It's after 9pm here and normally I would be a sleepy mess by now, struggling to keep my eyes open as I put the baby to bed. Instead, I'm perched on the edge of the loft, the baby sleeping by my side and Kirk reading Harry Potter to the girls as they snuggle on the dinette bed. We are here in this moment, but someday this will all be just a memory.
At breakfast this morning, the girls asked me to tell stories, giggling as I recounted how we decorated our first apartment with hand me down furniture and my own terribly painted canvases, so we could have some "art" for the walls. We shared with them how we rode horses into the rain forest in Costa Rica on our honeymoon and how shocked we were when baby C stood on a toddler chair like it was a surfboard after having just learned to crawl.
Next week our baby turns one and our oldest is seven; somewhere in the dash between those years we became weary parents just going through the motions. Somehow, leaving the known behind to seek a life on the road seemed like the answer.
So we sought travel like a thirsty person clamors for water. We are drinking from a free-flowing stream of new experiences, and it is in this moment that I can reflect on what was and perhaps what is to come.
When I first became a mother, I had IDEAS on how we would raise our kids, what we would feed them, where and how we would live. So much has changed since my oldest was placed in my arms, and I became a mother. They say every seven years your body completely regenerates, down to your taste buds. We are regenerating and growing into who we will be in the next seven years. Who and what we will be is such a mystery!
It's easier to keep your head down, to keep on the same path and not ask questions. It's less exhausting to go with the flow than to fight the current. But here we are, seeking the next part of our journey as a family.
I am not a parenting expert and sometimes I don't even feel like a natural at mothering. But I wake each day with this desire to do better and to somehow hang onto these moments of child raising before they sift through my fingers like grains of sand. Through the difficult and the joyous, time continues on and so do I.
What have I really learned from travel? Perhaps that I know much less about parenting than I ever thought, and I also love it more than I could ever imagine. I've learned that slowing down makes it easier to enjoy little moments with my three and that I am capable of being the mother they need. Travel has given me permission to simply BE with my children and step off a never-ending treadmill. Regardless of where our lives go next, we needed permission to slow down and be stretched together in this way.
I've learned that HOME is such an abstract concept and that being with my kids and Kirk provides that feeling. That my girls need a little bit of freedom, plenty of boundaries, and endless love and forgiveness. Most importantly, I've learned to forgive myself and to remember that each day is a fresh start. I'm waking up each day, asking myself: what will it take to have a great day with the kids?
I spoke with my grandmother today, on her 88th birthday, the phone crackling with our distance in miles and across the years. As we wrapped up our conversation, she said, " Katie, keep living a good life like you are." I felt those words like a lightning bolt to my core. Yes, these days are long, the years are short, and I'm trying to live a damn good life, Grandma, I truly am.
How has travel shaped you?