A Series on the 3 Things I Got Right as a Parent
Part 1: A Wood
When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a rough urban neighborhood in Chicago. We didn’t have a TV, and ate dinner watching the prostitutes pass by on the sidewalk, or the undercover police conducting a drug raid on the building across the street. I cried to my husband one day, “Where are our children going to learn to ride a bike? How are they going to understand what ‘sun dappled light on the forest floor’ means?”
I was pregnant with our second child, so maybe it was hormones. Or maybe it was something more. I grew up in a rural setting with tons of freedom. It was one of the best things about my childhood and I was determined to find some of that for our kids. So we reconnected with old friends (from 1982!!) who lived in the north woods of Wisconsin and began vacationing there with our kids. We rented a cabin at a YMCA family camp, and eventually our friends and family sort of took over the annual ten days until we knew most everyone there.
Soon our kids were making birch bark houses, digging for worms, and catching turtles. At any given meal, I might have 12 children stream into my cabin and I would be expected to make sandwiches for all. But then I might not see any of them for the next 6 meals!
The children roamed, like wolves, in packs and played in the woods or sped around in kayaks, going to “blueberry hill,” “rock reef” or “zombie island.”
The men tied their canoes together at 4 pm and tried to outdo one another with “good” beer discoveries. There was, and probably still is, a legendary Muskie, stared in the face twice, but never caught.
This precious time in nature is one thing I got right as a parent. Of course, my kids are only in high school, so maybe the jury is still out. Sometimes I recall my fears as a young mom quick to blame myself for everything. “Do you think this is because I ate so much ice cream when I was pregnant?” I’d ask my family doctor.
“Well,” he’d joke, “It’s always the mother’s fault.” So maybe my kids will end up in jail and it will be clear that I did everything wrong. For now, at least, I bask in the glory of a few good decisions.
What about you? I’d love to hear what you “got right” as a parent!