Three months ago while I was in the middle of preparing dinner my husband called from work and told me that he had been laid off. You’d think in this economy I wouldn’t have been surprised, but the mass lay offs at his company had come in January and he had survived, so come April, and the brand new fiscal year, we thought he was in the clear. As I slowly recovered from the initial urge to throw up he told me that his company had a very generous severance planned for him, as well as a three month “transition” time before he would be officially unemployed. In other words, he lost his job but he was being given the gift of time. At that point one thing was clear to me, we were going to get the hell out of here come June 30th and plan a trip – a long far away family summer trip.
It probably sounds ridiculous that in the midst of financial uncertainty my reaction was to plan a major vacation, but there is one thing I’ve realized in the all of the career ups and downs we’ve been through and that’s that money comes and goes but time only goes by. We’ve been through this before (pre-kids) when the dot com bubble burst and the company went bankrupt after working 80 hour weeks, including sleeping overnight at the office. We took off for Japan and Thailand to recharge and get some perspective. In 2001 we actually won a trip to China, but we were never able to take it first because of September 11th and then because my twin pregnancy was deemed too high risk for long flight travel. We were officially grounded.
So now its been seven years since my daughters were born. For the first 4 years we never went anywhere without them, and never for more than a week staying with family. Fun, holiday vacations for sure but the kind of trips that work and school allow. For the past two years my husband and I have gone away together for four days once a year. The kind of trip that grandparent babysitting will allow. So this chance, this opportunity to have an entire month if we wanted to take our girls and show them something of the world that their imaginations had yet to uncover seemed too priceless to pass up. And things began to fall into place – camp refunded our money, extended family generously gave us a place to stay in Italy, we were able to use miles for one of our tickets.
When we told our daughters that this is what we were going to do – go to Italy for the month of July and explore the country, their first reaction was “What about camp? We can’t miss color war!!!” Guess what, we told them, camp will still be there. The ability to have a whole month off to travel? Well that may never come around again. I don’t think they entirely get it yet, but they’ve been studying their Italian picture dictionary and reading Magic Treehouse books about Italy and starting to get excited because everyone around them is so excited for them.
And maybe its the fact that my girls are seven now that made this trip even more appealing. Soon enough they’ll be going to sleep away camp and not wanting anything to do with us. And they will have a way bigger say in how they want to spend their own time. For now, time is a shared family expense, and if they can see the value in using that time to the fullest then I will at least feel like we provided for them in a less tangible but more meaningful way. At the very least they’ll learn that when life gives you lemons you should make limoncello (or in their case some sorbetto limon)!
This post originally appeared at nycmomsblog