A parent of three, I often find myself imagining what my children will “become” once they leave our house and enter “the real world.” I visualize the possibilities: a teacher, a president of a successful company, a computer programmer or even an Olympian. I see my children as successful, kind-hearted and loving adults who give back to their communities.

As our kids’ stages of life and interests change, these visions of mine are altered to a certain extent. However, I have always held an enduring nudge in my heart for our middle daughter. I see her moving to a place with snow-capped mountains and finding a career in snowboarding. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but she does look like a snowboarder and possesses the necessary strong personality.

I tend to receive a chuckle from people when I say this about our middle child. Despite my belief in her destiny to become a snowboarder, she has yet to experience firsthand a snow-capped mountain. The realization dawned on me recently that I could be the one holding her back. How could I possibly introduce her to snow-capped mountains if I’m afraid to travel?

I Confined Myself to a Box

I was blessed to grow up with parents who took us on summer vacations to many of the attractions in the Midwest, and we even flew to Florida once. However, as I grew older, I confined myself to my box.

If I was going to travel, I would get there by vehicle, definitely not by plane. Traveling seemed so unrealistic. The thought of travel seemed to heighten my fears. I didn’t know if I would I ever get over my fear of traveling from that moment forward.

This changed when our children grew past the “daycare stage.” My husband and I wrote down a goal to provide our children with the gift of travel. There were two things I knew for certain. One, we would have to become financially disciplined to achieve this goal, and two, I was going to have to force myself to get past my fear of traveling.

Our hope was that the gift of travel would go well beyond all the gadgets and stuff we could provide for them. Our hope was that traveling would allow all of us to explore new places, appreciate other cultures, enjoy being together as a family and encourage adventure.

Adventure Is Out There

We now travel. We try to find a small destination each year with a longer more elaborate trip every three years. The excitement in our kids’ eyes when we start planning a trip—and the excitement in their voices when they spontaneously recall something from a previous trip—tells me we’re giving our children the gift of travel for all the right reasons. Most importantly, my family is teaching me to not fear traveling, but to love traveling.

As I was putting laundry away in our oldest daughter’s bedroom, I found myself studying her wall. She has a quote on the wall that says “Adventure is out there” surrounded by all of the bumper stickers she has collected from the places she has visited. As we began to reminisce about our travels, my daughter said, “Mom, there are so many places I want to see. I just want to take my camera and go.”

During this very encounter, I found myself thinking, “Maybe it’s not our middle daughter destined for the snow-capped mountains. Maybe it’s our oldest daughter.” Maybe it’s her sense of adventure that drives our family’s traveling experiences. I smiled and said to her, “I hope no one ever takes away your sense of wonder, your sense of curiosity, your sense of adventure. I hope you never give into the fear of travel.

So while I have all these visions of our children and their future, I’m reminded to simply be present with them today. I’m reminded to not get caught up in the end destination and to be part of their journeys and adventures. I’m reminded not to limit myself to my comfort zone. I’m reminded to not give into fear because, when I do that, I take away my children’s sense of wonder, their sense of curiosity, their desire to “just go on the adventure.”

And I most certainly don’t want them growing up and learning to give into the fear of travel.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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