Did I ever tell you that I did not get on a plane until I was twenty-one? Did I ever tell you that from the time I was around five I dreamed of visiting the Eiffel Tower? I visited it for my thirtieth birthday. I got my passport when I was around twenty-three. The beginning of my travel diary was purely for work conferences. I would fly around the country and to Canada (before you needed a passport to go there) to facilitate workshops on conflict resolution.
Those business trips gave me the travel bug. Since getting my passport I’ve visited a few countries, many cities and even stopped by some states. Then JustaBXgirl was born and my traveling became limited again. I would go on a work trip once a year and take her to Disney for her birthday. I dreamed of taking her on international trips. I dreamed of sharing the world with her. I also dreaded getting her passport.
What’s the big deal right? It’s just filling out some paperwork, getting a photo and taking it in. The waiting for it to arrive should be the hard part, right? Well, as a solo parent it was a little more stressful for me than that. JustaBXgirl’s dad isn’t on her birth certificate. Some of you know he plays a very minor role in her life. The absence of that role I felt when it was time to apply for her passport. I started the application a number of times. I always found a reason for the timing not to be right. Now, because he is not on her birth certificate I don’t need to add him to any legal documents for her. That meant I didn’t have to put his information down on the passport application. It meant I didn’t have to try to coordinate a time that worked for us both to go to a passport office. Again, it should have simplified matters for me. Instead, it had my anxiety in overdrive. Would the person at the passport agency judge me? Would they say things that would make JustaBXgirl ask questions I might not want to answer? I made the situation something so big in my mind that I needed JustaNOLAmom to bring me back to reality. She reminded me that every family is different. She reminded me that I am the mother that my child needs. She reminded me that I am not alone in my anxieties. Then she told me to get over it and get it done.
Between her words of wisdom and the fact that I had already booked our first international trip (The Bahamas), I had no choice. I put on my big girl panties, used my own mirror talk and made an appointment for us to go to a nearby post office to submit the application. JustaNOLAmom gave me another pep talk the morning of our appointment. I steeled myself to prepare for awkward questioning. We arrived early for our appointment. We got called to the window. And then it was done! We couldn’t have been seen for more than five minutes before we were sent on our way. We spent more time across the street picking out library books than we did submitting her application.
Mamas, let me tell you something. We spend a lot of time getting into our own heads. Please keep people around you that know how to get you out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share this story here. I wasn’t sure if it made sense to share it here. Then I realized this is exactly where I should be sharing my story. The gift of travel is one that continues to give passed the time you return home and unpack your suitcases.
We, yes we, children and adults learn so much through travel. We learn about other cultures. We learn patience. We learn acceptance. We learn that the world is so much bigger than our homes, schools and communities. JustaBXgirl loves to get on a plane. She’s been doing it since she was four months old. Now that she has her passport she wants to get stamps from all over the world. If you can get passed the imagined worries here are the steps to get your little their passport:
- Fill out the application.
- Print the application.
- Make appointment at local agency. Many post offices offer this service.
- Get photos taken.
- Gather identification documents.
- Get payment ready.
- Go to appointment.
One thing about passports for minors that I would like to point out is that they are only valid for five years. If you do not have an international jaunt planned you might want to wait to get your littles passports. If you do wait, make sure to give yourself enough time prior to your trip to ensure that you do not end up paying extra!
Did I tell you that JustaBXgirl has been asking to visit the Eiffel Tower for about a year and a half now? I’m telling you this little is a better version of me in every way. This spring break we check Paris off of her travel bucket list. Did you have a travel bucket list when you were five? What’s on your current list? Her’s is Paris, back to the Bahamas, Hawaii and Alaska.