Taking our kids to our national parks teaches them the importance of respecting nature, preserving our ecosystem, and learning from our history. In short, it teaches them how to be better citizens and how to demonstrate their love for their country. If more adults did that, maybe our country wouldn’t be such a mess right now.
While we still occasionally shake our heads at ourselves and the fact that we have completely placed aside our tents (we are now on our third camper in six years), it is the one non-mortgage debt that we refuse to regret. Making camping an essential component of our family life has changed us as individuals, made us better parents, and brought our family closer together. I wouldn’t exchange that for the most exotic vacation in the world.
This past spring, as I made plans for our summer vacation and waited to see how much time and money we would have left to have our own vacation, all the while struggling to find a location for just the two of us that we could both agree on, I finally had an epiphany: We were still allowed to have our own new experiences that didn’t involve our kids.
We’re re-learning how to have fun together and reminding each other that we are more than just Mom and Dad: we’re best friends, lovers, and life-long companions who still enjoy the things we did when we were 19-year-olds falling in love. The difference is now we have the ability to fund those activities without sentencing ourselves to Hamburger Helper for the next month.
I am more to my Creator than a wife and a mother. That is not all He sees when He looks at me and, no matter how important and significant those roles are, I don’t believe that is all that He has made me to be. I believe that women need to do what is best for their families and only they can know what that is. In the end, I know that I am being the woman and mother that my Creator made me to be, and that is what brings me peace.
No matter the stage, being a parent is still work. Each phase just brings a different kind of work and with each phase of parenthood we have tried to embrace how our roles have changed.