Guiding Light’s Yvonna Wright raises her daughters to be world-wise. “I want to experience things with my kids. I want to see the excitement on their faces and know it’s a joy for me and not a job for somebody else.”
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In her reel life, Yvonna Wright has played Dr. Mel Dubrow, a medical doctor, lawyer and mom on the CBS soap, “Guiding Light” for the last seven years. In her real life, Wright is the traveling mom of two girls, Lola, 6, and Marley, 4, her “miracle baby” who survived neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that sometimes goes away on its own, as it did in Marley’s case..
They have traveled the world together, discovering new cultures, black sand beaches and ways to cope with childless fellow flyers who don’t always appreciate traveling with kids.
She’s on the “Guiding Light” set only one or two days a week, which leaves her plenty of time to be a traveling mom. When she and girls leave their Harlem home, Wright is usually on her own–no nanny and often no husband to travel with them.
“From the beginning, I have wanted to do this myself,” Wright says. “I want to experience things with my kids. I want to see the excitement on their faces and know it’s a joy for me and not a job for somebody else.”
TravelingMom founder Kim Orlando caught up with Wright recently to talk about her life as a world-wise traveling mom.
TMOM: You travel with your kids all the time, don’t you?
YVONNA WRIGHT: Yes, my kids and I travel everywhere. My mother and father did the same thing. My father is from Poland, my mother is from the West Indies and I grew up with four sisters and they took us everywhere. I am so thankful that they did that with us, because I feel like we are more worldly and able to accept anybody and any situation and I want my kids to be like that.
TMOM: And your parents did it with no DVD player!
YVONNA WRIGHT: Right. When I travel, I take the DVD player, but the kids are a lot more interested in drawing. Sometimes, before we travel I’ll go to the Dollar Store and get little things they can open. When it’s new, it occupies them much longer than taking an old toy from home.
TMOM: Your family is in California and you’ve traveled quite a bit back and forth to California. How about vacation?
YVONNA WRIGHT: This summer we went to California and St. Kitts. We got married there. We have some family there. It’s one of my homes. I think I started going there when I was 2 years old.
TMOM: Isn’t it great to introduce your kids to a different culture?
YVONNA WRIGHT: Right. I love taking them into different areas. But they are like, “Everything is so slow here.” And I explain that this is what other cultures are about. I love they are learning it at such an early age.
TMOM: What’s the most exotic place you have traveled for a family vacation?
YVONNA WRIGHT: A couple of years ago I took them to Poland to visit my grandmother. Poland has changed so much. Back in the 80’s, you couldn’t get much of what you wanted. Now the grocery stores are bigger than Costco. In St. Kitts, on the other hand, we stayed where my other grandmother lived, so they had to deal with the flies and the sand and the dirt. It’s black sand, not white sand, but you know they grow once they experience this so I love doing it. I will always do it.
TMOM: Did your husband go with you on the trips?
YVONNA WRIGHT: He met us in St. Kitts, but he didn’t go to Poland because he would have to take too much time off work. My schedule is so much more open. I’m able to travel anywhere, but it means I have to go by myself.
TMOM: Do you and your husband travel without your kids?
YVONNA WRIGHT: Yes, I dropped my kids off in California and they stayed for two weeks with my mother while my husband and I flew to Costa Rica and Miami.
TMOM: If someone said ‘I’m going to give you a plane ticket and the time off and all the stars are aligned,’ where would you want to go?
YVONNA WRIGHT: St. Martin. My kids love it so much. It is just beautiful and has amazing beaches with beautiful water and white sand. You can actually find beaches that have no waves whatsoever, so you don’t have to worry about the kids playing and sailing out into the sea.
TMOM: Have you ever had a bad experience on a plane?
YVONNA WRIGHT: I was traveling to St. Kitts this last summer and Marley was opening and closing that little table. We hadn’t even taken off yet and the lady in front of her stands up, looks at me and says, “Ughhuhhhhhhhh.” So I said, “Excuse me, do you have something to say?” And she said, “She’s opening and closing the tray table.” I said, “This is going to be a very long flight and I can either have your cooperation or not have your cooperation. This could be a hard flight for you and I don’t want to have to go off on you this early.”
My kids are really good on flights and I hate that people roll their eyes when they us get on the plane. I think that as parents when we’re not traveling with kids that it’s very important to support other parents who are traveling with kids because it can be very difficult.
TMOM: Any good vomit stories?
YVONNA WRIGHT: Oh, no, thank God. But, I have one great diarrhea story. It was an overnight flight from California. Lola was probably 2 ½, so Marley was barely 1. We were settled in for the night. All of the sudden, Lola started screaming. She’s in her car seat and I have the baby in my lap and I smell it. I’m like “Oh, no, please no.” Apparently she had had diarrhea when we were all sleeping, so I didn’t notice it. And she had a horrible, horrible diaper rash and she was probably sitting in it for 30 or 40 minutes. I had to take her to the bathroom with Marley and try to clean her up and it was a complete mess and she kept screaming “My booty hurts! My booty hurts!”
TMOM: A flight attendant didn’t offer to take the baby?
YVONNA WRIGHT: Yes, the flight attendant helped me because obviously my kid was disrupting the whole plane and so she offered to take Marley while I had Lola in the bathroom.
TMOM: Did you have a mantra to get yourself through it, like telling yourself, “OK, just breathe?”
YVONNA WRIGHT: My sister gave me this good advice because I would get so stressed when I’d fly with them because I wanted them to behave and not bother anyone. She said, “You know, Yvonna, you can’t worry about what other people think. That just compounds the situation. You just have to worry about your kids and what you can do to help them and not care about what other people think.” If you can control your kids, you control the situation. So I found if you just deal with them and not think about others putting you down, it is the best thing.