Inevitably, when people learn that we have been traveling since 2013 with three kids, the first question is either, “What about school?” or “What about your family?”
I have been thinking a great deal about family these days as my parents just left New Zealand after visiting for a month. We are also preparing to leave this week after visiting my sister and her family for the past several months. These events inspired me to reflect on family, and the role it has played in our journey …
- Prior to leaving for Europe, we flew to Disneyland with my parents for 10 days. We had been dreaming about such a trip since having kids, but could never make the time or money to actually go.
- Our family heritage was the impetus for this entire adventure. When we learned that we could apply for Italian Citizenship, giving our children citizenship to every country in the European Union in addition to the US, we knew we had to go for it.
- We then flew over 3,000 miles to Connecticut and spent just over two weeks with my husband’s family, making big family dinners and watching the Yankees play baseball. It was a luxurious amount of time compared to the usually short, cross country, Thanksgiving trip we took more than once with toddlers!
- During the two years we spent in Europe, we not only received our Italian passports, but we traveled to family heritage sites. Our trips to Foggia and Rimini, Italy gave us an understanding of the Mariotti family roots that are now a part of us.
- Standing on the docks in Cobh, Ireland imagining my grandmother’s family boarding the ships to America still gives me the chills. Watching a fisherman in Sweden, that looked just like my dad, was life-changing. I stood for hours thinking my mind was playing tricks on me, as I learned for the first time, that culture is within us no matter how far we travel from where we begin – even if generations go by.
- We have spent every day of the past 1,100 days together as a couple and the same number of days together with our children.
- We then flew 12 hours back across the Atlantic to see Ron’s family again and spent six weeks during the New England springtime, every day, three meals a day, together.
- Then, we drove 4,000 miles across the USA, stopping to stay with my cousin and his family in Chicago for two weeks and visit my older sister’s youngest son. We reached my hometown of Seattle just in time for summer and visited family for another eight weeks.
- From Seattle, we flew via Hawaii to New Zealand on a 30 hour journey, hopping hemispheres, not to just meet my younger sister’s first baby, but to spend time getting to know him and his family. After five months celebrating holidays, birthdays, and the everyday joys of toddler life, we are heading to Australia.
Given the one or two weeks of vacation we took a year, we have calculated that in our life before this journey, it would have taken us 18 years to spend that kind of quality time with family.
We haven’t made it to every family event, but we have made it almost all the way around the world, investing time we didn’t know we had prior to leaving on this ramble. Getting to really know and understand our family has been a life-changing experience.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. – Rumi
Valuing family looks different for everyone because every family has a unique story. I guess, in many ways, this journey has been all about family and it is still unfolding. What is your family’s story?