering their retirement, but for me, who had no life until this point because of mental illness, I am just getting started.
I have a chance now, even with COVID-19, to go to the US for business, and while I am there, travel around the States and create content for my blog and YouTube channel. I couldn’t be happier, because even though I’m not traveling internationally yet, it is still traveling. Until I feel more comfortable in planes and trains, I will stick to road trips in a car by myself.
I’m going to be seeing new things, doing two things I adore — writing and creating. I am so giddy I can hardly stand it.
My wife and kids are all in my corner. They know my battles and how important it is that I do this. They are financially set up and have plenty of support while I am gone from her family nearby.
So What’s The Problem?
Well, there is a pandemic, that’s the problem. Once I leave the Philippines, there is no chance of getting back in until restrictions ease. With the news of the Delta variant going around, that is a problem. The Philippines as a country doesn’t have a high vaccination rate, and the COVID cases continue to climb.
I will be vaccinated before I leave, but most people here have not been called up yet.
The problem is that — what if there was an emergency, or I wanted to return within say, 6 months, and see my kids? It doesn’t seem likely that the restrictions will ease up in the next year, so if I leave, I am gone until further notice.
Sure, there is Facetime every night, but with young kids, being present and being a parent is important.
You see, I was married for almost 20 years in my first go-around. I have three grown boys who saw little of me as kids because I was either working all the time, or I was sick in bed. They saw the worst parts of my mental illness.
I wanted it to be different this time.
I stay home with the kids. Being a father and husband is my full-time reality. I change diapers and put crying kids to sleep.
But, the kids are getting older. My daughter is becoming independent and my son is more of a mommas-boy. It’s really not a problem for me to be gone for a few weeks or months at a time. But I don’t want them to get used to doing without me. I want them to know I will be here at a moment's notice.
If I leave, what if the borders are closed another two or three years?
How many healthy years do I have left? If I don’t do this now, will I ever realize my dream of travel? You see, travel is not just a nice-to-have. I literally promised myself that if I didn’t kill myself, and I chose to live, I would travel. There were days were I survived only because I dreamed of walking through fields of flowers at the base of a vast mountain range in Norway, instead of splitting my veins and tendons with a razor blade.
It was my life at that time, and those are promises you just don’t break, even to yourself.
But, I have to weigh the impact my not being at arms-length will have on my kids. Sure they have their mom, and I may even be overstating just how important I am to them, but I am a father, and I don’t want to destroy the bond I have with my kids.
So there is a battle going on in my mind right now. Over-thinking and loss-of-sleep. I find myself daydreaming at times when I should be focusing. I find myself in tears at times when I hug my wife and kids.
Is it like that for everyone?
My greatest fear is that I will go out and travel and come back and my kids won’t know or relate to me anymore. I know technology is great, but can it make up for touch and closeness?
I wish I could just bring the wife and kids along, but with their age and COVID, that is not really possible right now. And with my wife, my goals are not necessarily her life goals, and I am not going to force her along on mine while she misses out on hers.
But, you know the only things that scare me are dying with regrets for not doing what my heart and passion needs to do, and regrets for not being there for my kids when they needed me.
Regret is all I am frightened of.
When people die of old age, they don’t lay in bed thinking of all the money they made and the career goals they crushed. They think of the time missed with family and wish they had more. They think of the passions in life they didn’t fulfill because they were too busy earning a living.
The thing is, I have an opportunity to do both. I can spend time with my family here at home and be fulfilled, or I can travel and fulfill my soul with memories and stories.
How do I manage to do both?
If there is a secret to all this that I am missing, I wish the universe would fill me in instead of hiding the answers like a cruel joke.
What does a man in my situation do with these choices?