As our little family has grown to four and the kids are starting to grow up (we’re currently have a 3yo and an 18month old in the house), a feeling that has been nagging at me is one of guilt. However, this is isn’t just a simple feeling of guilt. Instead, rather, it is multifaceted guilt that cannot just be easily resolved.
I find that these feelings of guilt start to creep into the picture when you start to think about societal norms and what others expect to find in your family. For instance, having the kids in a traditional school system so that they are learning in the same way that other children learn. Another feeling of guilt comes from keeping the kids out of the classroom so they are not having the same level of interaction with other kids as they would have in a more traditional setting. Guilt also stems from the constant commentary from others as to how at this young age kids need stability in their lives and that a nomadic lifestyle certainly couldn’t give them the stability that they need. (sigh). On top of all this there are the feelings of guilt associated with which side of the family the kids get to see more of or how much time the kids are spending with different family members in comparison to another. Is it fair to the kids? Is it fair to the family members? Guilt, guilt and more guilt.
Take a breath.
Forget the guilt. (Yeah yeah, I know easier said than done right).
All of that guilt is coming from others. It’s the voice of judgment. It doesn’t have to be that way. Ultimately, we all want what is best for our children and I think I speak for many when I say that we do everything that we can to give them the best life possible. Will they always think that it’s fair? Probably not. Will we mess up from time to time? I can almost guarantee it. But I for one will always continue to try. It is not just up to me to make sure that the kids get to see different family members when we are nomadic family. It is also up to the family members themselves. If they want to be a part of the kids lives they need to make an active effort to be there. Pick up the phone and video chat with them if we are on the other side of the world. Heck, get a ticket and come visit wherever we may be. I realize there are constraints, but it is not up to you to figure out how to cart your entire family around the world to see a particular person. It is not, and you absolutely should not feel guilty about it one bit. As for the guilt associated with living an untraditional life…. well, I hope that one day the kids realize that we are living as a nomadic family so that we can have rich experiences and really get to understand the world beyond what a textbook tells us. That we have decided to live our lives in this way so that they begin to question why things are they way they are in the world and that they learn to address problems that may be bigger than themselves in a way that a traditional school simply cannot teach them. I promise to my children that I will do everything that I can that they can have friends and interact with other kids so that they do not miss out on those critical skills that are developed by doing so.
But ultimately, I promise to myself to stop feeling so guilty. To stop letting the voice of others dictate my feelings and to continue working towards giving my children the best possible life I can given them while teaching them to be good people, even if it is different from what everyone else “thinks” I should be doing.