This is a photo of me at the base of Annapurna in Nepal taken years ago. I keep it to remind myself that I really did make it up there. I never thought I would.
Ever since I left home, I've done my best to take the road less travelled. I think when we are young and childless, the road less travelled is easy and romantic. It surely was for me.
The road less travelled when you have children is no such thing. It is scary and filled with mud puddles, and laced with the possibility of major guilt down the road. Did I do the right thing? Will my children be all right?
Our move back across the Atlantic is one such road. I have already written here about how some of the most banal tasks are new to me again after being away for so long. Learning how to write checks, remembering to tip the waitress and allowing myself to turn on red are the things keeping my days far from boring. And I can officially admit right here and now that I do not miss one thing about Italy, unless you count gorgonzola. Italy was becoming an impossible place to to live and breathe. I am not looking back longingly.
So where is that lurking mud puddle? My children are soon to start school. They will both be attending the middle school, and my youngest will be starting in an early jump start program for the kids starting in the sixth grade. My children were excellent students in their Italian schools. Straight A's (tutti ottimi). For those of you who don't know what that means in the Italian school system, particularly in the middle school, it's no small feat. Their academic challenges will likely be less than they were in Italy, which is fine since my children's English is not up to par with their Italian, and they will be partaking of the English Language Acquisition program in the local middle school. One of the many reasons that pushed us to take the road less travelled was the opportunity for my children to become truly bilingual. Being thrust into a life in another language is terrifying, frustrating, comical and exhausting. It is also one of the best things that ever happened to me. Being bilingual opens up entire parts of your brain that you didn't even know were there. Being bilingual allows you to see the world through different eyes and hear the world through different ears. I want that for my children.
There is a saying in Italian that goes, "Tra il dire e il fare, c'è di mezzo il mare." Between saying something and doing it lies the sea. So here's the sea. Oh please, let this be the right thing to do! Please let their first days of school not be too scary and strange! Please let them (my eldest in particular) not be kidnapped by those evil American girls (I know exactly what I would have thought upon seeing my cute Italian boy come to school when I was in th eight grade)! Please let them be accepted on the basketball team by the American boys! Please just let it all be OK, challenging and hard at times, but OK.