In the six years since my divorce, I have traveled a lot with my kids. It took some time to feel confident and comfortable managing two young boys on my own. As someone who was used to having a second adult around, it was a big adjustment to suddenly manage packing and schlepping luggage and car seats and dealing with a sensitive Little Man on a flight and in taxis, etcetera.
I finally did take a trip to Mexico with my bestie Kari and her daughter a year or so after the divorce. She is a really calm and collected Mama, so she was terrific to have as a travel buddy. She also owns and runs her own preschool, and she’s just kind of magic with kids in ways I am not. She’s really good with my Little Man in particular and can diffuse tension quickly and effortlessly.
On our way home, we had to clear customs and I trudged over to the officer with my kids and my carry-ons. The officer was friendly and nice. He looked us over, looked at our passports and, with a smile said, “Where’s their dad?”
I was kind of taken aback. My first thought was, “Is it not the 21st century? Am I not allowed to travel without a man?” I shook off those incredulous thoughts and blurted out the next thought that came to my mind: “I don’t know. We’re divorced. I don’t need to know where he is anymore.” He kind of seemed disarmed and smiled.
He looked us over, looked at our passports and, with a smile said, “Where’s their dad?”
I’m not always this outspoken. Although I often have a big mouth in my YouTube videos (YouTube allows for that!), I don’t always speak up, especially when confronted with a male authority figure. This time, I couldn’t keep it in.
Much as I know that many women travel without husbands and they aren’t divorced, for me, this kind of travel was new and scary, but also exciting. To be reminded that some people still expect me to be with a husband felt like a shock to my system.
Several years later, I am used to traveling alone with my boys. I have not been asked since that trip where my husband is or where my boys’ father is. But I always stay on alert. Because you never know when someone else’s curiosity–or their intrusiveness or their bias–might become part of the story you tell yourself about yourself.
My boys laughed hard when I told the officer that I am not their father’s keeper. I honestly never was and never wanted to be. But do I sometimes wish I had someone as tall as their dad with me on planes? Of course. Kari is a great travel partner, but at 5’4”, she doesn’t add much to my ability to cram everything into an overhead bin.