The children are gone for 5 weeks, and there is a question of whether this is something to dread or something to enjoy. Now that it’s happened and the choice is gone, enjoying it is easy!

We are busy in our life with kids around. There is always laundry and homework and never enough milk, but in other ways they force us to slow down. There is mindfulness in skipping rocks and practicing the violin, and feeling the joy of chocolate-filled doughnuts. Children notice grasshoppers and play with the cat, and stop in the woods to throw pine cones. A plate of cinnamon rolls is enough to shift the Sunday Blues, and dinner doesn’t ever have to be better than just a pizza. Even though on some days it feels never-ending, there is simplicity that makes us grounded.

Now that they’re gone, we feel pressured to take 16 mile hikes and paint bedrooms, and have deep discussions about politics and art. We exhaust ourselves with analyzing news and human psychology, and suddenly feel responsible for the weight of the world. Is this better? It felt like a betrayal to go to Italy without them, but in this state of mind, how else could we survive 5 weeks on our own? We missed them of course, but it was nice to do what we wanted without any negotiations, or fear of embarrassing someone.

Mike got tickets for us to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper during our stopover in Milan. I’m sure the kids will appreciate Italian Masterpieces later in life, but since churches and art are boring for them now, maybe it’s just as well we were on our own. When it’s just the two of us, nobody is hungry or tired or bored, and there is time to linger in sanctuaries, feeling the prayers of centuries mingling over our heads.

Sometimes vacations are not vacations when we’re constantly (and patiently) educating our kids, but we have to admit, there is some truth to their observation that “churches all look pretty much the same….”

Although I thought the Duomo in Milan was beautiful!

Because I have boys, my lens on foreign cities now focuses on trains and the cars people drive, and I’ve been trained to download apps that rent scooters. I know Milan is famous for fashion and art, but there are also some nice cars driving around. I’ve also been trained to think statues like this are super funny!

Next time, we will bring the kids. This time, I’m glad it was just us, Milano, and Aperol.