Just shy of a year now and it's time at last to head home, having put 80,000-plus kilometres under our belts - thanks to 15 flights, 20 buses, 10 cars, 26 boats, seven horses, one submarine, one truck, three trains, two subways, three trams ... and seven countries.
If (or when, as some optimistically insist) I get my book published, I’ll check back in and bring you up to date. Until then, thanks so much for logging on to www.travellinmama.blogspot.com – the positive vibes have helped keep me going, for sure.
It’s been a massively good time, punctuated by just enough mini-disasters to keep us giggling years from now. On that note, I count myself lucky that the only all-out screaming match I had with my husband had to do with a parenting decision about a certain boat on a certain beach on a certain island in Malaysia – where a certain precious lifejacket-less daughter was allowed to go out frolicking in the sea with a MALE STRANGER who drove the boat for a dodgy parasailing outfit. It all turned out fine, but still. You can guess who let her go and who wasn’t there at the time to veto the decision.
I’m under no illusion that the kids will remember everything or even anything specifically about our year away but I’m counting on the subconscious to inspire them later in life. Specifically, what they saw of genuine poverty – by walking the streets of a certain town in Lesotho, say, or by giving some of their own money to a twisted dwarf beggar in Malaysia – will hopefully have provided the building blocks for empathy, as my earlier travels have done for me.
What I really hoped to do was to teach them that there’s a whole world out there beyond their small-town safety net, and I know I succeeded in that. With everything they’ve experienced and seen with their own eyes, I’ll never regret taking them out of school and enrolling them in the school of real life.
There were plenty of doubting Thomases, particularly when it came time for us to take them to Africa. In fact well-meaning folks could hardly believe we would dare take our girls there at all. To them, I would still say that going after what we want doesn’t make us bad or selfish parents. It actually makes us happier people, and therefore better parents. And as far as Africa itself is concerned, Angelina Jolie isn’t the only western mom to fall in love, completely and utterly, with the place.
What I take away from it all is the conviction that we’ve done the right thing, had an absolute ball, spent a wee bit too much of our nest egg and will return home in a few days’ time a closer family than ever.
Hopefully I’ll catch you all at the book launch in Toronto one day. Wishful thinking, indeed, but what the hell....