Just days after launching our new RV Family Travel Atlas site a couple of years ago, we received this comment on the blog:
Having been camping and traveling with little tykes (our grandchildren), we’ve found that, later, they have little recall of most of the scenes and sights they’ve seen, although they seemed to have enjoyed the trips, mostly. Just a thought.
At the time, I shook my head, sighed, and wrote a brief response, basically telling the gentleman that he was missing the point altogether.
But now, on Mother’s Day, I want to elaborate.
You see there is an easy answer to this comment, and it goes something like this:
Dear Sir, Children are not just formed by the scenes and sights that they remember. All of the experiences they have, the very act of traveling and exploring itself, impacts their development and helps them grow into curious, adventurous, thoughtful human beings. Best, Stephanie
All of this is true, and I believe it deeply. So pat yourself on the back because, whether your kids remember all this RVing or not, you are giving them a super-fun, super-cool childhood.
But that’s not my real answer. Or maybe I should say it’s only about 30% of my answer.
Last week down in Charleston, we were lucky enough to be camping with some other families. After 5 days of spending time together around the picnic table and camp fire, I can say this: parenting young children is HARD. Traveling with young children is HARD. RVing with young children is HARD. Camping with young children is HARD. Being with young children, day in and day out around the clock, is HARD.
And yet all of us parents were having the time of our lives.
In this cultural moment, we are encouraged to give up all those pesky elements of our individual personalities when we become parents. I lost track of the number of times Jeremy and I heard people say, you can forget about that part of your life now that you have kids…
I’m so glad we didn’t listen to those people.
We didn’t start RVing because we had children. We started RVing because we love travel and adventure and exploration, and RVing is a great way to experience those things with kids in tow. Sure, I think RV travel is great for our kids. But that’s not always the point.
We are not just parents. We are parents that are living our own lives to the fullest. We are parents allowing our children to see us having fun, taking risks, discovering new things, and (yes) overcoming the obstacles of family travel.
For me, being a great mom doesn’t mean living my life in service to my children. It means modeling a life worth living. I don’t really care if they remember the forts from our trip to Charleston. What I care about is that they saw their parents navigating a new city, having conversations with locals, trying new foods, reading historical pamphlets, making compromises about day to day plans, and spending time around the campfire with friends.
They witnessed us having the time of our lives.
So this is my message to moms out there today: doing things that matter to you, enjoying life on your terms, embracing your passions, and dragging your kids along for the ride can be a really awesome way to parent.
To all our RV moms…Congratulations, I believe you are killin’ it.
Happy Mother’s Day,