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'As a single mum travelling with my son, everywhere I went I was asked the same question.'

“So is it just the two of you?”

Shops, restaurants, taxis, planes… I can’t tell you how many times my toddler and I were greeted with this phrase when travelling America as yes, just the two of us.

It didn’t bother me, but it got me thinking how to other people – strangers – the sight of my son Oliver and I travelling around a foreign country with weird Australian accents may have looked strange.

They’d search my face, expecting me to respond with “no, my husband is just paying for the taxi, he’ll be here in a second.” It became a fun game to watch their intrigued gaze linger a little longer than usual when I’d enthusiastically reply, “yes, it’s just us! We’ll sit right there at the window, thanks.”

Just to be clear – no one judged us. I think onlookers were just confused about the dynamic of a young(ish) single mum and her toddler travelling alone on the other side of the world. Which is totally fine. I was never one to blend into the crowd anyway.

travelling as a single mum
Elizabeth and her son Oliver. Image: Supplied.

We were always so welcomed and received the best American hospitality everywhere we went. But not too long ago, such a question would’ve crushed me. I would’ve interpreted their curious stare as judgement, felt depleted at the fact that yes, it was just the two of us.

Boy oh boy, that horrible voice in my head would’ve run absolutely wild. It would’ve told me all crazy things like yeah babe, you are incomplete. You’re not as worthy as the other tables of chatty, happy families. This should’ve been a family holiday. Instead, it’s just you. You’re a failure. Your poor son, where is his dad? This is your fault.

This loop would’ve consumed and eventually broke me. Entirely ruining the trip with my son. And really, what a colossal waste of precious time! I can’t tell you how many hours, maybe even days if you add it all up, I’ve wasted on such useless, toxic thoughts. And I look back and wonder what the hell it was all for?

 

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The two happiest people hanging out at the happiest place in the world ???? {he was happier than this, I swear}

A post shared by ???? ELIZABETH ???? (@bambiandbaby_) on

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Our time in Los Angeles combined with encountering this phrase several times a day gave me pause to reflect on just how far I’ve come in a relatively short period of time. We were having an absolute blast. Do you think I was willing to let negative self talk spiralling from someone innocently asking if it’s just the two of us ruin my time? Um. No.

It’s easy to forget how much we’ve changed, but the universe places these meaningful milestones along our path so we can compare what we once were, to who we’ve now blossomed into.

Travelling with my son made me realise when you invest the time into loving yourself and accepting your present, you eventually get to a point where you genuinely love it’s just the two of you.

Those awful thoughts of feeling incomplete… wondering why you don’t have a “perfect” family… they just melt away. They don’t matter. Just like those truffle fries you just ate because you’re on holiday and your toddler doesn’t give a stuff, he just wants to see you smile and play with his trains on the ground in a department store with him.

travelling as a single mum
You become this unbreakable, exclusive little club. Image: Supplied.

You become this unbreakable, exclusive little club. You become everything you thought you’d be when you imagined what your family would look like when you were young. You realise everything you seek is within you, you’re already whole, it doesn’t take an extra person to create that.

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I didn’t look at what’s missing, but instead, marvelled at how lucky I was to have the chance to hung out. Just the two of us. Play together. Do cool things like visit Disneyland.

There was no drama. No BS. Just a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, falling asleep holding hands, catching a bus to Santa Monica just because we felt like hanging out at the beach, sleeping in – because why the hell not?!

This is exactly what I’ve always strived for. I wanted to create an awesome family life filled with love, fun, mateship, resilience, acceptance, and I realise that every baby step led me to achieving exactly that.

travelling as a single mum
"If you have the chance to travel solo with your child, I can’t emphasise more to take that opportunity." Image: Supplied.

If you have the chance to travel solo with your child, I can’t emphasise more to take that opportunity. Not only for your own personal growth, but our relationship became stronger than I thought was possible.

Somehow, I fell even more in love with my son and our life. I became more confident. I understood the only limitations were my mind.

Oliver is my best friend. I love nothing more than getting to know the man he’s becoming. Navigating the world, just the two us, empowers me. Watching his little mind expand when it encounters new things, people and situations, well that’s just the best feeling.

We’ve created this hive of unconditional love and the best stuff in life grows out of that, just like flowers budding from super fertile, luscious soil. I grow out of that. My son grows out of that. What a magical feeling.

It’s better than I could ever have imagined almost two years ago, when getting out of bed was painful. Now, we’re exploring the world. And I jump out of bed every morning.

Have you ever travelled alone with your child? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.

A version of this post originally appeared on Bambi and Baby

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