One of the greatest gifts of our time in France is that I was able to see my children in ways that I hadn’t seen them before.
For many years, our family life has been built around ballroom dance. They were at the studio practicing, I was at the studio in various teaching and leadership roles, and I thought that since we were all there and in the same space that I was tapped into what was going on with them. It has been sobering and also painful to realize that I wasn’t. I was missing many things—some small things, and some big things. We were going at a million miles an hour and I lacked the boundaries that should have protected my children’s space and time with me.
Flying across the world, moving into an apartment that is half the size of our previous home with one bathroom to share, and then spending 24 hours a day every day together for nearly 6 months has been a big change for our family. Some difficult things have bubbled to the surface and demanded our attention. To have the time and space to give those things focus has been a great gift.
I have also come to see what amazing young women my daughters are. They are fearless charging through the metro in Paris, riding Vespas through Tuscany, and navigating the insanity of the airport in Romania. They show courage in speaking a language that is not their own, even when it feels awkward. They have broad perspectives, compassionate hearts, and deep faith. They are curious observers and students of history and art.
After our first full week in the country, my husband Matt and I asked the girls how they were feeling. All three of them started crying because they were so overwhelmed. Everything was new—the grocery store had strange systems, the food was weird, the toilet paper was pink, and everyone was speaking French all the time. It was a lot. When I think about those three crying girls of a few months ago and then picture a thousand moments of quiet bravery that have happened since then, I am so proud. I am so deeply grateful for this time to open my eyes and really see my beautiful daughters.