Yesterday we said goodbye to our much adored cottage near the sea and turned our rental car northward.
While five days on Dingle Peninsula was a much needed stop for us all – a chance to get to know a place better and catch our breath for a spell – I was ready to hit the road again and explore more of this breathtaking country. The kids, I'm fairly certain, could have spent the rest of the month there, just playing together in the sea.
For two midwesterners they do adore the ocean. (Sage in particular.)
Now that we managed to pull them away from the beach, we have begun working our way up the western coast for the final half our of our journey. I'm eager for what we'll see next, am free of expectations, and happy for our many unexpected detours.
This is our first extended road trip as a complete family. Though I've done several month-long trips with my kids without Pete, this time it's the four of us. And in so many ways this journey is different from any we've had before. Sure, we're in a different country (that's new!) but it's much more than that. It's that I have a team. I'm not the only adult at the helm.
And I'm so grateful to have him here with us. In part for the luxury of time together that this trip has afforded us (without the distraction of our ever present to-do list), and also for the groove we can hit with all of us along for the ride.
And so our family – and Pete and I – are a team in all things: navigation, dispute resolution, meals, decision-making. The last couple of nights the kids and I have cooked dinner together while Pete reads aloud to us from our book, and it's such a lovely way to settle and the end of a day that's been full and overstimulating for the introverts among us (ahem).
As with all aspects of life – of course – there have been bumps in the journey. (We're a family, after all, and it's not perfect harmony at every turn.) But overall we're gelling here on the road, enjoying one another's company, and delighting in this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, together.
As with every extended trip we've taken as a family – whether across the country in a VW Beetle or to the cabin up north for a week now and then, the sibling dynamics of being on the road (and having only one another to turn to) fascinate me.
Because I have found – in life and in homeschooling in particular – that the more time they have together the more vital it becomes that they smooth out the burrs in their relationship. They have to figure it out, or choose to be miserable.
And on account of that necessity, they rise to the challenge. They work on improving their communication, patience, compassion, and – yes – even their ability to find joy in simply being together. Sure, they may push each other's buttons more on a trip away from home than ever (and often on purpose), but they also enjoy their deep friendship more than ever as well.
I suppose travel challenges us in just that way. It brings our our worst and makes us dig deep to find our best.
And perhaps that's one of the finest rewards of setting out on the road… together.
More soon, my friends!