The Gift of Staying Local

I love to travel, and applaud anyone who gets to take grand adventures and travel the world. I’ve made my way to most of the seven continents (perhaps I’ll hit them all some day), and there is nothing quite like getting on a plane to see the far-off destination of our dreams.

But one of the most gratifying things about parenthood for me, was that it helped me to realize that I don’t need to go to another continent, country, or even another state to explore or experience something new. There is ample room for curiosity and wonder right in our own back yard.

As our family has grown, it has become more and more cumbersome and stressful (not to mention expensive) to fly to far-off places. Even after having our first child, far away travel was much more difficult than it used to be!

When the pandemic first shut everything down, we were about to have our fourth baby and it was hard to go anywhere at all. So, we started visiting ALL the local parks regularly in order to keep our sanity, and our health. We discovered new ones, and became more cognizant of the beauty of those we had been to many times. During a scary and shocking time, it was a gift.

Lately I have been reading my youngest child Swimmy, by Leo Leoni. If you’re not familiar, Swimmy is a little fish whose school gets eaten by a big bad tuna fish. Swimmy is sad, scared, and lonely but, “the sea was full of wonderful creatures, and as he swam from marvel to marvel, Swimmy was happy again.” We all go through hard times. Grief. Loss. Anxiety. Loneliness. But the world really is full of marvels, isn’t it? If we can learn to notice them.

Children are full of wonder and everything is new to them. Seeing the world through their eyes opens up a whole new realm of possibilities, close to home. I have loved sharing memories of nearby “adventures” from my childhood with them, and discovering new things in the counties surrounding ours.

While I don’t have the freedom to travel the world that I had when I was single, I do have more desire and ability to notice and appreciate what is around me. The formerly “mundane” areas within driving distance of my hometown are brimming with stories, interesting people, and beauty. Parenthood has helped to give me the eyes to see it, and for that I am grateful.

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