Antoine and I have always loved traveling. Not with a suitcase from hotel to hotel, neither relaxing on one of the beaches of Hawaii (although I would not be opposed to that one). We love traveling as in the true meaning of the word: making a journey. We have done that by car, in a canoe, but mostly on a bicycle. Just packing our panniers, picking a route on a map and hitting the road. Sometimes we were gone for 5 days, at times over a year.
That was in our previous life. The life we were living before we chose a new way to direct our energy. Life before kids. At the end of our last bicycle trip, when we had gotten stuck behind borders because of administrative froufrou and countries at war, we decided that coming up with yet another sack of money to pay for flying over a country was probably not the most responsible way to establish ourselves for the future. Our limitless adventure turned out to be limited after all. Promising to ourselves that we would continue life with our travel spirit, we landed in Loveland, Colorado. Before we knew it we were settled with a dog, a cat and a baby on the way.
People say that life with kids is like a journey. It sure is. You enter territory that you’ll never discover unless you become a parent. The sleep deprivation, teething and potty training are not for the faint of heart, although this adventure seems a lot more acceptable to the crowds than biking the roads less traveled ever was. But we could never shed that feeling of incompletion. After three kids we feel definitely complete when it comes to our growing family, but there has always been this little bird on our shoulder reminding us of our deep dreams. This feeling of belonging when we manage to go on a camping trip, especially when we are enjoying a cup of coffee in the fresh morning air, trying to forget about the awful night we just had. Camping with babies is a whole different ballgame.
Living in our –for us comfortable- fixer upper, we notice how we forget where the moon is. We start relying on our smart phone to see, not feel the temperature outside and our outdoor adventures are more like packing trips than being in the outdoors.
Now, I should not only complain, because our family has done a pretty fabulous job when it comes to still getting out into nature, and we have had the privilege and guts to be able to expose the children to all kinds of adventures that many families of five would shove off the table for at least a decade after the final child enters this world. When our youngest child was barely 5 months old, we had to take a road trip to California to renew our European passports. With nothing to lose and some extra time on our hands, we took off for 3 weeks in our Toyota Camry, packed with all our camping gear. I won’t say that I did not, at times, sit in the passenger seat with my ears covered, wondering what we had started, but we did it, we made it and ended up having a wonderful time.
Because of this experience in the spring of 2016 we decided that this was it. The time was right, the older kids were growing into fantastic travelers and we had confidence that the baby would grow along.
All summer we worked on turning our house and property into rentable shape. We had been fixing it up since 2009, but many final touched still needed to be done. We started the children in special swim lessons so that they would be able to rescue themselves, since our environment will be changing all the time and we as parents are outnumbered. Next on the list was the purchase of the travel vehicle that would carry us on our path. Antoine very briefly brought up the possibility of continuing on our bikes, but not an ounce in me is motivated to paddle that kind of load. We researched fixing up the family Volkswagen campervan, but imagining potty training, homeschooling and not to ignore work in such a small space did not seem very realistic, if we want this journey to last beyond the first week. We settled on a large trailer, with reasonable amenities to make the transition from our small home to a much smaller one as reasonable as possible.
Soon we will be traveling again. Our life with kids will be the journey that it already is, but taken on the road. We see our future as one with a traveling lifestyle, giving us opportunities like discovering much more of the world though our kids’ eyes and embracing skills as a family that will be so much easier to pass on when on an adventure. While life with kids is a whole world in itself, we are thrilled that the little bird on our shoulder has not given up on us, and has been reminding us of our own personal dreams. Almost ready to go.