My Mother Gave Me The World


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Attitude, Celebrations, Childrearing, Life Lessons, Love, Memories, Mother, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters | Posted on 12-05-2012

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I was raised primarily by my mother, who divorced my father when I was still in diapers. I was raised by a dreamer, a world traveler, a romantic.

My mother taught high school English and Social Studies. And when I was in sixth grade, she won a six-month paid sabbatical to travel to Europe. Off we went. My mother and I. To explore Europe. I left the learning-of-fractions and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and the entry-into-adolescence behind.

We were off to visit France, England, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, Belgium, and Holland. Those countries became my classroom.

Upon our arrival in London, with our eight suitcases–not joking–we were the vision of tourists gone bad. I mean, does an 11-year-old know how to pack for six months in Europe? No. Upon discovery, my mother found that I had packed roller skates and horseback riding boots. Just in case. I mean, who knew what adventures Europe would bring? We ended up lugging our suitcases to a post office and shipping more than half of the crap home. By boat.

Now much lighter and freer, we were ready to explore. With our passports and Eurail passes in hand, we were the jet-setting duo.

Maps were studied. Train schedules were examined. Pretty soon, itineraries and schedules were abandoned. We were the wanderers and walkers, logging in dozens of kilometers of walking a day.

One plus is that I spoke fluent French. I had attended a private French school through fifth grade–remember that I told you my mother was a dreamer, a traveler, a romantic? Yeah that. So here I am. A lanky, honey-haired, 11-year-old, who spoke impeccable French, taught by native French speakers. So my bad-ass 11-year-old self attended school in Aix-en-Provence, France. And made friends. I was “La Americaine.” I was sorta famous. And I was sorta loving it.

But, then, I was plucked out of school. School was too limiting! We had adventuring to do and pastries to sample! We…

  • Picnicked at Champ-de-Mars in Paris.
  • Sampled Gouda cheese in the village of Edam, outside of Amsterdam.
  • Listened to cuckoo clocks in the Black Forest region in Germany.
  • Wandered the canals in Venice.
  • Are shepherd’s pie in County Kerry, Ireland.
  • Visited Beatrix Potter’s home in the English countryside.
  • Explored the beaches of Portugal.
  • Watched the Changing of the Guard in London.
  • Stayed with a Swiss family in a thatched farmhouse, where they milked the cow to serve fresh milk at breakfast.
  • Learned to order gelato in Italian. “Una copa de mille cinq de stracciatella y cioccolato, per favore.”
  • Viewed the paintings at The Louvre and the Sistine Chapel.
  • Ate tripe in Germany. And it was delicious! OMG. I later learned that tripe means a cow’s stomach lining. I am now a semi-vegetarian.
  • Attended matinee plays and musicals in London.

Castles. Villages. The Alps. Markets. Beaches. Cities. Restaurants. Train rides. Foreign languages. Foreign money.

It was the best experience I could imagine. I will always carry that with me. That trip and those experiences widened my scope and view of life. It opened my eyes. It made me aware. It made me appreciate. My mother made it possible. She exposed me to a huge, amazing world…far beyond the little town where we lived in California. With her love of travel and dreamer-like senses, my mother gave me the world.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Comments (12)

sounds amazing!

This was truly touching. You were lucky to have such a wonderful mom! đŸ™‚

What a great mother and a wonderful childhood.

Oui oui!

Thanks for your nice message,

Thank you, and yes, I was!

Happy Mother’s day to you!

It was an amazing adventure!

Happy Mother’s day!

Such a lovely title leads in to this beautiful tribute filled with both details remembered from childhood at age 11 and with the big picture of the spirit of this trip! How positive and energizing and truly moving! And you are providing great experiences daily that are making warm memories for your kids too!

Thank you for your nice words!

Happy Mother’s day to you!

Wow, that sounds absolutely wonderful. Happy Mother’s Day to a very fortunate daughter.

It was a wonderful experience.

Happy Mother’s Day to you!

I loved reading this about your childhood, Pippi! What an amazing experience you had. So inspiring to read the rich details pulled from your memory. It certainly adds fuel to my own travel-dreamer tendencies…

Thank you. It was a rich experience and I thought my Mom deserved a shout-out for giving me that wonderful experience and exposure. We had several other worldly trips that I’ll want to recount at some point. Like when I was 18 and had a date with a French guy in Cannes…Ooh la la! đŸ™‚

Thanks for writing!

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