Learning From Memory

Le Havre, France.  Not a town most people would know or remember.  Probably it's only claim to fame is being a logistically decent place for cruise ships to stop and send their passengers off for day tours of Omaha Beach and other noteworthy WWII sites.  Give me a few paragraphs, though, to convince you of it's redeeming property.

Travel back in time with me to April 2008.  My husband and I, with our 1-yr-old son B, set off on a celebratory tour of the continent of Europe.  My husband had finally finished his bachelor's degree so we packed our bags, got on a plane, and flew away!  Not until we were halfway across the Atlantic Ocean did we realize we'd left behind an important piece of equipment.

This is B:

No, he isn't what we left behind. But, at age one, you can imagine that B was an incredibly mobile child-not yet walking, but more than willing to get himself somewhere in a high-speed crawl.  Even at his best, however, we could hardly expect him to make do on his own for 6 weeks of budget traveling.

Figured out what the missing equipment was yet?  We'd left our backpack carrier in the car at home.  All of a sudden the idea of carrying a squirming, wiggly baby in our arms for hours and hours and days and days seemed daunting.  It was the first time we'd considered that traveling with a child might not be fun.

Enter Le Havre.  We happened to be there at the beginning of our journey and an angel of a tourism official directed us to a second-hand store where we might be able to find redemption.  She seemed ashamed not to be able to send us to a fancy department store.  We gave prayers of gratitude that our first unexpected purchase with euros might not break the bank.

This is the store:

Neither my husband nor I speak French and the shopkeeper of this adorable store knew very little English.  After a lot of pointing at B and then at our backs, we found ourselves following this nice lady out of her store and up three flights of stairs next door.  She unlocked a door and offered up her entire store room for us to find what we were looking for.  We were inundated with choices and she let us try on everyone.  Grateful and overwhelmed we finally settled on the pack we liked and hoped we had enough money in our pockets.  Truth is, to this day I don't know how much we paid for that backpack carrier.  What I do know is that it was worth it's weight in gold!

This is the pack: 

Honestly, it was perfect!  B slept in it, ate in it, laughed in it, played in it.  He rode on our backs through  eight countries.  It was incredibly comfortable and I carried him on my back for six of the seven miles on the Cinque Terre Trail in Italy.  That accomplishment is still a feather in my cap!  We have searched high and low and haven't found this exact backpack anywhere.  They don't exist.  But we have one.  It's our little miracle, and we've carried P and the babies in it now as well.

Why, you're asking, am I taking you on this trip down memory lane? 

These are the lessons: 
     ~It's What We Do.  People get confused and think we're being irrational to travel with our kids, but kids travel and we wouldn't think of leaving them home.
    ~Things will most certainly not go completely as planned.  Sometimes we'll forget things and there may be setbacks and delays.  That makes journeying all the more exhilarating.
    ~I love my family.  I easily get bogged down in my day-to-day.  Life doesn't magically become perfect when I hatch a new vacation plan, pack my bags and sail away.  My husband and four cute boys are always going to be there along the way.  If I can learn to make the most of the time I have with them, they'll make sure we live life to the fullest when they're out there (wherever there may be) with me. And that is all I'm hoping for.

And lastly:

    ~Don't leave the backpack carrier in the car at home!

What are the great lessons you've learned when things weren't going perfectly?