Saturday, July 20, 2013

'Once in a Lifetime'

Not always an uplifting phrase.

You know how when you're a teenager and you're not a parent but you're completely sure that someday in a million years or so when you are, you'll do a much better job than yours did?

Well, now I'm the parent. And even though I was thee worst 17 year old in the world, (I mean, I guess I didn't get knocked up, arrested, or married to my high school sweetheart at the tender age of 17, so it could have been worse) I got to go to Ireland and France with my entire family + a couple of dear family friends, and I spent my precious first experience abroad bored, drunk, and generally terribly unhelpful for the entire 13 day ordeal.

Meanwhile, my saintly parents had taken 7 kids on a transatlantic misadventure and had one very, very colicky 20 month old in tow who was absolutely insistent that no-one-but-mommy, not even my father, push his stroller. If he craned his fat little neck to look back and saw anyone but mi madre at the wheel...banshee screams.

I thought about my parents a lot this past 5 days whilst we optimistically traipsed up and down the endless and multitudinous staircases of Amalfi and Atrani, Italia, dragging an umbrella stroller, 2 angry and feverish toddlers, and a big-ass overpacked metal clad suitcase (I'm really sorry, honey) because oh hell, I didn't know we were going to have a washing machine.

And then yesterday morning, blinking blearily at each other over really, really good cappuccinos in the lobby of our emergency-booked (and priced accordingly) hotel, we had the good sense and the very blessed convenience of being able to pull the trigger and say 'enough.' So we went home. 3 days early. From paradise. Because our kids were sick, nobody was getting any sleep, and because we got enough beautiful pictures to prove we were there, and isn't that good enough for this stage of family life?

And now, lying in my air-conditioned Roman apartment and savoring the not-noises of 2 toddlers napping in separate rooms and listening to the traffic go by in the street below, I think this is the best vacation ever.

We had some amazing experiences, swam in the clearest blue water I've ever seen, and ate some delicious calamari that can never hope to be replicated more than 1 mile from the seaside. But mostly we checked temperatures, administered ibuprofen, broke up fights, yelled at bedtimes, and collapsed exhausted into puddles of heat at the end of the day. In other words, it was business as usual.

I don't know why I'm providing all this background except to say, look, being a parent is awesome and gratifying beyond belief and is truly the noblest calling ... and it's also awful a lot of the time. Even in exotic locales. Maybe even more so, given the heightened expectations?

Don't get me wrong, it was an amazing trip born of good timing, an available house-swap, and built up vacation hours, and I'm insanely grateful we took it. But I'm also offering the following photographic evidence with the disclaimer that 'items in photos make appear shinier/more appealing than in reality.'

Ain't that always the truth?

So we broke up fights,

Posed for pretty pictures,
Marveled at the charm,

counted castles,

Persuaded angry babies to stay onboard ferries,

encouraged lots of independent motor skills,

breathed relieved sighs in moments of peace,

and tranquility,

and idyllic views,

and got lots and lots of exercise.

Bribes were offered,

Church steps were ascended,

coffee and gelato were consumed,
and we all lived to tell the tale.
Looking more or less,
like the crass American tourists

That we are.


  1. So sorry Jenny! Sick kids is the worst.

  2. I can totally relate to this! My husband and I had the once in a lifetime chance to go on an all expenses paid trip to Rome one summer. We had two small children (23 months & 3 months). It was absolute bliss while the kids had jet lag - they slept all day while we saw the sites, and our toddler watched Dora all night while we slept. We ended up having to decide between going to Assisi or coming back to the USA. We did the responsible parent thing and came home four days early, but boy was it hard! Your pictures are beautiful and your boys are as cute as can be!

  3. Motherhood is really all about having a sufficient supply of lollipops... :-)

  4. I feel ya Jenny! One of my most fervent parenting principles is "never spend money on a vacation with toddlers". but obviously I'm a total stick in the mud, so I think you did great! And the pictures are spectacular and you and Dave look awesome! We always look harried and exhausted in any pictures where we go more than twenty minutes from home with our kids!

  5. Evie kept pointing to Joey and saying, "Mikey?" in these photos. :)
    Man, that city looks beautiful but I can't imagine managing all those steps or the ferry ride with kids! Hope your little guys are feeling better!

  6. Love. THIS!!! Especially the wise choice to say, "we're done". brilliant, we all need to do that more often!

  7. It's true, sometimes home is the best vacation! Most of the time, we prefer to stay at home to rest instead of making the effort to go somewhere :)


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