Fast forward to age 31. I’m married. A master’s degree under my belt, working on my dissertation. I have one amazing 2.5-year-old little boy. I’m happily married to the love of my life. We own a small business together that we are trying to grow internationally. Looks pretty good on paper, right? I’m sure if you would have met me two years ago, you would have nodded your head in tacit agreement with the path my life was taking.
It felt good, to have everyone nodding their heads and saying, “Good job, Scarlett! We’re proud of you! You’ve finally done something great.” I loved all of the approbation. So, when my husband approached me about traveling the world full time for a few years, I immediately said no. Me, the girl who was considering getting an utterly basic “wanderlust” tattoo, said no. Why? Because I finally had a stable, safe life. I was on my way to realizing the American dream. All that was left was the big house and the 1.5 kids.
It took a lot of courage to let go of that. To let go of my doctoral program. To let go of my “dream” house. To let go of the lovely, safe neighborhood we lived in in St. Louis. To let go of the possibility of a steady income working a 9-5. To let go of living a life that EVERYONE agreed was just fine.
We have chosen some not-so-traditional methods of raising our children, including choosing to give birth to our second baby in a foreign country. Our first was a cloth diaper baby, we are a bilingual household, we co-sleep, we never sleep trained, we don’t believe in time-outs, and we plan to do a mixture of homeschooling/unschooling/traditional schooling. Add to that our decision to travel full-time with two young children and - BAM! - cue the influx of well-meaning but skeptical questions about our lifestyle.
“Wait a minute. What about school? Shouldn't they be in school? Surely you’ll come back to the states once they’re old enough for school?!?”
“Aren't you worried about all the traveling? How it will affect the kids? Don’t they deserve some stability?”
“You know, Roman is going to be delayed in speech because of all the different languages he will be exposed to.”
And on and on and on. I have wonderful answers to all of these questions, but that’s not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to illustrate that there are thousands of families out there that aren't doing exactly what you’re doing. We’re making mindful, well-planned, and well-thought-out decisions that will positively impact our families. Our dreams may not look like yours or anyone else’s that you know. Our style of living could be completely incomprehensible to you. Fine. It is OK if you don’t “get it,” if you can’t understand why I would choose to do so. What isn't OK is questioning my ability, as an adult and as a loving mother, to make the absolute best decision for MY family. There's a difference between coming from a place of love and respect and coming from a place where you feel the need to change my opinion.
So, the next time you find yourself shaking your head in disagreement, or disapproval of someone’s parenting actions or decisions, swallow your innate, human desire to spread your good word, nod your head, smile, and say, “How very wonderful for you and your family. I’m so happy for you. ”
Open with that and you could go on to respectfully ask about any issue you may have questions about. And that’s it! We’re automatically best friends and you gain my love, admiration, and respect for a lifetime.