936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
The majority of my first five years of life were spent on the road, stacking memories upon miles. My dad was offered a position at work that came with a notable amount of travel. His own terms for accepting it were that he could bring my mom, brother, sister and me along. And sometimes our cat, too.
My mom roadschooled us before roadschooling was a thing. While dad worked trade shows, we spent our days learning about the world around us among museums, zoos, and national monuments. In Vegas mom would reward correct spelling words with quarters to use at the hotel arcades. As our odometer counted away the miles, we ate up audiobooks from the backseat, tales upon tales weaving their way into the story of our childhood on the road.
We settled down around the time I turned five. Dad took a new job, and my siblings and I set out to learn how to find adventure at home. But in a way, I never left those miles behind me. Travel has a way with a child’s spirit, no matter how young.
My memories of those years are fragmented, becoming more vivid only toward the end of our travels. I can see myself, three and a half feet tall, standing among the slanted streets of San Francisco. That city would capture my heart even years later, when I would return as a young bride with my husband on our honeymoon. I can glimpse bits and pieces of the road we traveled to get there as a child. I can vaguely make out the steep mountain ridges rising up on both sides of our van, canyons full of cactus, goats, and adventure. And although my young mind was unable to form those images into concrete memories, the backdrop of those towering summits imprinted itself somewhere deep within me.
Twenty years later they would draw me back with my husband and three young boys, our hearts set on making that backdrop the one of our boys’ childhoods. We sank our roots down deep among the sage brush and Columbines. My incomplete memories from my own childhood began to piece themselves together along the trails of the Rockies, my boys running eagerly ahead of me and my husband.
I have heard the question asked, “Is it worth it to take young kids on trips they won’t remember?” Any of us who has dared to do this are well familiar with the sacrifice, cost, and stress involved. Traveling with children requires a deep level of flexibility, and constant attitude checks—for both children and parents. Often in the mucky sections of the journey we can ask ourselves, is this worth it?
I recall one weekend from last year in particular. Our SUV was packed to its limit with our boys, camping gear, and Labrador retriever as we wound our way toward the remote peaks of Silverton, Colorado. Our aim for this trip was twofold: First, to explore a piece of our state none of us had ever laid eyes on. Second, to volunteer at an inaugural trail race—thirty miles on foot through the woods over five mountain summits. Fifteen racers would sign up, two would finish. Our boys would cheer them on from the aid stations, “Go go go! You got it!”.
It would rain for two days. Our canopy shelter leaked. I was seven weeks pregnant and, well, feeling seven weeks pregnant. I would slog through mud to use the pit toilet. Yet as I laid there in the tent next to our sleeping two-year-old, listening to the raindrops fall in the cadence of nature on our tent fly, there was no where else I would rather be.
On our drive home our six-year-old relayed the trip over the phone to his grandma. “We could not roast marshmallows, because it was raining,” he told her. And then, “It was so, so beautiful! TOO beautiful!”
I think the cost of a few tanks of gasoline and putting up with a muddy campsite were well worth hearing him exclaim those words.
I like to look at my life and believe that even if my parents had not gifted me with travel at an early age, that I still would have chosen it. I like to believe that exploration and the pursuit of wonder would have still wound their way around my heart, but I’m not sure. It is possible, certainly. It is the story of many, a love for travel stumbled upon later in life.
But I also love to look back and realize that although we came home when I was young, and my memories are fuzzy at best, even those seemingly insignificant adventures were highly significant. They were poignant, leaving lasting marks on who I am today. It shows me that even the smallest of efforts toward this, even weekend trips and afternoons among the trails, these hold the power to shape my children for the rest of their lives. Whether or not they can recall all of where we went, what we saw, or the flavors we tasted—those details become a part of who they are.
Two decades in hindsight I can look back with greater clarity to see the sacrifices that my parents made in order to give my siblings and me the valuable experiences we shared on the road. I wonder how many times my parents asked themselves, “Is this worth it? Will they remember this?” I hope they found their answer years down the road, when my sister would travel to Haiti, my brother from Belgium to Austria, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, to Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago. And myself to Southeast Asia, Africa, Panama, and Europe. I hope they have their answer now, as they watch us pack up their grandkids for road trips much like they took us on as kids.
Most of all, I hope that they found their answer two decades ago, as they glanced over their shoulders to the backseat, and they saw it, just as I do now with my own children, that yes, this is worth it all. It is worth it to take young kids on these trips that “they won’t remember”, because in the deepest of ways, they will.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!