A Delightful Visit

A Delightful Visit

“It was a delightful visit;-perfect, in being much too short.” – Emma

As I have mentioned several times over the last year, my husband and I are now empty-nesters. Our youngest daughter was home for exactly one month before taking off for her summer internship. The next time we see her will be when we deliver her car to her in August. Someone just asked me today how I liked being an empty-nester. In truth, there are times I love it and times I hate it. No longer having to take into consideration everyone’s schedule before deciding what to do for dinner is amazing. Wanting to share an experience with my kids but they aren’t there is a bummer.

Now, before I go further, I must tell you that my husband and I had our kids a bit later in life than others our age. Our kids are in their early twenties and are focused on establishing themselves in their careers. Our friends’ kids are older and starting families. We frequently hear talk of grandchildren and are asked if we are anxious to become grandparents. We are not. Our kids are much too young and too driven to turn down that path just now, and we are content to wait. There is no rush.

So, where am I going with this? As I said, our friends’ kids are older. Recently, we learned that one young family was moving and their travels were going to take them right past our home, so we invited them to break their journey at our house. And that is how we came to have three adults, four children under the age of seven, and a dog spend the night at our house last night.

As they packed up to go this morning (and I thought of what I would blog about this month), I began to think of travelling with children in Jane Austen’s time. First, I will mention that their initial arrival time yesterday had been anticipated around 7:00 pm. This was moved to 10:00 pm when it took longer than expected to pack up the car and get on the road. As their journey progressed and the number of unanticipated stops increased, it was pushed as late as 11:30 pm. Luckily, they were able to shave off almost an hour and arrived before eleven. Three groggy-eyed children climbed out of the car (the youngest being an infant who was carried) and slowly made their way into the house. A little water and juice revived them, and suddenly we were exploring the house at hyper speed while attempting to answer one question before the next could be asked. One little one attached himself to me and we played with a motion sensor light while the rest of the family finished their supper. (Oh, to be so tickled by a light coming on “all by itself.”)

This morning, Grandma and I entertained the kids while mom and dad packed everything back up and reloaded the car. Our guests climbed into their minivan (grandma and two little ones in the back, two more in car seats in the middle––the dog lying on the floor between them––and mom and dad in the front with the back fully loaded and a rooftop cargo carrier on top) and were on their way to their next destination.

Now, imagine the Gardiners (one carriage for two adults, four children, and their luggage) on their way to Longbourn. Today’s minivans come equipped with DVD players to keep the kids entertained, while the poor Gardiners would be left to their own devices. As happened with our visitors, the children might be lulled to sleep by the motion of the vehicle, but I doubt the Regency squabs were as comfortable as a baby seat or even the well-padded third row bench seat. And don’t forget the poor child who gets motion sickness while riding backwards. A desperate need to relieve oneself could not be resolved by taking the next exit and stopping at a fast food restaurant. Stopping on the side of the road (which is still done today when necessary), might not offer sufficient coverage from passersby and could be exceedingly difficult with the multiple lengths and layers of clothing. Any delays, particularly during the winter months, could leave a family traveling in darkness and facing all the dangers which came with it. Oh dear, the sudden vision of a mischievous child determined to escape and unhindered by childproof locks just passed through my mind, followed by a shudder. Heaven forbid the parents be lulled by the sway of the carriage as well! On the other hand, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy would be blessed to have a second carriage with servants to assist them and make the journey more enjoyable (well, for those in the master’s carriage anyway).

I did have one unexpected takeaway from this whirlwind visit: grandkids are pretty cool. You get to play with them and give them back when you’re tired. But we’re still not ready for any of our own just yet. Our brief visit left us all wishing it could have lasted a bit longer and talking of when we will do it again.

“On every formal visit a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision for discourse.” – Sense and Sensibility

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July 6, 2022 3:15 PM

I always wondered if the Gardiner kids behave well on their travels. They might contain themselves for a half a day but not for mutliple days of travel. (No wonder they did not plan to bring them on their vist to the North)

Appreciative of all the things we can provide our kids now, so we can always bring them with us (if we want to ) when we travel.

July 5, 2022 6:42 PM

Traveling with kids has definitely improved even from when I was younger where I relied on my Walkman and a book to keep me entertained.

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
June 29, 2022 11:28 AM

That sounds like an active household for a while there!lol I thought when we went to the beach with five people it was bad! I’m sure you’ll be happy to see your daughter though.

Caryl Kane
Caryl Kane
June 29, 2022 10:52 AM


J. W. Garrett.
J. W. Garrett.
June 29, 2022 9:14 AM

What an awful perspective… traveling back in the day. I can remember no air-conditioning, no seatbelts, and no safety features like child-proof locks as I grew up. Everything was manual. If you wanted a window down, you had to crank it. I remember my little brother getting carsick on a trip.

I cannot imagine traveling during the Regency. If it were just the master and mistress traveling, I could see two carriages. However, if there were children involved, then at least three carriages would be needed in the travel plans. The master and mistress and/or older children would be in the first carriage. Next, the younger children and or babies, nannies, nurses, etc. Then the servants’ carriage would include the ladies’ maid, the valet, the governess, and any other servants. The necessary luggage would be with each carriage. Outriders would be with each carriage in case they became separated or they experienced carriage trouble. Good gosh, what planning would be needed for such a trip. Especially if they had very far to travel. Hertfordshire and London would be a nightmare in logistics. I think Darcy and Elizabeth would be up for it. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

June 29, 2022 8:53 AM

At least you know you’ll appreciate your grandchildren when you do get them! I love my grandsons and am missing them so much. My eldest two live in Australia so I haven’t seen them for four years, conditions permitting they are hoping to come next year when the boys will be 10 and almost 8. My youngest are 5 year old twins and live not too far away but alas, due to Covid and my health issues I don’t see them as much as I would like.
Yes I can imagine just how difficult travel with children must have been in those days and even though there were no iPads when my two were young, we at least had travel games and story tapes!

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