Nothing feels normal in this house. Tomorrow we drive to O’Hare airport and board a plane for Dublin. We’re all so excited we can’t think straight.
And by “we” I mean WE. All four of us are going, plus my mom.
As usual, Eric and I feel a little weird about this trip. We went to Italy a few years ago and got plenty of strange looks from friends when they learned of our plans. People seem to assume we’re either wealthy or we’re putting our vacation on the credit card, because international travel seems so… ostentatious… maybe. Certainly out of the range of normal middle class behavior in this community.
Eric worked really hard to find the absolute best airline ticket prices, and we’re renting a house that will cost far less than a hotel room. We’ll be buying our groceries at the local store and cooking most of our own meals, and then taking inexpensive day trips around the island.
But I know that one of those inexpensive airline tickets costs as much as the monthly rent some people can barely make, and it doesn’t sit well with me. We’ve been financially blessed; I know we’re called to share our resources with those in need. And we do. But even with generosity as a top budget item, we’ve still managed to carve out some money to take the family to Ireland.
To do so, we’ve made budget cuts in all kinds of places. Eric’s car is almost twenty years old and his driver’s side door barely works. He climbed in and out of the passenger door all summer long. We buy the bulk of our clothes at the resale shops. Our kids aren’t involved in expensive extracurricular activities like travel hockey or dance classes.
Do you know how much money you can save when your kids’ greatest interests are going to the library and hanging out with friends??
Enough to go to Ireland, frankly.
I was all bound up in all kinds of conflicting feelings this week, but Tsh Oxenreider’s book Notes From a Blue Bike settled me back down. The Oxenreiders have literally traveled around the world with their kids. (You can read all about their story here.) In her book, she says this:
Once they’ve traveled, kids have permission to question the how and why of their surroundings, because they’ve tasted and seen that other people live differently. While may not be the most comfortable way to go through life, it’s the most honest– and this honesty opens the door to making life choices that feel right in your bones. (p. 147)
This is what I want for our kids. I want them to see beyond American life, with our huge SUVs, mammoth refrigerators, and vinyl-clad houses. I want them to taste food they didn’t know existed, meet people who speak the same language with a totally different accent, and even ride in a car on the other side of the road.
I want to encourage them to think big as they make plans for the rest of their lives.
I’ll let you know how this giant experiment goes. Eric says it’s all going to be fine, or it’ll be a disaster and I’ll have fodder for the blog for a long time. Either way, we all win! I’ll be posting from Ireland as much as the wi-fi allows, but since I’ll be blogging from my smart camera you should count on lots of pictures and not so many words.
In the mean time, I have a million things to do and not enough brain cells to get them all done. I’ll get back to you soon!