By Janelle Schroy, Photographer & Travel Journalist
As the moon sets over the Grand Canal, I gaze out the window at the cathedral domes of Venice. They are awash in a soft glow as the tourists settle for the night and the Venitian’s shutter their tiny stores. Though thousands of carnival masks and marionette dolls hang in the shop windows, they are now hidden by the darkness as the day comes to a close. It’s late, and for now–it’s time to rest.
My four little darlings are settling too, freshly bathed, pajamas on. Their hair smells heavenly, wet against my cheek as they hug me goodnight. They climb into their beds in this little apartment in Italy we are calling home – for this month at least. On our multi-year journey around the world to 50 countries, few things are ever the same. But when it comes to bedtime, we are learning how to make “home” wherever we are.
I light the vanilla candle, and say a prayer of thanksgiving for the day, thanking God for the adventures we’ve had together, and for the joys and the learnings we’ve shared.
Their sensory journey to a night of deep sleep begins now.
As each little girl wriggles her body into a comfy space in the bed, I bring her a small glass of warm peppermint tea. I ask each what she is personally thankful for as she sips her tea. We pause, and together we give thanks, foreheads close. The peppermint aroma is comforting. It’s the taste of home, anywhere.
One by one, they snuggle down, satisfied.
I tuck them in, each with their own small blankets closest to their skin. The blankets they have had since birth, cozy and warm, and most of all, familiar. The other blankets pile on top of their own, irrelevant. I smile as my oldest child brings the corner of her blankie up to her cheek, tucking it under her face as she finds her place on a pillow.
With her blanket, she has the same texture, the same worn corner, the same feeling–no matter what bed she sleeps in: Los Angeles, New York, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Venice. Always the same.
The girls reach under their pillows and find their eye masks. The slip them on with ease, willing their eyes into a state of rest, bringing peace. In traveling, the light differences in accommodation are too vast for any sort of sameness, and we quickly learned that eye masks bring the sameness we crave as we unwind from a day of new experiences.
The breathing deepens as four little hearts and minds make their way into dreamland.
I softly pad over to the phone, turning on the music. Scripture Lullabies. The orchestral music hovers around my sleeping babes, whispering Scriptures into their hearts, the words all truth, soul-building. They’ve heard each song 1000 times by now, but they never tire of hearing them again.
And peace descends.
I kiss them gently on their cheeks, grateful. A hotel. A rented apartment. A housesit. Wherever we might be together as a family, it’s our home. The five senses are attended to in the same way each night.
And the sleep is sweet.
One vanilla jar candle, One box of peppermint tea, Favorite blankets, Eye masks, Music.