“Deciding to not travel with your children while they are young ‘because they won’t remember’ is a little like saying you’re not going to read to your children because they won’t remember the books you read. You read to your small children because of the sounds they will hear, the words they will see, the skills they will acquire and the habits you hope they will form. Traveling with young children is very much the same.”
This morning, out of the blue, in our jammies and while I was nursing Summer, Rowdy plopped next to me on the couch and said "Hey mom, [he always starts queries with 'Hey mom?'] do you remember that time we went to It-tal-ee and climbed all over those giant cliffs?" Ugh. My heart had that feeling your bum-cheeks and thighs do when the seat warmer is turned on in a "nice" car. He remembered.
A poignant moment for us as parents was Rowdy's memory of building a deck with Caleb. They worked on it before he turned 2... I think he was about 22 months old. It was a Mother's Day gift for me and it was the first time Caleb really let Roo stay at the job site and "help" for hours. Rowdy carried around a real drill and tapped boards and squatted like he was taking measurements. I was so happy to see it get done! And... that was about it. After that we traveled a lot, came back for a few months, traveled again, and have been bopping around since. And we never had ANY reason to talk about the partial-finished deck in the woods in Oklahoma. But one day over a year later on our drive back to Maryland from San Diego, Rowdy mentioned it. He was in his carseat in the back of the van: "Hey mom? I loved making that deck with dad." Caleb and I both did a double take (er, double listen?) "What deck?" "That one at our white house in Oka-la-homa! I was drillin'!"
I firmly believe that the love, prayers, tone, and care a person experiences even in the womb begins to shape them. And the years they "don't remember" are a part of them even so. Then, the craziest thing, is that somewhere along the way... they do start to remember. It starts to stick to their refrigerator-door-heart so they can hold it up and post it and communicate about it. "I loved this memory, mom!" Caleb and I talk often about how funny it is that some days become the core-memory days for a person. What will those memories be for our kids?
One of my strongest childhood memories is walking to Flower Hill Pool with my mom and siblings and, on this occasion, my grandma was with us. Pool bags filled with damp pool things, towels (some pool and some bathroom), the sounds of cheap, rubber flip flops shuffling and flipping and the feel of black barefeet on concrete, the pointyness of crisp, dry grass too. The bells of the ice truck up ahead and the muffled tune of shrill whistles, a cla-clunk diving board, and splashing. The humd east-coast sauna air. Bacca was wearing her Birkenstocks and laughing about how they are out of style now, and she didn't care, and she said "They'll come back in in another 20 years. I'll just hang on to them!" When she died a few years later my mom ended up with her Birkenstocks. And they sit, to this day, in my mom's closet (that we still have not gone through and emptied). Weird. Random. Un-notable really! But always an GIANT piece of art on the mind fridge.
Roo's happy reflection this morning prompted me to blog about the day we did hike all over the cliffs! We had planned to go to Lake Como and Milan but very last minute (like, approaching the exit for La Spezia to take the train to Cinque Terre saying "What should we do??" "I don't know! What do you think!" "Let's just do it?" "You want to?" "Yes! Do you?" "Ugh yes just do it I don't know yes go go go!"). We had a three hour drive a head of us to get to Milan, and four to get to Lake Como. We had intentionally made this day a "feel it out" day so we could decide if we wanted to go harder or slower.
My gut was telling me that we shouldn't spend 3-4 more hours in the car. I, personally, wanted to see Milan and Lake Como more than stop in Cinque Terre, but sometimes you just get a sense that you're "supposed" to do something. I think I just knew the kids would have a better day getting out of the car now and going a little slower today. So, we did! And it really was Rowdy's favorite and happiest day of the trip. We rode the train to Vernazza (he was SURE we were riding Gordon), hiked the cliffs, ate so many Italian treats, took a boat ride, threw rocks in the water, and had nothing to do but wander and relax until our 9 pm train back to La Spezia. Spending the whole day on our feet, in the sun, in nature, in charm... it was so good for all of us. Then, to end the night, we ate at the "famous" Belforte Ristorante... a place truly build right on the cliffs and over the water! It was our favorite food of the whole trip. Really.
Sweet girl loved the feel of the wind and mist on her face. A moment I'll always remember.
Rowdy took this of me at dinner... it's not in focus, but I love it. The wine almost gone, the toys at the table, the beautiful surroundings, the cheap H&M hat Caleb and I kept sharing, the ergo slung over the chair next to me, how happy I felt in that moment.
Let's do it again, guys? ;)