Single mom families need adventures more than other families

I’m big on adventures, especially as a mom. And maybe, especially as a single mom.

My kids and I call our Saturdays “adventure day” when I try to plan an event – a trip to a children’s film festival or special park or drive to visit an out-of-town friend. We have routine adventures we enjoy during the week after school: taking the Roosevelt Island tram to Manhattan followed by a walk to Dylan’s Candy Bar where Helena and Lucas always pick out the shark-shaped gummy candy. In the summer we jump the East River Ferry to DUMBO and ride the carousel, eat ice cream and stroll the boardwalk. Sometimes we invite friends to join. Often it’s just the three of us.

We live in New York City, so adventures are not hard to find. After all, a subway train runs two blocks from our apartment — on a slow afternoon we can hop on, ride for 20 minutes, jump off in a totally new neighborhood for a cookie and be home for dinner. Even car drives are exciting. City dwellers don’t ride in one every day.

I guess I’ve always been a pretty adventurous person. In my teens and 20s I traveled all over the world — as a student, by myself, with my ex-husband — and never thought twice about picking up and relocating to a new city. I’m up for traveling anywhere, eating any thing and talking to any person. My ex shared a similar sensibility. That was one of the things that brought us together, and we planned to continue that when we started a family. In Helena’s first year — when her parents were still married — she rode on an airplane 16 times, including a trip around Europe.

I’m gearing up for bigger trips: the kids and I often fly to Illinois to see family, and last summer rented a lakehouse with friends. But I fantasize about riding the zip lines in Costa Rica, whitewater rafting in the Rockies and hiking the Alps with my kids. Part of these daydreams are about sharing my love of challenge and meeting new people and exploring the world. But part of it is just having fun. I want my kids to have happy memories of their childhoods, and of their mother. I want them to know that life is not just about survival. When you’re doing it all on your own, and it’s tough, it can be easy to get hung up on just getting through the everyday.

While I sometimes find myself googling “volunteer vacations with kids + Asia,” it’s the small adventures, the little moments of joy that I help cultivate for my children that make me smile now.  Monday was miserable, cold and rainy and I couldn’t face an afternoon trying to entertain two kids in an apartment. And so we went on adventure. We drove our trusty 1999 red Subaru Forrester named Rosie to Ikea, which, given the city traffic and poor weather took as an hour drive. And because they are city kids, they’ve hardly ever been inside a big store like that, and they giddily ran through the mock living rooms and bedrooms and we ate meatballs and lox and lingon berry juice. And then we  loaded our few little purchases into Rosie, split up a cinnamon bun, cranked up LCD Sound System and car-danced in the stuck traffic, rain drizzling on the widows, happy all the way home.

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