We’re home! All of us, all together, are lounging around the living room. I’d like to tell you we’re lovingly rehashing the trip to Europe, fondly sharing our memories and the lessons we learned.
In reality we’re too tired to get off the couch. Audrey’s being forced to practice her trombone for 80 minutes, so we’re all suffering the consequences of her procrastination for the month of September. This afternoon Caleb did hours of math homework he didn’t get finished on the way to O’Hare, and that took several years off Eric’s and my life.
Today makes the eleventh day I’ve been with my children nearly twenty-four hours a day. We’ve been shoved in the back of a Renault together. We sat next to each other for an eight-hour flight yesterday, after a two-hour drive to the Dublin airport. Then we rode home for another two and a half hours after landing.
I love my children, but I am here to tell you that I have experienced motherhood in its fullest the last eleven days. I can’t even imagine how my own mother feels– she traveled with us and it will probably take her weeks of therapy to recover.
And so help me, if that trombone makes one more honk I’m going to surely expire.
[I’m not making this up– the child just saw me roll my eyes and brought it CLOSER TO ME. She’s now playing the wretched instrument just inches from my face.]
Lord, give me strength.
BUT. We had a wonderful time. Ireland is wonderful. We saw rolling green hills dotted with grazing cattle. We climbed through medieval castles and walked historical villages. We ate wonderful food (the Irish specialize in gluten-free options!) and took our kids to all sorts of pubs.
That’s really not as alarming as it sounds. Kids are welcome in pubs in Ireland– one night the family next to us was letting their toddler greet all the new arrivals at the door. She handled her beer really well.
Just kidding. No beer for babies. Just fish and chips.
As for our traveling experiment, it was mostly successful. I think Caleb enjoyed Ireland more than he expected. He loved the castles and villages, and he thought the food there was delicious. But Audrey missed her friends so badly that I don’t know she enjoyed the trip as much as the rest of us. By Wednesday she was Facetiming with her friends as they woke up in the morning (Ireland is five hours ahead of Kalamazoo) or just as she went to bed at night.
She survived, though.
We all survived, and I’m so glad we decided to try it. I have a lot more stories to tell and thoughts to share, but my brain is fried. Throughout the week I’ll get my neurons in order and send the kids back to blessed, blessed school.
I would like to take this moment to publicly announce my fondness for the local school district and the teachers there. Bless you all.
Until then, here’s another quote about traveling with children. I think it’s true and right, even though I’m at the tail end of my eleventh solid day with my children and that dang trombone just started up again.
If I live through this practice session, I’ll write more soon. Stay tuned!
From Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist:
Sometimes people ask me why I travel so much, and specifically why we travel with Henry so often. I think they think it’s easier to keep the kids at home, in their routines, surrounded by their stuff. It is. But we travel because it’s there. Because Capri exists and Kenya exists and Tel Aviv exists, and I want to taste every bite of it. We travel because I want my kids to learn, as I learned, that there are a million ways to live, a million ways to eat, a million ways to dress and speak and view the world. I want them to know that “our way” isn’t the right way, but just one way, that children all over the world, no matter how different they seem, are just like the children in our neighborhood–they love to play, to discover, to learn. (p. 97)