This post is part 2 of this post… where I answer 2 questions from Claudia, a follower of this blog.
In her second question, Claudia asked:
“Once the kids grow up, do you think they’ll be unable to adapt to a less exciting lifestyle? Will they be open minded but also full of unreachable expectations and unable to settle down with a regular person? Do you see any great advantages in settling down and doing the routine-thing with a full calendar of activities on the fridge and growing up with a group of friends? Will we be cheating our kids in any ways? I guess my bottom line question is, do you have any regrets in regards to their upbringing?”
Well, anyone who has ever visited those places… will understand how overwhelmingly “wow’some” they are.
I remember a family member worrying that the Disney experience would “ruin” the kids… because surely, after experiencing the wonders of Disney World… nothing else would ever measure up. And every other playground and theme park would be held up and compared with Disney… and found to be lacking.
“How”, she wondered, “will the kids be able to enjoy the smaller things… the ordinary things… the less impressive things… after visiting the ultimate kids’ playground?”.
As it turns out, she needn’t have worried.
Our kids have enjoyed every single experience… whether the expensive, uber-entertainment of Disney… or the organic treehouse down the road… or the battered slide at the park. As much as our kids loved Disney World (and they did)… they have equally embraced ‘lesser’ playground experiences with just as much joy and enthusiasm… simply because they don’t view those experiences as being ‘lesser’… just different.
I think that all of us… adults and children alike… should embrace – with enthusiasm – every opportunity to make beautiful memories and to make the best of our precious life. And I think that beauty and happiness can be found in many different places – not only the ‘exciting’ places. Some things are less exciting… but meaningful and beautiful nonetheless.
I have enjoyed some wonderful, exciting, blood-pumping experiences is my life.
I’ve swam on the back of a Whale Shark, jumped off the Gouritz River Bridge, gone parasailing in the Pilansberg, wreck-diving off the Natal Coast, raced snowmobiles across frozen fields in Ohio, gone tobogganing in the Austrian Alps (among many other things)…
And yet… some of my favourite and most meaningful times are things like this:
- enjoying a beautiful view (as I am right now, whilst typing this blog)
- deep, meaty conversations with thinker friends
- snuggling with my husband and kids in front of a fireplace
- sitting at a lovely coffee shop, watching my kids play and enjoying a good cup of coffee
- a good movie
- a vase of fresh flowers
I don’t compare the “big” experiences with the “small” experiences. The exciting things aren’t “more”… they’re just different.
One of the things I value most about how we’ve chosen to live is this: the experiences we’re enjoying and the memories we’re making.
Some of those experiences and memories are made on international travels… and wow’some opportunities. Others are made in small organic playgrounds… or on the beach… or having coffee with a new friend… or sampling guava jam for the first time.
The kids have also had an incredibly diverse array of experiences. The US Road-Trip was like a high-energy, on-the-move-all-the-time boost of wow’ness. Here in Cape Town, we’re enjoying a different season. Life is far slower… there are different things to appreciate now… different experiences to be had. It’s not a ‘lesser’ experience than the US Road Trip… it’s just different.
Suffice to say… I think our kids will be able to adapt beautifully to any lifestyle they choose.
And who knows… maybe, at a later stage in life, they will want to travel less. Maybe I will want to travel less. I honestly can’t say.
And Claudia, as to whether I see any great advantages in settling down and doing the whole routine thing…
I honestly don’t think it’s an either / or situation. I think that many people are actually suited to the more settled life. Not everyone wants to travel the world. Not everyone enjoys The New. Some people genuinely like a settled life… a town, a community… an established base… where they’re known and understood. I definitely see value in that.
It doesn’t suit our family… (well, not right now, any way) – because we’re just not wired that way. We thrive off The New. We love adventure. I have an unquenchable curiosity… a longing to know what’s around the next corner. But obviously, not everyone is like me.
This blog – or at least I hope people know this by now… isn’t about inferring that there’s a right or wrong way to live.
If there’s only one thing I fervently believe in, it’s this: Live DELIBERATELY! Live on purpose! CHOOSE your path!
Don’t drift along… don’t fall into a routine because it’s what everyone else is doing… don’t keep trying to fit-in or live up to expectations that other people have placed upon your life. Live deliberately!
If you have a dream to travel…. then travel!!
If your dream is to own a farm in the countryside and grow your own veggies and bottle your own jam – then do that!
If your dream is to start up your own business – then do that!
And… I think that if we, as parents, live deliberately… live purposefully… and follow our dreams… then we set a fantastic example for our kids. And I don’t think we’ll be cheating them in any way at all.
If I have any regrets about my kids… and their upbringing…. it’s this:
I regret the early years. I regret sending them to daycare from 7 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. I regret placing so much value on my work (which I didn’t even ENJOY) – and thus my kids were shuttled away in order to accommodate nasty clients, uninspiring work and draining deadlines. For what? So we could afford to pay for a mountain of accumulated stuff??
So… those are my regrets. I regret those years.
But I don’t regret our lifestyle now.
Apart from all the beautiful memories we’ve made… and the amazing experiences we’ve all enjoyed… I think the most important part is this: Morgan and Joah get to be with present, happy parents. They get quality time… family time… and loads of love. They get to see what it means to live deliberately. And they know that it’s possible for them to live deliberately too. They get to see Mom and Dad happy. And they know that it’s possible for them to be happy too.
And that’s what I ultimately want for my kids: I want them to choose their path, to live on purpose… and to be happy. 🙂