This is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while. I touched on it after we first moved out here when I wrote about how our kids don’t like living in the bus, but the whole idea of what sort of obligation we have to make sure our children are “happy” while we’re intentionally in a difficult living situation is still something that we’re trying to figure out.
A few weeks ago I asked Lily if she wanted to write her own blog post about her feelings about living in the bus. Her reply was “Sure, but it would be really short: I don’t like it.” Neither of the the girls’ opinions seem to have changed in that regard, and since my own enthusiasm for this particular lifestyle has been waning, I can’t really blame them.
The things they don’t like, as far as I can tell, are pretty much the same things that we don’t – namely the inconveniences: climbing up a ladder to get upstairs, going outside to get something out of the fridge and the lack of air conditioning when it’s hot, among other things.
I should note that there are definitely things about living out here that they DO like. They like that they have a ton of a space to run around and take rides on Daddy’s quad. They like their play set, tree house and trampoline. They are enthralled by the chickens (this morning they both came running in THRILLED because they actually watched one of the hens lay an egg!) and they love the fact that there are kids around to play with.
It’s really just the bus that they object to. Fair enough.
I think that if we were ONLY dealing with that issue, it wouldn’t really be a big deal. Like many people have told us, eventually this will be a distant memory that we will all probably look back with fondly and tell stories about to our grandkids. For sure.
However, it’s not just the bus. They have also had to deal with me being pregnant almost the entire time that we’ve been out here, which, despite my best efforts, is not tons of fun for them. Or me. Or ANYONE at all, really. I can’t jump on the trampoline or run around or rough house and I’m tired and cranky and hormonal and in a decent amount of pain a lot of the time, which makes for lameness all around.
In addition, Noah is in a really busy season of work right now and has also been putting in extra hours to make sure everything is squared away for his upcoming paternity leave. He has also been working hard when at home dealing with everything from a broken generator (which means I can’t do laundry), to building the chicken coop, to repairing leaking pipes and helping out with the household stuff that I’m no longer able to do (crawling around on my hands and knees to clean the floors upstairs just ain’t happening).
Plus, we’re also trying to get this ding dang house built, which requires even MORE time dealing with the bank the builders, fund control, insurance, etc. (though, I have been able to use their dislike for the bus as leverage on occasion, as in: “If you ever want to live in a house, you will be quiet while I make this phone call.”)
Simply put: we’re in a season where neither of us feel like we have been super available to the kids lately and we both feel guilty about it.
Despite the fact that this is just a season – eventually we will be in a house and I won’t be pregnant – it’s causing us to want to do things to “make up” to the kids for things being not quite normal in their lives lately.
This manifests itself in little ways, such as letting them have macaroni and cheese two nights in a row for dinner, or sometimes in bigger ways -like, we’re planning to take a field trip to Legoland this week with Lily’s school (justified by majorly discounted tickets and a hope that so much walking will induce labor). We want to give them stuff to be excited about and look forward to.
The struggle, I guess, is in not going too far. It was noted in the comments on the Halloween post (and rightly so) that the kids dressed up and got candy – no fails there. It’s just that the pressure we’ve been putting on ourselves lately to try and make family events EXTRA special (let’s go trick or treating AND to a party!), and the ensuing regret when we make poor choices as a result (tired, overstimulated, cranky kids) is kind of a crazy cycle.
I don’t think that we’re the only parents to ever experience this phenomena (right?), but it’s new for us and I don’t want it to have long-lasting, negative effects.
I don’t want the kids to always be expecting us to present them with “new and exciting” things to entertain them. I don’t want them to feel like they have a right to be overly coddled because they’re going through something not exactly comfortable. I want them to be resilient and creative and hardworking and to rely on themselves and each other instead of just mom and dad.
I think all those traits have enormous potential to be developed in our kids, but I also think that we could totally undermine it all by taking away the opportunities for them to grow. And that’s something that I think we’re going to try and be more mindful of… I just don’t quite know how yet.