This is really happening! My words and thoughts are actually being read on THE Huffington Post. I keep saying to myself that “This can’t be happening right now,” but then I realize it’s so happening at this very moment. I rub the genie lamp and wish I get this right, I pray the comma splice gods bestow their grace upon me. If I were star struck I would probably Google myself to find out who this awesome person is whose words I’m reading. I mean, she has to be a totally awesome rule breaker because I am almost certain you shouldn’t start off your very first Huffington Post article with OMG, right? Before you Google the awesomeness which is I, I would like to make my best attempt at a proper and somewhat formal introduction to you all.
The majority of strangers who recognize me often greet me with the “Hey you’re that single mom with the three kids who lives in the Middle East and travels around the world, aren’t you?” Normally, I’ll issue a bashful grin and a statement that sounds something like “yeah, it’s just me and my kids.” About halfway through that statement I start to look for a non-existent sign accompanied by a flashing Vegas styled arrow that directs me to the place where shy introverts such as myself can hide in times such as these.
First of all, I can’t believe that strangers are recognizing me in public. Secondly, I can’t believe this is my life right now.
It’s a fact that it doesn’t amaze me that I’ve become an E-list celebrity because my life went viral. (Maybe that’s a stretch but in the eyes of my children I am somewhat of a rock star).
It’s the fact that as a divorced young single mother, my children and I have become active participants in the forefront of the most recent urban and mommy travel movement. At one point in this journey, I compared myself and my situation to something like this: a unicorn standing at the end of a rainbow next to a leprechaun holding a box of Lucky Charms cereal on the 31st of Feb.
Once upon a time well-traveled African Americans were about as likely as sprouting wings and flying to the moon. We were like one of the Publishers Clearinghouse winners. You knew they existed someplace, but you never met one and doubted you ever would.
Exploring the world after entering the journey of motherhood was taboo and often frowned upon. I would imagine being a single, working parent and traveling abroad with kids was more frowned upon and judged than the above-mentioned world of motherhood. Mothers were shamed into believing they had to be grounded until they became empty nesters. As a mother, I was programmed to believe this philosophy myself. I could see myself getting the green light to travel as soon as the kids were off to college or I retired and had fully recuperated financially after paying for the college tuition of three stair steppers. You know what I mean, after everybody and everything was taken care of in their life and I would be too tired and worn out to really appreciate that life of travel, then I’d be able to go and do what I wanted. Thank God and the Universe my life didn’t turn out that way. How boring and bland would that be?
Today I stand here as one of the poster moms for the new normal. I am one of the many wandering moms who have made a conscious decision to see the world with my Cool Kid Crew by my side.
Together we are making an honest effort to conquer the globe one country at a time.
My three elementary aged children and I are affectionately known as 4 Deep Around the World. In the last few years we have turned a life of food stamps and public assistance in America into a life filled with passport stamps, traveling around the world, and living abroad. I most recently spent 45 days of my summer on an epic adventure around the world. I had the opportunity to eat my first serving of sticky mango rice from a street vendor in Thailand and we zip lined through the rainforest of Rotorua, New Zealand. We even made memories with Mickey and Minnie at Disneyland in Los Angeles and I also danced the night away while sipping a plethora of not so virgin pina coladas on the beaches of the Dominican Republic. The last 45 days of my summer have been filled with unforgettable memories from four countries and eight U.S cities
One day I made a deal with myself that I would make an honest effort to ensure my children would get a fair opportunity to immerse themselves in those things that many only read about or watch on television. I don’t want them to have to depend on textbooks or the media to educate them about other cultures, religions and countries. As we know from experience sometimes those two entities gets it wrong. My goal for the Cool Kid Crew is to have a new life experience every 100 to 120 days. Whether it’s riding on a yacht in Dubai, roaming the streets of Nairobi, visiting a temple is Sri Lanka or watching their peers perform a haka in New Zealand, I want them to experience it all.
In these experiences I also emphasize to them that just because you were born into the world as a welfare recipient doesn’t mean you are forever sentenced to a life of poverty. I definitely don’t want them to forget where we came from. However, I want them to have the mindset of believing you don’t have to remain in a place or situation if you choose otherwise. I want my children to know almost anything is possible if they want to change it. We experience and see a world that’s diverse and full of adventure. I am making an honest efforts to raise open minded and kind hearted global citizens who believe they are destined for greatness.
Here is my mindset: Fear is not an option in 4 Deep Around the World. Facing diverse experiences in different countries allows us all to be open minded, non judgmental, thankful, aware of how small this world really is and appreciative of God’s wonderful creation. We are all a part of something much bigger than any of us. We are citizens of a global world we wouldn’t have known existed if I had not stepped out on faith and the trust to follow my heart.
I don’t regret any of this journey. We have a lot more traveling and learning to conquer before we’re done. It’s written in the stars and my children and I believe in reaching for the brightest ones.