So, now I’ve written loads about our experience in Italy, we have been home for as long as we were there and, as such, I have done a lot of reflecting on our experience. I’m ready now to figure out: was it all worth it?
The short answer is an emphatic yes.
It was so worth it. It was worth the exhaustion, the expense (which was something I really fretted over), and the weeks without Todd.
Would I travel alone with Margot again?
Well, yes. I would. I mean, here’s the thing with having an only child (a topic I plan to write more about in the future): this experience of travelling alone with her is the worst it would ever be. As she gets older, she will be better equipped to handle herself and I will be better prepared for the challenges that may arise. This trip was hard, but it was also wonderful and magical. So, if we were ever again presented the opportunity to travel somewhere and Todd was not able to join us, I would not hesitate for a moment to say yes. Because we have been through the worst and it wasn’t that bad.
Of course I am not so naive to think that things could not still go wrong with an older child, but I feel so much better equipped to handle anything, now. That last hour on the airplane flying home was probably the most difficult hour of my parenting career. And, I did it. I made it through. I didn’t really have any other choice, did I? What could I have actually done other than just… get through that awful hour of parenting?
And, when we got to the other side of that hour, and to the other side of those two intense weeks, Margot and I are even closer and better equipped to handle each other and whatever else the universe throws at us than before.
I could look back at this trip and remember the bad times. Like Margot screaming “You’re not a good mommy” at me in front of a church. Or, me screaming back, “I can’t do this anymore.” Or I could remember the last day of our trip when we set out just the two of us and had a wildly good time just being together and eating an ungodly amount of french fries and exploring the world at our own pace. When recalling those two memories, the screaming makes me cringe just a bit, but it’s the other memory that brings tears to my eyes and causes the corners of my mouth to turn up. That’s the part I will think about forever.
I am not a perfect parent. And being the only parent to Margot for two weeks helped to make that fact even more apparent. But, it also showed me that I’m not an altogether terrible parent, either. I have reserves of patience and kindness that I didn’t know were there. I have ways of communicating with my child and relating to her that are based on the years of time we have spent with each other and that other people may never understand and will never be able to replicate. I am the best parent that I can be. I try really hard, and sometimes I get frustrated and overwhelmed and I do things that I will later regret. But, I am the best that I can be. And my best is pretty damn amazing. And I think that Margot thinks so, too.
So, yes. It was worth it for the amazing opportunity to see Italy. But, it was also worth it for the opportunity to explore myself and my relationship with Margot. And it was worth it for the time we spent with our friends. And for the time Margot got to spend with Will, which is a relationship I probably could write another entire post about, but, alas, I promised this would be my last about Italy. And it was worth it for the time I got to spend with Katie, time we spent talking (possibly too much) about our children and our job as their parents, and contemplating the life story of Roberto the gelato man, and having real, grown-up conversations about interesting topics. And it was worth remembering how much we love Todd, because absence (as it has been stated so many times before) does make the heart grow fonder.
But. For all my emphatic “yes”ing to the question of would I do it again… The next trip we take will be with Todd. Without a doubt.