We've now been back home for a week. Recently I had lunch with my mother (Hi, Mom!), and she asked, "was the trip the right decision?" My answer was an unhesitating "Yes."
Before we left I had my doubts. I was worried that we were planning to spend 2 months together in a small house, without any organized child care or backup in the form of friends or activities for the kids. I could see myself in a newspaper headline: "Mother of Two Goes Berserk", you know the sort of thing.
As it turned out, we got along pretty well. It was a welcome chance for all of us to have the pressures of school lifted. I was able to stop fretting about Younger Daughter as a problem to be fixed, and see her for who she is. She's a bright, athletic kid with an active, thoughtful mind. She's not verbally precocious in the way that schools reward, but she can certainly express herself, as in: "I know I'm supposed to think about God, but I mostly think about feeding the ducks."
Before we left, I was planning to work hard with Younger Daughter to make up for the subjects she had not learned at school. But it was such a struggle to get her to read every day that we wound up reading maybe once or twice a week, and I wonder whether it's worth the fight. What she gains in reading ability she loses in the desire to read. Now I'm inclined to just give her the rest of the summer off, and let her next school deal with her reading in the fall.
For Older Daughter, the absence of school meant she could catch up on her sleep. She missed her friends, but she was able to chat with them through texting and Skype.
A friend asked me, "What was your favorite part of the trip?" For me, it was the chance to be in a new environment, far away from the preoccupations of our usual life.