Filed under: Family Camping, Nature & Wildlife, The Road Less Traveled
The Big Adjustment: Traveling Without Children
Those of you who have been following my posts know that in the past few, I have been lamenting the fact thought our children are growing up and less able to travel with us—something we have always done together as a family. The transition to traveling with no children is a significant one for any family and we are feeling it now. Always we have been able to enjoy their company. It was a chance to get to know them again; to reconnect in a way that was difficult during the school year when friends, homework, sports and technology interfered.
When I think of this summer, I am tempted to scoop them all up and head out, taking them away from all of their busy pursuits. But, alas, I know they are doing what they need to do. They must each forge their own lives, independent of us. They know we will be here when they have the time and inclination to visit. But it will not be the same. I will miss them.
I also know that, by our time and our travels, we have given them some special gifts. We have taken the time to know them and share with them our love of the natural world and give them a taste of all this beautiful country has to offer. And I have heard from Kate, our oldest and the one least in favor of camping, how much she misses our trips and the wonderful memories we made along the way. In fact, upon her move to California to attend graduate school, one of the first things she did was to buy a tent and a camp stove so that she could share her camping experience with her fiancé, who had never been on a camping trip.
I am realizing that, in parenting, we are simply planting seeds; seeds of interest and knowledge and concern. Seeds that will help our children grow into responsible and conscientious stewards of our natural world. Even though I understand the process, and knew all along it would come, I will miss them.
As both Terry and I have been therapists for more years than we care to count, we know that one thing we need to do as our children are leaving our home, and our camping experiences, is to create a new life for ourselves independent of them. We fully intend to help them out and support them emotionally in their endeavors. But we have to make a new life that includes less contact with kids and more focus on couple and individual pursuits.
You see, we were the parents that attended every basketball game, even though we did not especially care for the sport (we are doers more than watchers), nor did we have a child playing the game. However, our son was the lead snare drummer in the pep band and our daughter, captain of the dance team. We taped performances and routines, volunteered to help out at most school functions every year and scheduled camping trips and weekends “up north” around the kids social, sports and scholastic schedules. We will have a great deal more freedom in our planning now, but it will feel strange…and a bit uncomfortable.
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