Most meaningful moment of the year

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I think I’ve pretty much established the fact that my family’s pilgrimage to Europe last summer was one of the more important events of my life. In addition to crossing off a handful of Life List dreams, Viktor and I were able to take our children to my husband’s childhood home. From the moment they were born, I’ve wanted nothing more than to take our children to visit Poland while Viktor’s parents were still alive, and last year we were able to make that happen.

It was a big. fat. deal.

There are so many parts of the trip I haven’t shared because I truly don’t have the vocabulary to properly express their significance to me. I’ll get there eventually. There are also so many things I’ll never forget, so many meaningful moments, and I want to share a couple with you.

We landed in Warsaw after 25+ hours of travel, all of which can make a person a little hysterical, this person in particular. I vaguely remember holding my children’s hands, walking through marble floored hallways to the baggage claim, all the while rotating my head from side to side so I wouldn’t miss a moment on the ground. Viktor grabbed our luggage and allocated a piece to each member of the family while I stood open-mouthed, looking frantically from one Polish guy to another swirling around me.

It was the first time since the moment I’d laid eyes on Viktor 16 years earlier I’d ever seen another man look anything like my husband. Many other men. Multiple men looking just like Viktor!

In fact, every single man in the baggage terminal could have been Viktor’s brother; they all looked more like him than his own brother. So many Viktors in one room I didn’t even know where to feast my eyes! My sweet little hysterical babies started bleating into my ears before my brain was even able to process what I was seeing,

“Everyone looks just like daddy!” Where did daddy go? I can’t tell which one is daddy, they all look the same!”

“Mom, are you getting this? Mom! Mom. They’re all dad. Every single one of these guys is dad. But like, not dad. Have you ever seen so many ‘dad’s’ in one place?’

I know this all sounds crazy but when you don’t live in your native country as Viktor doesn’t, every time there’s a sliver of cultural identity to be found, no matter how seemingly insignificant it seems, it’s a big deal. It’s the reason I feel such pride every time I see an American flag. It represents a part of who I am, of what it means to be Allison Czarnecki.

Viktor doesn’t live in his home country, he doesn’t eat traditional Polish food, he doesn’t speak Polish all day every day, he doesn’t put his hand on his heart and sing his national anthem every time he goes to a sporting event. The very things that make my husband who he is are rarely represented in his life, and it breaks my heart.

So touching down in Warsaw and immediately seeing an entire room full of Viktors, an entire airport filled to the brim with carbon copies of my very un-American husband, was like coming home again. It was putting hand to heart and having a moment of solidarity and representation. And when my baby boy traced the names on the chapel wall at the cemetery with his fingers, and sounded out the names of the fallen men from Katyn, he marveled that another little boy somewhere in Poland spelled their name just the same way he does.

What was your most meaningful moment in the last year? I know you’ve had some good ones, so don’t hold out on me.

You can share your moment for a chance to snag a skin care Anti-Age System from Meaningful Beauty. That’s pretty fancy.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Meaningful Beauty. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest Rules.

 

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Allison

Well, hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. We do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, crazy home remodel projects, and cool (yes, cool) DIY crafts you'll totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!

18 Comments

  1. Rik :

    Are you TRYING to make us cry?? :) This is perfect. I bet it was one of (many of) those perfect moments for you in Poland.

    • Allison :

      I totally wasn’t, but I made MYSELF cry!

  2. Lori :

    I got choked up as well. Very well written. Does your husband have an accent?

    • Allison :

      Lori, I wish he had an accent. He somehow missed that window. His older brother totally does, but he doesn’t unless he’s very very sedated or asleep. It’s funny!

  3. Cindy Fisher :

    Thanks for sharing this, Allison. I can’t wait to hear more about it all. I know when we went to Hawaii for the first time, Kulani hadn’t been there since he was 5 and it was life changing for all of us. The experiences you shared were similar to how I felt. And Kulani said for the first time probably in his whole life, he felt at home. We thankfully get to return every now and again. I hope you get to do the same.

    As far as important moments of last year, it was probably one of the most growing years of my life. My husband lost his job, and I had to return to full-time work. I learned a lot about marriage and what it takes to keep one together. It’s hard work, but I think both of us would say that we’re in a better place. We both changed for the better and can look back on this trying year as a great moment in our life, really. Before, my husband hardly knew his kids because of his crazy work life. While he was laid off, he was able to watch his children on a full-time basis, and he would have never had that opportunity. He’s found a new job with much better hours, and even though the pay isn’t as great as his old job, we think it’s a great blessing.

    And I’ve also learned that having good help is almost a necessity for a working mom. We hired a woman named Paula, and she has been an answer to 10,000 prayers. I’m not a strung-out cranky monster, thanks to her.

    • Allison :

      Oh Cindy I had no idea Kulani felt that way too! Something about the transition from your mother country. And then getting older and wanting to identify with who you are/your roots. That makes me happy he has someplace like that to go home to once in a while.

      I had no idea he lost his job! We need to go to lunch and chat. I have no idea what’s going on unless I hear it from Mary.

  4. Carina :

    I had a baby girl and I can’t think of anything more meaningful.

    • Allison :

      and what a little baby girl. mmmmm.

  5. Anne :

    My most meaningful moment in the last year was the last day that I saw my friend, when she was dying of cancer (sorry!). We spent the afternoon together in her hospital room talking and hanging out and I clearly remember every second of it. I could even find my exact parking space from that day again. The last thing we said to each other was “I love you.” Sorry, I am making myself cry.

    • Anne :

      Oh, and I am not commenting because I want to win anything. It’s just that your post was so beautifully written and I wanted to respond to that.

  6. Helena :

    I had to ‘out’ myself as your reader, I love this post! As someone who has lived for 13 years away from her family raising children with a man who also hails from somewhere else, I can so relate to this. We have had to make the decision of what is home for us and what it means to be essentially a foreigner in our adopted land. We are trying to raise our children to speak 3 languages and appreciate the fact that they have access to all these wonderful places, people and experiences. But it is hard, incredibly hard to always say good-bye to people you love, the food you grew up with, the culture, the language, the traditions.

    So in light of this my most meaningful moment this year has been our nearly 2-year-old boy finally starting to talk and talking more each day. And he finally called me mom in my mother tongue, not just ‘mama’ , when he woke up in the middle of the night last night. It broke my heart a little, it felt so special.

    • Allison :

      Helena, I hope it didn’t take too much courage to out yourself. I’m so glad you did!

      The whole home country/identity issue is so real, and it’s something I take for granted. I live where I grew up and feel 100% at ease about the whole thing. To have gone “home” for my husband was such a thing. I *knew* it, but didn’t know it.

      Thanks for sharing. And seriously, mama in the mother tongue is a forever moment.

  7. Dee :

    This is so heartfelt, it left a lump in my throat! Thanks so much for sharing! Oh and I’ve been to Warsaw once for work, beautiful to say the least! x

    • Allison :

      Thank you Dee!

      Isn’t Warsaw amazing? Try to get to Krakow if you can sometime. Holy macaroni, it’s so beautiful.

  8. Paulina :

    I totally understand! I’m Polish myself (my parents moved to Chicago when I was 4, so I’ve gotten the best of both cultures), and yet I still think that all Polish men look essentially the same. The just *something* in their faces that I can’t describe…
    I read on one of your earlier posts that you want your children to learn Polish. If you manage that, please let me know how you did it! When I eventually have children, I’d like them to know Polish, too, and while I’m fluent (and will probably just speak to them in Polish from the moment they’re born), I’ve known many Polish families that have trouble with their childrens’ Polish language-skills. It’s very disheartening- my own brothers (both American-born), while basically fluent, have very obvious accents and often use English words when they speak to Polish family members.

    • Allison :

      Paulina, thank you for sharing! All Polish men do look the same, and I think they’re hot to trot, something very Eastern Bloc.

      I don’t speak Polish or I would have spoken it to my children from the word go, that’s my advice for teaching babies. No English, they’ll get that at school.

  9. Red :

    That is so funny! My husband is Native American and Greek, though born in and raised a native San Franciscan. However….many generations ago, the Scottish came over to America and married the Cherokee Indians. Our last name is Ross because of this long ago Scottish / Cherokee connection. My husband is a handsome guy. I think he (honestly) looks a lot like Mark Wahlberg when he was younger. However…He did NOT resemble either the Indian side of his family, nor the Greeks. I was forever asking him…Who in the heck do you look like??? Finally one year, he had a business conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. The MOMENT we stepped off of the plane, I had the exact same experience you did. EVERY SINGLE SCOTTISH MAN looked identical to my husband. I immediately turned to him and said “OMG! YOU ARE SCOTTISH!!!” I worked at an animation studio in Los Angeles as an art director for many years that was owned and filled with Hungarians, and like your husband, they also had a very distinct look, they actually looked very much like your husband! Most of Europe is this way…the Italians look ITALIAN. The Irish look IRISH. The bottom line is that as Americans, we are all sort of *mutts*. :) LOVE your BLOG. <3