Wandering children

DSC_0019-12PIN IT“Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering.”
― Charles Dickens

I spent most of my 20s wandering the globe, always feeling deeply privileged to have the opportunity to do so. From the cobbled alleyways of regional France to the dusty brightly coloured villages in the himalayas – I got my education about the world from wading deep into it. By traveling I learned more about myself than I ever have by standing still. But the more I grow, and the more I change, the more I am faced with the intense responsibilities of making decisions about how to raise and nurture another life – the more I question everything I ever thought I knew.

I know there is one thing that I want to achieve when raising my child. I want to show her what is possible. To show her that there is unbelievable worlds beyond her initial comfort zone. To foster a love for the world to replace our modern worlds push for fear. To give her the opportunity to see different ways of living. To show her that she has a choice to live differently. Not to compare one against another. But to illustrate that there are beautiful loving people living lives that look different all over the world.

But what does the wandering child learn about home? I watched Bo learn a lot of powerful things while we travelled, she traveled with grace and patience and curiosity – with a great desire to touch and to explore and to understand. But what I saw when we came home made me question many things about how I approach the world. She was happy to be away. But an undeniable air of peace surrounded her when we returned home. She sat quietly in her own space. Touching her books and her dolls. Finding such joy in eating meals that for her bring great comfort. Curling up like a cat in our house and basking in all the familiar sounds and smells that mean home to her.

I was reminded that whilst I have spent most of my life on the move – so much so, no where ever truly feels like home anymore… do I want to Bo to feel that way too? Or do I want to nurture a feeling of connection and belonging?

The whole thought process brings about so many questions…

Can you have both – freedom to explore and experience AND a sense of belonging and connectedness? Can that balance be fostered in a child destined to spend time on the road… Can home truly be wherever you make it?

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  • November 5, 2015 - 6:40 am

    domestickate - Your last questions resonate with me–hard. Personally, I want a stable home more than anything, and I do think it’s possible to have stability and exploration at the same time; it just depends on how you define stable. My life continues to be nomadic, but what I really want is to be able count on my partner, to know that I’ll be employed/have enough money to provide for the family we’re starting, and to feel like I can slow down and invest in the people and activities that make living worthwhile. If I don’t have those things, my life will always feel out of control even if I stay in one place.ReplyCancel

  • November 5, 2015 - 8:38 pm

    Alicja - One of my favourite quotes Inked in Colour: “I reread the Odyssey… which I had first read in school and remembered as a story of a homecoming. But it is not a story of a homecoming. How could the Greeks who knew that one never enters the same river twice, believe in homecoming? Odysseus does not return home to stay, but to set off again.” Bernhard Schlink, The Reader xxxReplyCancel

  • November 6, 2015 - 4:32 am

    Jacqueline - As a child we moved around a lot and I envied the children who had always been to the same school and had the same friends. I soon settled though but always said that I would never live like that with my own children. However, when my children were tiny we moved to Spain. They have attended the same school since but have experienced the initial awkwardness and the constant sense of being that little bit different. My daughter is in her last year of school, and guess what? – she wants to study in the UK and then go travelling. She is prepared to live wherever life takes her. The most interesting people I have met, the most empathetic and rounded characters are those who have travelled. They can create a home from a suitcase because they are comfortable with who they are, they do not crave possessions, they can feel at home anywhere and with a simple smile make friends. Sash, it sounds as if you have a beautiful life with your daughter – you have created a good base to return to after your travels, but yes – let her see the world.She has you by her side, and you are her home.ReplyCancel

  • November 6, 2015 - 9:16 pm

    Jess - This is a tricky one. My father moved around every 1 – 2 years as a child as his father worked for a bank and that’s what they did in those days. He said that it was a horrible childhood because as soon as he had made friends he would be whisked off to a new place and have to start again. In the end he just gave up trying to make friends as there wasn’t any point. He also suffered academically because of the disjointed education he was receiving by moving from school to school in different regional towns. The only place that felt like home was his grandparent’s farm, so by the time he was older he would leave his family and go there every holidays.

    I suppose while your little one is so young it isn’t a problem yet but once kids reach school age some stability seems beneficial. Travel is beautiful and children certainly thrive from being exposed to different places and cultures – I’ve seen it in my own kids. But making deep, long-lasting friendships is also important and it takes time to build those, IMO. There is also the spirituality of having a tie to the land that can be so beautiful but, once again, I think this only comes from spending long durations of time at the one place or by returning to it over the years. Anyhoo, just my thoughts. We still moved a bit when I was a kid but it was more like every 5 years which worked well and there was always one place that was special to us. Even as an adult this place still calls to me if I haven’t visited there in 6 months or so! My tribal lands! We couldn’t afford to travel overseas when I was young but I’ve more than made up for that in my adult life and haven’t suffered because of it! I know your situation is different as you have ties to Indonesia but then again, maybe Indonesia will be Bo’s spiritual land. There are lots of school holidays in a year (sadly, more than work holidays. Boo hiss!) so I’m sure you will lots of opportunities over the years to visit amazing places and show Bo what the world has to offer.ReplyCancel

  • November 7, 2015 - 10:51 am

    supernashwan - Having moved constantly as a child which ended my up in 10 school over my primary/secondary education, I never had much issue with it until there was serious disharmony in my household that I was acutely aware of. Until then I never questioned as a child if how my life inflicted on me by my parents was right or wrong. As a young adult I continued to move and travel a lot, it almost seemed natural to do so, however once I married someone who had lived in the same city their entire life, I realized the benefits of having your roots in one place with an abundance of family at your fingertips (yet in a town big enough to live your own life!). I find that now I have a child and life has deal me a few curve balls lately, my desire to make roots somewhere by owning my own home and raising my child in one area is a priority, and as such we are moving back to my partners home town to do so. But can you move around and have a happy family life? I think so, but you need to have an absolutely connected and happy household for whoever is with you. Once it becomes unhappy for children there is nothing for them to fall back on. At least in a town that you have lived in you have others who you have known a long time that you can lean on, and for children that is also important (I think). But on the flip side, if you can keep a positive and happy household together on the move, than that is better than being stuck in the one place and miserable!ReplyCancel

  • November 19, 2015 - 12:07 pm

    Nikki T. - The old “roots vs wings” dilemma. IMHO, both are equally important. Roots will give you the strength to fly. Wings give you the ability to form, and appreciation of, healthy roots. One keeps you grounded; the other sets you free. Having too much of one, at the expense of the other, is detrimental. For children, I think good roots are determined by the strength of the parent-child relationship above all else. I have a suspicion that you will excel at that. Just my humble opinion.ReplyCancel

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