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Relaxed in Porto Morelos, Mexico, January 2014

Relaxed in Porto Morelos, Mexico, January 2014

I was that close to win the imaginary “Mother of the Year” award.

Yoga during pregnancy? Checked. No alcohol? Checked. Barely ate any sushi or rotten cheese? Checked. Natural birth? Checked. Breastfeeding? Checked. Complete devotion to that little crying thing? Checked. Bonding with baby using a sling and carrying said little thing nested on what was left of my breasts 24/7? Checked. Vaccinations and pediatrician visits? Checked. Transition to solid food with lovingly prepared meals (WalMart-bought fruit purée and cookies counts, right?)? Checked. Walking at 12 month? Checked. Early potty training (peeing butt-naked on the beach counts, right?). Checked. Thousands of pictures taken and shared? Checked. Produced cute toddler everyone seem to love? Checked.

And then I made a decision that may cost me a few thousands in therapy sessions when Mark is older.

Oh well.


We came back from Mexico last Wednesday. I didn’t want to leave the place where I finally felt good, where I finally felt like myself. I offered to keep Mark with me in Mexico and to stay there for a while. Feng thought it’d be too hard on me. Maybe he was right.

I threatened not to board the plane. Of course I did—I’m not that crazy.

I cried as we took off. Mark was just fine, though, a seasoned traveler. I did the crying for the two of us.

We landed in Ottawa. I didn’t want to be here. Nothing personal against Ottawa or Canada—I still love this land and its people. But it’s not where I need to be right now.

I need some space. I need some freedom. I need to do things by my schedule. I need to sleep when I’m tired, to eat when I’m hungry, to pee when my bladder is bursting.

I need some peace and quiet, some rest.

Winters are tough here. They are tougher with a kid (all the moms say it, it’s hard to keep them busy indoors!). They are awful when you don’t feel that great. Empty streets, salt-bleached roads, minus-too-fucking-cold temperatures, little or no people outside—you gotta be strong.

I am not that strong right now.

So I am taking that freaking break. I’m going to travel alone for a while.

Yes, I am leaving Mark and Feng behind this time. It would be unfair to drag Mark on the road again—after all, he is only fifteen-month old. And Feng has work that he must do in Canada—I can take my work with me.

It’s not an easy decision to make.

Traditionally, daddies go on business trip, go to war—like the Pink Floyd said, Daddy’s flown across the ocean”. No one bats an eye.

Mommy leaves home, it feels different. Worse—mommy doesn’t even have the convenient excuse of a business trip, she is going traveling!

But this is my therapy. Some people take drugs, I take my passport and go. I used to travel alone. I love being anonymous in a foreign country, to discover a new culture and to walk new streets every day.

I know Mark needs me. I need him too. But he deserves a mother who has it together and right now, I am faking it. He is not stupid. He feels it too. I’m not being constructive here. I was a great mom in Mexico and I want to be a great mom here in Canada too but I need to fix myself first.

This is not one of these “fuck the world” trip. I am perfectly sane (no, really!) and everything is planned. Mark will stay with my in-laws in Ottawa (and Feng is here too if needed). And I do have a return ticket.

I feel guilty but at peace with my decision. Judge me or don’t, I don’t give a damn. I am in survival mode.

Wanna follow my travels, once again? I picked a cool place, I promise!

I am packing and leaving soon.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. This is exciting! Don’t even open your ears to any judgment if it’s there. Only you know what you need, and other travellers will understand this. 🙂 It will be interesting to see how you evolve through your trip and where you end up feeling like your heart lies. All the best. x

  2. Very VERY excited about this, Zhu! I think you’re doing no harm (seriously), in contrary – you’re king yourself, Feng AND Mark a favour. You need and deserve the space you crave.

  3. Wow. You are a woman of action. You’re doing what you need to do for yourself and your family. I’m cheering for you and hoping that this adventurous trip lets you come home refreshed and better. I look forward to reading about your travels!

  4. Where? Where? It sounds like you are making the right decision – you are such a super hero all of the time and to continue being so, you need to take your ‘you time’ every now and again for the good of everyone! I can’t wait to hear all about it. I am a lone traveller too. I love it. It is a therapy to me. I hope you will find it so for you too!

  5. The thing I liked most in this post? :

    “Judge me or don’t, I don’t give a damn. I am in sur­vival mode.”

    Survival mode. Recall this each and every time remorse will try and get you down, until you are back.
    And recall it also when, once you are back, Mark will behave nasty with you, to “punish” you for your absence. He may not, but he might, just be prepared and know you had no choice: Survival mode.

    Go find yourself and take her back with you, to your family who needs you both (or maybe whole is the word). And don’t forget to have a great time! Just to make this time worth while, since you’re at it 😉

    Btw, when my son was two and some months, I gave birth to his sister, and obviously had to stay some days at the hospital, and then was mostly absent for two weeks, because of the hospitalization of the newborn. Well, he survived (and I don’t foresee any therapy sessions!), I guess Mark will too 😀

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. You’ve been a pretty amazing reader, providing advice without being patronizing (something a lot of people don’t master!). You are a wise woman… and a great mom I think. Definitely an inspiration for a mom-in-learning like me!

      • Me an inspiration? Not really! Maybe one who has already fallen and got back up many times on the path of mommy-hood, and being another freelance home-working mom can understand you quite a lot!

        Anyway you’re my inspirational Canada expat translator mom, so we’re quits.

        Have a very recharging journey! (and tell’us where your going, come on!!!)

  6. Like Holly, I’m really dying to know where you are going. My first thought was Asia, but now I’m starting to think about South America …

    Good luck and go take care of yourself! Your family will be much better off if you are healthy and happy.

    We’re looking forward to hearing all about your adventures!

    • Not Asia (didn’t want to go too far, plus I needed a cheap ticket!), not South America either 🙂 I’ll keep it secret for now, just for fun!

  7. Good for you! This will enable you to take a new start which seems much needed. Your whole family will benefit from that 🙂 As they say: charity begins at home (and with yourself).

    As long as you are not going to Iceland, you should at least have better weather than here!

    Can’t wait to read all about your journey 🙂

  8. I’m definitely thinking the Caribbean…I hope wherever you end up will give you the rest you need and quench your desire for some solo travelling.

    I’ll be in Cuba myself on Friday for a week, and I can’t wait for some warm weather and sandy beaches 🙂

    Bon voyage, Juliette!

  9. I totally understand you Jul! I have the same desires and thoughts in my head. I can’t seem to do it though.. I hope you are enjoying it! And I hope you are getting back to the way that you feel you are healthy again (mind and body)…

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