It’s strange because I just remember the last week in Istanbul being full of back pain, cold weather, confusion, new routines. Lots of changes. Yet I look back on the photos and everyone looks happy. We did so much. I’m totally killing it (apparently) as a solo mom traveling with two small children. Yes, I can’t really lift the over-packed luggage, duffel bag, backpack, my almost two-year old and a camera bag, all while holding Cole’s hand, so everything is a massive schlep to the hotel room. And sure we’ve had to change rooms a few times due to some scheduling snafus at the hotel making the first week feel like a marathon of packing and unpacking. And of course, I sometimes dread having to run even simple errands like going to the ATM with both kids, not knowing if one or both will give up on the trip half way in and dissolve into tears. Usually it’s fine. I’m getting better at this. It’s all getting a little better.
I count any trip out as a win, but I’ve had a few big ones. We went to the Spice Bazaar and the nearby mosque, and Cole had his first Turkish corn-on-the-cob.
I feel like there is so much to see that you’d have to spend months just wandering around to grasp it all. Cole asks me, “Hey mama, what’s that?” and it’s some ancient wall, with something else built over it and I have no idea.
“It’s really old, honey.”
See, travel is super educational.
The kids have been the best dinner companions. They’ve totally adjusted to this lifestyle of having special straws and people who bring you french fries. Cole has even started calling them “chips” just to fit in with the locals and to have his meaning understood more quickly. Efficient, that one.
Turkish food? Okay, give me patates kızartması.
So many little stories… the people who smile at Stella everywhere we go.
Watching Cole get excited about seeing new things.
I walk with them, shuffle really, through crowd, often Stella on my hip, snapping an errant photo when I can. I would love to run all over this city, or to get up at dawn to photograph it, or to spend hours and hours just wandering it’s truly spectacular mishmash of twisting alleys and forgotten old buildings.
But then I think… here, Cole, take my camera. So he does. And I make sure the strap is around his neck and he takes photos from his point of view. Like the guy who sold us tea (above). I love his warm smile. That was for Cole, not for me. It’s something I wouldn’t have seen except through his eyes.
While I was chatting with him, I didn’t even notice Cole taking this photo. I got to see his perspective of the interaction.
Normally, these are the kind of photos I take. Yet, traveling with the kids was showing me something else.
Cole took this too. I was standing next to Stella, out of frame. What I love is something I didn’t even notice at the time because I was so focused on making sure Stella was okay with the attention. The guy standing across from us, looking adoringly at my daughter. Thank you Cole! And it just made my heart burst because I saw how kind and sweet everyone was with the children and even more so… even when I wasn’t looking, even when they weren’t aware of being observed, these are the little moments Cole caught. Truly, some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, those Turks. Also, so much gratitude for my kids in a moment when I was just thinking about all the challenges.
But most importantly, how are the kids? Happy. Freezing cold. But happy.