“Shall I follow a dream? Or are dreams made just for children?” –Child of the Universe by Laura Nyro
Young people have dreams. We were no exception. We wanted to be free spirits, to travel, to explore. We loved the water and dreamt of spending a summer–or a lifetime–on a boat, exploring it. We lived in a “mobile home resort,” which was really just a campground that could fit older trailer houses. We had a 12 X 60, on an RV lot, and loved it. At night, it smelled like campfires. On weekends, our neighbors hosted a bonfire for anyone to join. The first warm weekend of the year, everyone walked past us, enjoying drinks on our porch swing, and asked us about the winter.
Then I got a full-time job. We wanted to start a family. “You need a bigger house, if you’re going to have kids.” We believed it. We found a reasonably priced chalet, in a subdivision. It’s a wonderful, efficiently laid-out house. It will be an inspiration when we build our next, smaller house.
When I got pregnant, everyone shook their head and said the same thing: “It will change your life.” I smiled, because I hoped it would. I remember what my mother had said, when our friends started having kids: “Everything is more fun with children.”
We had friends who took their baby off-roading in their Jeep (it put her to sleep!). Other friends insisted on traveling with their daughter, until she became accustomed to sleeping in a hotel room. Now she cries when it is time to leave.
Nobody has backpacked with their kid, but we’re seriously considering it.
What do we want to teach our daughter? Do we want to teach her that it all stops when we have a kid? That she was the end to our fun?
Or maybe that dreams are powerful? That we love her enough to include her in our dreams?
So, Beanie comes along with us on Moonraker. She loves the waves, and she climbs around on the deck when we’re in port. When it’s dry docked, she climbs up the ladder and says, “My boat!” When she’s older, she’ll throw lines, trim the sails, and take the helm. This is her life as well. This is our gift to her.
She won’t remember this summer, and running aground. She’ll remember Moonraker, the boat on which she spent the best part of her childhood.
So, take your child on that boat. Take them on the adventures you had before they were born. And, if you feel that the house in the suburbs is not where you belong, take them away from that. Yes, people will criticize you. If you go against society, it’s inevitable. But, many will admire you. They won’t necessarily speak up, but they will be there. They will root for you in that small house, or boat, or wherever you end up. There are many life stories available, and only one is the “American dream.” Choose the story, the adventure, that is yours.