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“Are we there yet?” The Broader Picture

By April 20, 2015 Musings One Comment

We have just conquered the Easter Holidays. I don’t say that with either contempt or exhaustion, I love holidays, and I love spending quality time with my kids. I say it with the despondency of a mother who didn’t take her kids away on an exciting holiday. When asking them at the beginning of the holidays what they wanted to do, I was met with answers of North America, skiing and Mexico! – hardly destinations we were able to attain. Now I realise we may have set the bar pretty high, when in the first 4 years of their lives they spent 5 months doing exactly those things, I’m not sure what answers I was expecting. I guess I was hoping for answers of, the science centre, the beach or the movies, something more on our radar.

We ended up doing my prized suggestion of things, and a few more, like the park, a grocery shopping trip or two, and cleaning out their cupboards, obviously all things that spark elation. I sat each night mulling over the idea that I had failed them. Then one night, half way through my second slab of chocolate, it dawned on me that the person I was actually failing was myself. I wanted to go on those North-America-skiing-Mexico holidays even more than they did. They were more than content to stay home and mess about with what ever happened to cross their path, I on the other hand, was not.

Now in a brazenly honest statement, there is just no way we could afford to go on any of those wonderful holidays right now unless we did something drastic, like sell our house, for example. It was in one of those mulling moments that I realised I was willing to sell my house! I was willing to let go of the things I love and feel attached to, to head off on another adventure. That is in my braver moments. In my more level headed state, when I’m not looking at friends travel pictures or researching where we should jet off to next, in other words, when I’m behaving like all other ‘normal’ 32 year olds with 2 children and a mortgage, I realise that what I have is magnificent, and all I ever wanted when I was growing up. Selling my house would be terrifying in the, ‘now we’re homeless and 32 and not in my life plan’ kind of way.  Why can I not be more like my children? Simply, more content.

I’d like to take all the credit for their incredibleness, I mean I have raised them, so obviously their wonderful behaviour is of my (ok to be fair, and my husbands) doing, and of course I made them in my womb, so from start to finish I have just done one hell of a good job. This is discounting all other input from grandparents, family and friends, but sometimes taking the credit is just better for morale. I am willing to attribute all character faults to the aforementioned, thereby not neglecting their efforts entirely (you know I love you guys).
So, my easy going, happy children, content with staying home and sorting recycling, would not begrudge us selling our house. They would not care if we told them to choose their favourite things and pack the rest to give away. I mean they may protest and dislike the idea initially, but they’d be over any upset quickly enough. Why is it that they are so easy going? When did I become so ‘attached’ to my everyday life, to stuff? I have reached the point in my life where I have everything I ever dreamed of, I have a wonderful husband, 2 magnificent children, a house, 2 cars, we have travelled the world (well part of it), and I live in arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I have attained that most desirable point in life where I have everything I need and wanted, so now it’s time to start wanting more, right? More stuff, more things I don’t use, gadgets to make my life easier and toys my children don’t play with. The media tells me what I should want, they suggest things to me everyday, and by God they’re right, I do want those things! Why hadn’t I thought of them before? Lounge cushions that define me, with words like ‘L.O.V.E’ printed on them in an earthy washed out tone. Bright lamp shades with metal birds on the stand, contrasting the rustic earthiness of the material with the starkness of the metal. Bowls in a different shape from our two current sets because the shapes we have aren’t quite right as desert bowls, they are too big, meaning we end up eating too much desert. When did I lose my self control? When did I stop thinking about what I actually wanted and let the media tell me what I should be spending my money on? I mean, if I weigh up cushions, lamp shades and dinner sets against an experience as treasured as exploring our world, travelling through other countries or summiting new mountains, when did I let myself get bullied into wanting ‘things’?

My children don’t want things. They would much rather spend time with us, doing anything! Having a picnic in the garden, riding their bikes on the promenade, climbing a mountain. Skiing is obviously high on their list but only because it was simply one of the best things we have taken them to do. Obviously not owning a house would mean we would have to rent one, so one could argue that it’s wiser to keep our own, but my sentiment remains – why are things and stuff more valuable than places and experiences? In my moments of self reflection over these holidays I began to realise that maybe I’m ready to start behaving more like my children, being less attached to stuff and more concerned with experiences. Maybe I’m ready to give the media the finger and write my own list of wants. Scatter cushions be damned, maybe I want to climb the Matterhorn or watch Alpaca’s graze on the slopes of the Andes. Where exactly are we trying to get to? What am I aiming for with all my stuff? My answer to the question: Are we there yet? Is: Are we where yet? It’s high time I started charting a course that set a value and a direction on doing more things, not getting more things. If we can’t have it all, I’d put my eggs in the basket that valued life experience, not a life full of stuff. Shouldn’t we all, for our children’s sake. What are we teaching them?

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