It is very common to hear nowadays “Oh, I’ve always wanted to (insert adventure or place)” or “That’s on my bucket list” but it is becoming more rare to hear someone fulfil that wish or check mark that bucket list adventure. My husband and I decided we didn’t want to be those people.
I delivered my daughter nine days before my 30th birthday. It was a challenging time because I ended up having HELLP syndrome that showed up five days before her due date and had to have an emergency c-section. The recovery was slower than I had anticipated and, as is typical, it wasn’t the birth experience I had expected. For my 30th birthday, my husband wrote me a letter and presented me with a few, very odd gifts. The letter shared many wonderful sentiments and at the end it said “We will never have to be the couple that says ‘I wish we were 30 again so we can do ____, which we always wanted to do, but never did…’” I was intrigued, of course. As I opened each gift, the pieces of the puzzle came together and the last gift was a travel guide to Australia. My first thought was “I just gave birth, and you want me to fly!” My husband reminded me that traveling to Australia had always been a dream of ours and that he would like to take me sometime in the next year. I was excited and anxious! Traveling to Australia was our dream; however, we had this new, little life in our family that was changing everything for us on a daily basis and I was still recovering. How were we supposed to go on this adventure to another country when we were facing the challenges of diapers, feedings, no sleep, and “is that normal?” moments? We began to put the idea in the back of our minds and told ourselves we may have to wait a little longer for such a trip.
Fast forward a few months. My husband and I began talking again about the possibility of our trip to Australia. Our minds flooded with questions of how to make it work. You see, my husband and I are the type that when told we would never be able to do it or that something is too much of a challenge, we make it happen! Stubbornness can be a beautiful motivator when used appropriately. We began looking at websites to see which cities we would want to travel to in Australia and played around with how many weeks we would need to see those cities. I remember my husband coming home one day with a big grin. He was approved enough vacation time that we could travel to all the cities we wanted to in Australia! We were excited and began the detailed planning process, which for us involved a laptop, an Excel spreadsheet, and a notepad.
I remembered hearing a mom in my MOPs group share that she had spent a month in Australia, so I immediately contacted her and asked if I could pick her brain about her experiences. She was so helpful and suggested I contact MOPS Australia to connect with MOPS moms who might be able to answer my specific questions. I think our family and friends thought we had gone a bit crazy! They kept asking if we would be taking our daughter, and when we said “yes”, their response didn’t have the same excitement level as we had expected or that we felt. We continued to plan and reminded ourselves that we weren’t going to be that couple that allowed doubt to get the best of us. During our planning period, I often looked at the MOPS theme card that was in our welcome packet this year. Be you, Bravely. It began to have a new meaning for me.
When I reached out to MOPS Australia, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would someone write me back? Would they find my questions odd? I was so excited when I received an email from Lexia! She connected me with a MOPS Regional Coordinator named Gabriel who lived in Melbourne, the first stop on our trip. I immediately emailed Gabriel with a ton of questions and we planned a Skype date to go over them. Gabriel was so patient with me as I asked question after question. I felt a sense of peace talking to another mom and knowing that this trip was totally feasible with an 8 month old! I sometimes forget that God’s hand is in all things, and we just need to take a deep breath and trust. Living by faith and not by sight was my family’s motto growing up and I kept repeating it in my head as we got closer to our trip.
Long story short, our trip was amazing! We saw so much of Australia and our daughter did wonderfully. She even got her first two teeth while we were there! We had the pleasure of meeting Gabriel and her three wonderful daughters. They welcomed my family with open arms and allowed us to take a break from the stress of traveling. Further along in our journey, we enjoyed time with Lexia and her family and had the chance to ask questions that we had gathered about the Australian culture during our travels. Both moms reminded me that it doesn’t matter where you are from or where you are going; MOPS moms are here to help each other along the tumultuous road of motherhood. These women inspired me! When we returned to the States, I felt God’s calling to step up and take a leadership role in my MOPS chapter. Be you Bravely has never meant more to me than it does now. Thank you MOPS Australia for showing my family love and kindness! Thank you Lexia and Gabriel for your hospitality and willingness to help my family feel at home in a new country! We will never forget our experience!
Don’t be scared of the unknown. Reach out to fellow moms. You are not alone, no matter where you are! Be YOU Bravely!