What it Means to Captain This Ship: To My Husband On Father’s Day

June 16
Vigo, Galicia, Spain

This has been a challenging week, to say the least.  Somewhere in the lovely Picos de Europa, our van started to sound as if it were towing a refrigerator up and down the mountains.  After consulting a mechanic in Oviedo, we learned that our driver-side caliper was shot and our tie rods were close to giving up the ghost.  Still we pressed on, through the Asturias and the better part of Galicia.

We finally began our descent down the length of the Iberian Peninsula only to be held up in Vigo, the last largish town in Spain before crossing the Portuguese border.  Conversations with Mechanic Number Two, whose sought-after advice seemed prudent given our faith in second opinions, have instead landed us in a further predicament.  Evidently, our detour through the mountains cost us an entirely new brake from the ground up: disks, pads, caliper and all.   To top off this sloppy mess, we’ve been reminded that we are on our last thread with regard to our back tires, and by thread I am quite literal…right down to the millimeter. The Spanish financial crisis in the form of off-label Mitsubishi auto parts has officially come home to Chez Rauch.

Now, while I have a spot of fondness for our van Sherman, whose likeness and therefor namesake is a rusty old tank we spied on Utah Beach, I am currently keen to convert him to scrap somewhere in a Vigo back alley.  After all, I tell myself, there was once a time before Kendley when we were far fleeter of foot and didn’t rely on our own private vehicle to whisk us off from one adventure to the next.  But that’s my impulsive, damn-it-all side speaking.  It’s the part of me that would prefer to “toss-a-hand-grenade-and-ask-questions later” as Ryan likes to say.

Times change, after all.  At this moment, time has morphed our little foursome into an overweight gaggle of Lisbon-bound packrats, and one need only to sift through Sherman’s trunk to see proof.  Irish hurling sticks and bundles of winter coats; sleeping bags and a tent used only once in ten months; bags of toys donated by various Airbnb hosts, crayons, pens, textbooks, cooking accouterments and a few bottles of French wine that I’ve sacked away for one of these rainy Galician days.  Cripes, there are three used bikes lashed to the back of the van! Where did it all come from?

It’s true, we are heavy and slow and consuming far too much diesel for my liking, but this is where and what we are at this particular moment.  But since it’s also Father’s Day this weekend, I have made a promise to myself this afternoon to stop gritting my teeth and muttering about the car.  So let me end this rant and meditate for a moment on MY HUSBAND.

Dear Ryan.

It’s been nearly two weeks since I sat down at a computer to write, and in your infinite empathy, you took the kids to the park today, for the entire day.  So while I could be catching up on a post about France, or uploading pictures from six months ago, I am compelled to thank you in the most public of all forums (aside from Facebook, which you loathe) in a manner that is so unaccustomed to me.  As you say, I am capable of expressing just about anything with the written word, aside from my feelings.  Please allow me to prove you wrong.

In my mind, Ryan, there is no equal to you.  And while that’s a phrase that you are likely to see on many a Hallmark card back in the States at this time of year, it couldn’t be truer.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I am a terrible mother, I am certainly no natural.  The task of raising children, especially ones like ours (lunatics, both of them), in the manner of our choosing (all over the world), has not been for the faint of heart, and there have been many times I’ve doubted myself, compared myself to others and felt I was coming up short, and otherwise known deep inside that that I wasn’t giving it my all.  I am the sorry one who rolls over at night, pulls the pillow over head head, and prays the kids go back to sleep on their own accord.  I am the one who, when their kid is sobbing for whatever reason, tells them to get over it, and that (bruise, scrape, broken ankle) will only make them stronger. I am the one who shrugs matter-of-factly when a favorite toy has been dropped on the trail or out the window of a speeding (car, bus, train, boat), but not you.  You are none of what I am, for you have compassion.  For the sake of our children, and for me, I am grateful they have a father like you.

You are the master of the small comforts.  Every night without fail, there is a glass of water for me on top of whatever it is we are using as bedside table these days, and every morning, vitamins that I would otherwise forget are waiting somewhere near a mug of coffee that you’ve percolated in the Moka before I even got out bed.  You’re the one that hauls our gear out of Sherman every time we settle into a room for the night, and you’re the one who magically crams every last item back into place at the beginning of every crazy day.  Someone (your mother) instilled a work ethic in your heart that knows no limits, and someone else (your father) has inspired you to give your all, every day, to those you love the most.

I have seen you elated, living in this precise moment as the Program has taught you, lost in the embrace of one of our kids.  I have felt you radiating as I followed you down a shady ravine in a European mountain chain as Kendley and Oliver held fast to fingers on either side of your hand.  I have watched silently as you have knelt beside Oliver to help him say his prayers at night.  I am thankful that you are sharing the wisdom you have gathered from changing your life for the better.  Oliver, Kendley and I are the benefactors of every ounce of hard work you have invested in yourself.   I am a better mother because of what I have learned from you.


I have seen you at your worst, and despite hardships, your family is still tantamount.  I have seen you fried beyond recognition after long travel days, or haggard in mornings after our children have cried throughout the night. Despite being exhausted and malnourished on account of a stomach that has never played fairly for you, you have still managed to put me first and insist on spiriting the kids off for an afternoon so I might have a moment’s peace.  Morning sickness, night feedings, and trips to the ER in various countries… all the onslaughts that are part and parcel to parenthood are burdens shared.  I have no singular hardships, nor can I claim any crosses to bear.


And then there are those things, too many to count, that you carry all on your own.  Intangibles to me, realities to you.  Logistics, finances, plotting the points on a route that has no beginning and no end.  The cogwheels of the life we live turn indefinitely thanks mostly to you. Other men who would put their own comforts and convenience first would have sacrificed this life long ago, God only knows.  With all we’ve been though, other men might have sacrificed the prospect of this very family long ago.  But not you.  You have shared in every moment, good and bad; you have been by my side every day since our little boy drew his first breath.

I have seen what tremendous faith you have placed in our journey, and I know what it took for you to turn your back on the career that had become your identity.  I was with you in those early months of sobriety when it was all in question.  But it is a fact that what you have gained as a result of your choices has made all the difference in our life together, and it is my great privilege to share it with you and our children. For like me, our kids have been given the gift of having not only a father in their life, but a man like you.

There is a reason why you are what you are today, and it is the same reason why we are here, together, in a little town on the Galician coast.  It is the reason why we are a family.  It is because of you.



  1. Oh Emy,
    “As you say, I am capable of expressing just about anything with the written word, aside from my feelings. Please allow me to prove you wrong.”
    Yes, lovely, yes you did. So beautifully. And I echo all those thanks for the man in my life who does just about the same. We are so blessed, lucky and really, really spoilt.
    Ryan… bask in the love that comes with these words from your very grateful wife.
    Happy Father’s Day!
    The Blairs XXx

    1. 🙂 Thank you, Julia! We are lucky ladies, indeed! And a very happy Father’s Day to Andy as well…I have no doubt that he deserves as much credit as Ryan. Much love to you three and safe travels as always! xxoo

  2. Emily – this is a beautiful post, you are a gifted writer! Happy fathers day to Ryan! We miss you and can’t wait to hear more from your amazing journey. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks everyone! And big ups to all the new dads and dads to be (Amit & Neil, you can’t hide)! I’ll think you’ll agree, it’s a steep learning curve to being a great dad but entirely worth the effort!

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