And Just Like That, I was Crying Uncontrollably

Judgemental Expression - Stockphotos

People judge. They judge others every day, haphazardly. It’s like a plague that eats away at you. Today, I judged myself and just like that, I was crying uncontrollably in crowd of people. I couldn’t stop but I was in the city and I couldn’t hide. So I cried and rather than people judging, a friend, in the guise of a stranger, was there. Kind, considerate, understanding. I wasn’t alone.

It started yesterday. I was feeling sick about leaving Athena home for 2.5 weeks. It was a bad decision. I got caught up in it. She was going to join me and we’d spend the time visiting Latvia and Austria together. It was going to be beautiful. A bonding experience that I’d never forget. Something that would make me stronger as a mother, and I knew I was capable, but was it good for her? People started to judge. Asking me if I thought it was too far or too long of a flight. Asking me if she was too young. Asking me…; you know… just asking and asking. It ate away at me until I was consumed with it. Was I being a bad mother for dragging her on flight after flight for a trip that she’d never remember?

My mother-in-law offered to take care of her while I was away and I said ok. I convinced myself that it was best. She did it out of kindness and love and I even thought it would be good for Athena to spend the time with her grandmother, but deep inside I knew I would be the one to break. The daily moments are special because I share them with her.

In Latvia, I managed. I was touring regularly with a representative from Live Riga and she was more like a friend or even family member. It made it easier. Bearable. Even fun.

Then, I arrived in Austria and I was feeling more uneasy. It was a new city with new people and new experiences. Vienna is one of the places that I had on my list since I was a child. History, culture, beauty, music, palaces, and charm; I longed to experience it.

Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria

I visited Schoenbrunn Palace yesterday and it was filled with gems for the entire family. As I strolled through the zoo, I saw a hippo and I remembered Athena’s reaction to the hippo at San Diego Zoo. She couldn’t stop laughing at the hippo poopies (the hippo’s tail). I laughed at first but quickly fought back tears because she wasn’t at my side to see the new hippo. I shook my head. Shook it off. I would see her in less than a week. She was fine.

Palace Paths, Vienna

Again at the Children’s Museum, I fought back tears as I watched little girls trying on real princes dresses and exploring the children’s rooms in the palace. It was only a matter of time before I lost it. There was so much that Athena would have loved. The zoo, the dresses, the horses, the real carriages that looked like something from Cinderella.

Palace Paths, Vienna

Carriage, Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria

There was so much that I loved. The palace, the zoo, the gardens, the traditional dinner, and the Mozart concert. It was more than I ever imaged. I was in the pages of royal history and walking their paths. I managed. Then today came.

I visited Prater Amusement Park and I sat down to eat kasekrainer, a sausage with cheese. (It was absolutely delicious by the way.) I was the only one sitting in the out-door dining area but I could see people walking by. In that moment, my mind was still. I wasn’t thinking about where I was visiting next or what train I had to catch.

Those judging demons crawled through my brain like a spreading virus. Why did you leave her home? Why did you listen to others? You could have managed. She’s home without her mother. She’s going to remember that you abandoned her. And just like that, I was crying uncontrollably.

The tears rolled down my cheeks. I turned my head away from people passing by but they were on both sides. I held my breath and counted to five. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Think of something else. Get control. Salzburg tomorrow. What time am I getting the train? When should I pack my bags? More tears. More people noticing. Less control. Damn it! I could feel my face getting red. Blotted with marks.

Then a woman, alone, sat down at the table with me. Something in German. “I only speak English; I’m sorry.” Calmly, she said, “It’s a cold day, isn’t it? Can I help you?” I shook my head and said, “I’m sorry. I’m just visiting and I’m away from my daughter. I just miss her. Everything is fine.”

We chatted for more than 30 minutes. She said that she didn’t have somewhere that she needed to be, other than there. She’s a mother too, although her children are grown.

She said that while my daughter may remember me being away, she will also cherish all of the worldly stories that I have to share with her and all of the future adventures that we will have together. She will know that she is loved and I am a good mother.

I came to Vienna for the culture, the history, the sights, the sounds. Not once did I think I was coming for the people. It never crossed my mind. Yet there she was.

Not judging.

All of this made me cry more because I knew it was true. But now I was crying for a different reason and I wasn’t alone so I didn’t care.

Vienna, you have everything I dreamed you would have but you have so much more. Clara, you have revived my view on strangers, who are not so strange.

We are all alike and never alone.

I am a good mother and I love my daughter with every ounce of my heart. She brings a light into my life that burns so bight it can be felt and seen from all corners of the world. These next few days will be filled with new experiences and I will share them all with Athena when I return home. She will always know that her mother loves her and every precious moment spent together.

Share this post as a reminder that we all need a little less judgement in our lives and enjoy the blessing that we are given.

96 thoughts on “And Just Like That, I was Crying Uncontrollably

  1. Bless… what a lovely post! Athena has a lovely mum who has a busy life! 🙂 And I am glad you have had your faith in the kindness of strangers reaffirmed. “Good Samaritans” are rare, but they are still out there. Enjoy your reunion with your little princess… there will be many adventures she can share in with you again soon…


  2. Such a beautiful expression of what you must have felt. You never cease to amaze me. As for being at crossroads regarding the decision, there is no one who reads this post who would feel otherwise about you being a great Mom! I wish you a load more adventures in life. I am sure your daughter would be very proud of you, either as part of your adventures or when she is developing great bonds with her Grandmother while you are away! Loads of luck and wishes and hugs!


  3. I’m a mother of 4, this post really moved me. You are a wonderful mom, you did what you thought best for her at the time. You can visit Vienna again in future when she’s a bit older, I’m sure it’ll be more fun.


  4. What’s that saying, the kindness of strangers, a heartfelt reminder that people are people everywhere. Can be difficult when we may have not closely listened to our instincts. However very few “wrong” decisions in life, just occasionally some reminders we experience that we wish we could have got an easier way!


  5. Great post!

    I’m not a mother, so I can’t even imagine how tough such decisions must be for you. I am positive though that when you next return to Austria, with your daughter in tow, she’ll have a wonderful time with her mummy (who now also knows all the best attractions!!).

    For me, this post brought back so many great personal memories from my trip to Austria and its amazing people! Thank you 🙂


  6. As a mother of four daughters that I adore, and having struggled many times with this type of situation, one thing I am sure of is that it is not easy being a mom and I think generally speaking, life is full of compromise. Women in particular seem to have an inbuilt sense of guilt that they must be there and available for their children 24/7. I have no doubt that little Athena had and will continue to have great memorable adventures with Dad and Granny in the future. 😉


  7. It’s quite alright that you felt overwhelmed without your daughter. Yeah, you shouldn’t have listened to other people, because it’s great what you are doing with her… blah blah blah. But oh well. You know now. But think of it like this…Athena can later on in life travel to the places that she didn’t get to go and reenact your trips and pictures. My favorite picture that I took was at a loft my stepdad owned in London back in the 70s (although, I feel he should have NEVER sold it, but I digress). I love looking at pictures of when kids take the same picture as their parents from WWII. It’s just so much fun and memorable. Athena can do that…so take some great photos.


  8. I wouldn’t judge you for leaving your daughter behind. Every parent deals with being apart from their little ones in different ways. I think it is good to have some time a part from your kids once in a while. My mom would take care of my eldest daughter when she was a baby for two weeks every August when her daycare was closed so I could fast track and finish my courses throughout the summer. It was tough being away from her, but it made us love each other even more when we were together again. It also allowed for me to re-energize myself and see myself as more than just a mom for a little bit. You have done nothing wrong.


  9. Always trust that you know what’s best for your child. Yes, that sounds equally true and false: as a first-time mom some will tell you you’re not “experienced enough,” and they might even hint that you’re being selfish imposing what you think is right on your daughter. The thing of it, though, is that you know what kind of values and priorities you want to model for your daughter, and no one can tell you (outside of whatever you’re modeling being illegal or morally dubious) that you’re wrong.

    Right now, until you’re home, you can’t change your decision, but this has been a learning experience about who you are as a parent, and what you think is important for you and your daughter. It’s the proverbial “spilt milk” there’s no use crying over. You’ve experienced this one trip without her, and now you can plan on going back with her, and it WILL BE absolutely new when you return. Kids have that quality…they change things for us, even if we’ve done the thing a billion times.

    Many years ago, when my oldest son was still very young, one of my siblings (who is more financially-comfortable and has led a much more “successful” life) wanted us to send our son to live with his/her family. “Think of all the things TGG can experience! You don’t have time for him…you’ve got J, and -let’s face it- you’re neglecting TGG because of J’s needs.” The word “appalled” doesn’t begin to cover how we felt, but we were in public and a very curt, firm NO had to do. We knew what my sibling meant, but we also knew how utterly wrong this was for TGG, for J and for our family.

    You know what you’re doing. You second-guessed yourself, but (in the immortal words of Eric Idle) you always have to look on the bright side of life: your daughter got to spend time with grandma, and you got to reassess what you’re doing as a mom, and met a wonderful person that helped fine-tune your perspective.

    For whatever it’s worth: I think you are absolutely awesome.


  10. This is a wonderful reflection on your time away, and no doubt, both you and your daughter will be stronger for it. As a mother, I can totally relate – I’ve rarely left my children for any length of time, and when I did, I missed them terribly. I loved my moment of return though, hugs from my little men and smiles, knowing there was a buried treasure in my bag for them both. The tables now have turned…my oldest is getting ready to venture out, and while I am beyond excited for his next great chapter, I selfishly do not want to be left behind. It’s a funny thing being a parent…


  11. I agree with the nice lady. When I leave for my extended trips to Europe in the summer without any of my family, my kids love hearing about it when I get home. And I know that when they are older, I will be able to be their tour guides and show them the world. Hugs to you. xoxoxo


  12. That’s touching! Moments like these change our perspective about people and places significantly. Maybe that’s one of the reasons we’d reach out to a lonely person on the sidewalk next time, just to let him know he’s not alone.
    Hope you have a great trip and lots of awesome stories to share! 🙂


  13. We all can identify. There’s a fine line between doing what’s good for “me” and doing what’s good for family. And sometimes the two don’t intersect. Go ahead and cry. I know I did and still do. But vow to take her back someday when she can see it with you — and appreciate it even more.


  14. You are brave and strong to make decisions like this, and the stranger who stopped to talk to you is right, Athena will cherish the tales you have to tell and will be having a blast with her grandmother.
    Ignore those who judge ~ you will never please all the people all of the time. We are off travelling with our three young children in three years’ time and I know some people are judging us for taking the children out of formal education and to far flung places. BUT you need to trust your own instincts, and make sure you have a million and one stories to tell, hippos and all, and you (and Athena) will be more than fine.


  15. Awesome post! The kindness of people is undeniable. Such a gift.
    I’m scheduled to go to Austria in 2015 and looking forward to seeing all the same things you’ve been to. I’ll be taking 70-80 children with me. Good to see that this is a trip all ages will enjoy.


  16. Fathers feel the same way, at least this father did when his sons were young and I was distant. When you stop to think about other peoples ‘judgements’, try to remeber that they mean little or nothing to your life path and the Only thing that matters is your relationship with your children. Learning how Not to judge takes time and/or a bit of strife in life, but learning the compassion and understanding needed to walk away from judgement takes all that strife away.


  17. I always feel a bad mother, going to work, having a night off and meeting friends, choosing something other than doing something with one of my children. I have yo remind myself that I’m a person too, I need to see and experience things that I can share and do it for me.


  18. Such a beautiful post – really heartwarming. It’s very true that you’re okay to cry – you should cry and let all your emotions out. It’s human. You and Athena will have plenty more trips ahead of you, though – this was an experience. Live in the moment and don’t think of the ‘what if’s 🙂


  19. You are a good mother. To be a good mother you do not have to be with your child every hour of every day. You have to be true to yourself too. You are you. Part of you is a mother. Part of you is allowed to do/like other stuff. I really liked this post because sometimes I have these conflicting views too, and I know how hard and emotionally draining it can be. Thanks for writing and sharing this experience.


  20. My young daughter has traveled extensively. She enjoys it and benefits from it. But I think she also benefits from stories about adventures she has not experienced. Either way, then, I’m sure your daughter will thrive.


  21. Yes, children are very resilient and I believe they are learning how to become individuals with goals, ambitions and know that there is so much more in this world. Your children know you love them and you are teaching them that we can all do many things and still be loving parents.
    Thanks for the like and I love your blog


  22. Awesome story! Tell your daughter you were away to help others (this story certainly made me smile) and that some day she may have the opportunity to do the same 🙂

    Now I’m going back to living vicariously and being jealous of your travels lol


  23. Used to judge all the time … but now with a higher Respect Level and a growing spiritual understanding and appreciation, I’ve learned judging does nothing to improve the quality of life … of my own or others … it’s only a distraction to keep us from peaceful lives.


  24. Interesting post! It’s nice that you shared the reality of travel without dear children. I feel sad every time that I travel without my children. I will spend more than 1/4 of this year outside of Australia. Some some without my children because I travel internationally for work (minimum of 17 hours travel in each direction) and I never take my children with me for several reasons including time, cost, babysitting, and behaviour management. They miss me but in many ways their lives continue as if I hadn’t left because my husband keeps the entire routine going. Occasionally my daughter remarks on my absences but they are generally accepting.
    We travelled through Europe for 2 months with our 3 year old son and 5 year daughter (the total travel time from Australia to France was over 28 hours). The flights were pretty awful but we had a pretty good time in Europe with truncated days and very little time spent doing things that interest adults! They have some memories but they are fading. The lasting impact is the widening of their world view.
    We then travelled through Malaysia and Indonesia for 5 weeks with our 5 year old son and 7 year old daughter. We had a great time and did a few more things that interest adults. Their world views widened even more after encountering the issues of the developing world. I believe that this is the lasting artefact of travel for children, not memories but change in outlook.


  25. You made me cry like a baby. I remember leaving my 2 oldest babies, one age 3 years and the other, 5 months, home with my mother, while their father and I went on a camping trip for a week. It took two days and I was miserable and ready to go home (I love camping…usually.) So I felt your pain, but after that camping trip, they always went with us.


  26. Awww, big hugs. That is a really difficult time to go through. I used to babysit a little boy, while his mom was in the hospital. I watched him day and night for months at a time with his mom out only 10 days of his first year and his dad working non-stop to support them. My pumpkin and I loved each other to death. He had autism, but it was better when I focused attention on him so we hung out all the time. Then Christmas break came, and I left for my family’s house for two weeks. I didn’t think much of it at first, because I had been doing that for years. But as time went on it broke my heart. I remember crying one afternoon right after Christmas because it was the first snow and I couldn’t stop thinking how much fun we would have playing together. I mean, his dad was on break and had time to play, and he was really a good guy who loved his kids. But I missed Zeven so much. It took a couple days when I got back (He was furious with me since we didn’t have Skype and so he hadn’t seen me. The autism didn’t help), but in no time we were hugging and kissing like it never happened. It did teach me one thing, I never went away like that again until he was in school and I left for college. Even then, we both cried and cried. After years apart, I still travel half-way across the country to see him at Winter break and get his hugs and kisses. Frankly, after the first time I figured out that I just couldn’t do it. Conversely, he developed a stronger relationship with his dad! 🙂

    I personally think people are silly who judge other’s relationships with their kids. I’ve known traveler’s kids and military kids who went from pillar to post and loved it so long as they were with their parents. They may not remember all the places (still it’s surprising how early kids can remember), but they remember the closeness with their families. Then again, I’ve known military kids whose parents were gone for years and who only talked on Skype. They are just fine too. 🙂

    My point being, I’m glad someone was around to give comfort; it is so hard to spend time apart. Blessings disguised as strangers are some of my favorite people. On the bright side, soon you’re together again!


  27. don’t for a second doubt that you are a good mother. a bad mother would never miss her daughter as much as you do. and clara is definitely a blessing. there are plenty of good people in this world. she is clearly an evidence of this. this is another reason why you travel.


  28. I recently read somewhere that children are more pragmatic than adults. When she’s old enough, likely that she’ll be happy to understand that her most important female role model is more than just a good mother but also an adventurous woman unafraid to fly solo sometimes. Go easy on yourself. If you don’t, who will?


  29. Oh Lesley, I feel your maternal pain. While I try to be confident in decisions that are good for me, business and personally, when I am away from my sons or have to miss their events, the guilt and the pang of being without them is tangible. It only takes a crack in my wall of determination to create a fissure of tears and doubt.
    How very lovely of Clara, to take a minute out of her day, to be kind to a stranger in sorrow. What a timely reminder that although we all seem so different, underneath it all, our grief, doubts, joy and love, are all the same. And how very happy you will be when you arrive home and into the arms of Athena who will be excited to see you and all abuzz about her own adventures that she can share with her traveling, trail-blazing, Mom.


  30. What a heartfelt post! I love your honest way of writing. Yes, judging is totally unnecessary I have been working years on that…my logic tells me if you don’t like others to judge you don’t do it to others too & I have gotten to a happy & comfortable zone sadly I don’t feel it’s reciprocated by the world that surrounds us…
    Judging in my opinion is like trying to ride a bicycle with sticks in the wheels…it takes five times longer & it gets you nowhere because if you manage to get to your destination you are so drained there’s no room for enjoyment.
    Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to know there are people out there who have time for compassion 🙂


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