I’ve been a little quiet on this blog for a few weeks because I was doing a little international traveling with my daughters and mother. I thought I might try to try to post while I was away, but did not get a good chance (or maybe I did not make a good effort). Anyway, I thought I would write a little about my perspective on traveling and about this particular trip.
My grandmother (BJ) took me on my first trip overseas, to London, England, when I was 8 years old. I knew that most children my age had never been out of the country—for that matter, most adults hadn’t either. I remember the excitement of a new a different place—learning new words and ways, figuring out that there were places very different from my home and my realities. On that trip, we walked through Hyde Park, saw castles and the Crown Jewels, learned about British history, and marveled at the largeness and modern-ness of a city.
That trip spurred my love of travel—of visiting new places. But, it also came passed down from my family. My mother loves to travel (she is still in Europe until mid-August). My dad was an adventurer who loved to seek out beaches and mountains all over the country. My step-dad, though he claimed to dislike travel, spent most of his career in the US Coast Guard, and later as a contractor for the Navy, traveling the world. I grew up hearing his stories of places he visited and lived and receiving postcards from various ports-of-call. My paternal grandparents traveled extensively, and my maternal grandparents valued seeing new places, though they did not travel as much. Even my grandmother’s grandmother (who our Evva is named after) spent a few years traveling around the world with her young daughter in the early 1900s—unusual for a woman at that time.
All this to say, for most of my life I have valued and enjoyed traveling. But, something changed when I had children. I still value traveling, but I do not enjoy it as much—especially if I have to do it with children by myself. With William (and the children), travel can still be fun and a great family time. But my anxiety level has increased (more could go wrong, more depends on me, etc.), and the thought of traveling for a long time with little children can sometimes be dreadful! Though, reality is not usually as bad as the worry. I also value a homeplace more than before children and it can be hard to leave it. Most of our children are older now and travel is becoming easier—long car trips or flights are not dreaded as much, and can be enjoyable, leaving home is only for a short time.
Almost 2 weeks ago, I left the boys and William for 11 days to fly to Paris and meet my mother and our 2 girls. My aunt, cousin, and her 2 girls were also with us. We spent a few nights in Paris, 4 nights in Normandy, and 4 nights outside of London. There were a few difficulties with the trip (as with any trip), mainly leaving my little boys at home for so long (I’ve never been away from any of my children for so long). But, the benefits of the trip were great. The girls saw and learned a tremendous amount from the experience, from impressionist artist to geography to Tudor history of England. They met their British cousins, learned a few French words, and marveled at Monet’s gardens. I hope they have also started learning the fun, adventure, and benefit of travel. It is easy to not go to the expense and trouble of traveling. It is easy to stay at home, but there is something missing if we did not get away from our known and comfortable place sometimes. An understanding of the world beyond ourselves.
And, so on to the trip.
All of our time in France was spent with my aunt, cousin, and her girls. Paris was full and fun—highlighted by a visit to Saint Chappell, Muse L’Orangerie to see Monet’s Waterlilies, and a children’s tour of the Louvre. We drove up to Normandy D-Day beaches where my grandfather came ashore in August 1944. It was moving to see the beaches, but as with attending church with children, you loose something of the experience when you have to keep asking the children not to roll around on the ground, stop kicking each other, or quit playing tag (in the cemetery). The girls loved the beaches, though, and waded right into the water, promptly soaking their lower halves in the cold English Channel.
We stayed in a farmhouse outside of Lourvies which was a perfect, making us realize that while the big city is great to visit we enjoy the countryside much more. We went to a really wonderful market one morning, visited a distant cousin and her children at their beautiful old house, ate great food, walked around a ruined castle built by Richard the Lionheart, and spent a few hours in Giverny.
In London, William’s aunt and uncle hosted us with great hospitality. We went to London one day to visit the Tower of London (Crown Jewels, armory – it was great). Another day had a big family BBQ where Anne and Evva got to meet cousins and play. They have 3 girl cousins very close to their age, so it was fun. Visiting with family and relaxing were the main activities and it was wonderful.
Traveling makes homecoming sweeter and now we will take our experiences (and our dirty laundry) and embrace the work and activities that make up our life.