First of all let me say that I started this post before our trip ended and now we have been home two months and I still haven’t posted it. I wish I could say that it’s because we are still in the travel bubble and that we are taking time to process the whole experience. Or maybe it’s because I have been organizing the thousands of pictures from the trip. Or maybe it’s even that we are spending time with family and easing into reentry. (Okay, we did do that when we first arrived home and it was great). But now we are back in San Francisco and back in the game. It’s crazy and hectic and I feel like there is no time to do anything. Boxes are still sitting here ready to be unpacked and pictures are still in iPhoto ready to be organized into a keepsake book, but life is going on around me at a rapid pace and I’m just trying to keep up and keep my head above water. That’s the ugly truth.
So, if I have to answer the question I posed at the beginning of the blog, “Did it have to end?” I wish I could answer with a definitive, “No!” We still have so many places we haven’t seen, countries and continents left to explore. Plus, now that I know what was waiting for me back at home, I did not miss the daily grind that comes with 3 kids. Of course we missed our friends and family, but I did not miss getting kids to school on time, packing lunches each day and homework!!! When did homework take so much time? When did it become about the only thing my kids can do after school because it takes so long? I’m missing the care free days that allowed my kids to be kids. And I didn’t miss the traffic – I think it is a lot worse after only a year! I am definitely having a hard time getting back into the routine. I think we all are. The girls are happy to be back at school for certain reasons, but I think they are also realizing what an amazing experience we had and what a good life we had on the road.
What will I miss?
The unknown – Waking up each day in a new place and exploring. Will we goto a museum? Hang out in the neighborhood? Live life like a local?
Public transportation – metro, train, bus, tram, doesn’t really matter. There is an ease in train travel that I love and wish it was a bit better in the US. I would love to take the girls on the train to see my brother in Sacramento, but by the time I take BART to the Amtrak train station, an hour and a half has turned to over two and half hours, I may as well drive. I wish BART would connect to the train station – would make so much more sense. I only drove 1 day in the 11 months we were gone, so getting behind the wheel of “Sally,” was a little weird. And yes, our car has a name 🙂 But I’m back to it since I don’t really have a choice.
School of the World – Teaching the kids on the road might not have always been a pencil to paper activity or even something we would have classified as “school.” But what we experienced each day was so much more than they can ever get in a classroom. Here they are just learning to do school, how to manage time and people. Out there they were seeing different cultures, hearing different languages, looking at art and architecture, learning about themselves in different environments. An amazing experience for sure.
I don’t regret that we did this at all. I am thankful that Dave came home that day in February saying this was the time to do it. I am thankful that we were able to manage it. We had 11 months of time together as a family. And yes, there were tough some days where we would have thrown in the towel. I was talking to someone while we were in Switzerland and said we always have our daily dose of drama – that comes with 3 girls and it drives me crazy, but now that we are home and school has started and sports have started, our time together is limited. Claire will be a teenager soon where friends will become more important than her parents and we will never get her back. So the time we had together is invaluable to me. I got to know each of my girls in a way that I may never have.
I think the best thing about this trip is what it has taught my girls. It’s okay to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Traveling to foreign countries isn’t easy. Well it is if you go 5 star all the way and stick to resorts, but if you want to get to know the people and the places you are visiting, get out there. Get out into the real world. Ride the public transportation, shop at the local markets, meet the people. I think the girls have a great grasp on travel now. They can maneuver their own luggage on and off trains. They know how to look at train, plane and metro schedules, how to read a metro map. They can ask for help if they need it. They know to try to speak a language even if you don’t know it. They know how to pack light. They know what’s out there besides their own backyard. They know that while people might look different or speak another language, dress differently, eat differently, the majority of people are eager to talk with you, help you and hear your story.
I wish we could pack up and head to another part of the world right now just to keep our family together with no interruptions and no homework and continue the journey. For now I will take the memories that we have. Dave is reading his journal every so often to remind us of where we were and what we were doing this time last year. We talk about it a lot and try to keep the memories alive. And eventually those pictures will get into an amazing book that we can look back on. Some might even get framed and find their way onto the shelves. For now, we will take what we learned and make our way here at home in San Francisco.
Traveling is to the mind, what love it to the heart and education is to life…..truly enriching
Still to come: Our favorite places