Craig and I have chosen a rather unorthodox path in our life. We married and took off overseas to travel, and then had Kalyra and moved overseas once again.
The comments we receive about our life and parenting choices are endless. It often isn’t direct comments, but subtle looks or conversations that always leave us with the feeling that people think we are selfish and aren’t looking after the well-being of our daughter.
“She should be at home, so she can make friends….. She’ll be going to school soon…. You have to think of her happiness…” blah, blah, blah-blah-blah. Blow raspberries.
I personally would like to know how people have so much time to be worrying about what I am doing with my life. My underlying thought, however is always:
“How do you know if you have never pushed the barriers and tried things yourself?”
The negativity we receive about it comes from people who have never done what we do and are basing their judgements on what society dictates. I don’t run my life like that and never will.
I make decisions based upon what I know to be true for myself. I can only know these truths if I first question and then I try.
Of course, as naysayers are apt to achieve, doubts are put into my head and I start to think “Am I a bad mother? Do I not look after my child’s best interest?”
I look at my three-year old daughter, her happiness, and how she has benefited so far from her life of travel. And this is what I see
Global awareness and unlimited thinking
• Every day Kalyra asks when are we moving back to America. She knows she has to catch a plane to get there. “I don’t like going up or down in the plane mummy. I’m scared of that. You have to hold my hand.” Her fear does not stop her from going where she wants to go.
• She has no barriers or limiting thoughts as to what she can do. We watch a TV show about a travelling chef cooking amongst the rice terraces of Sapa, Vietnam. “Can I go there mummy and do that? It’s beautiful there.”
• “When I get bigger mummy, I am going to teach the kiddies in Thailand. Just me. Not you or daddy. Don’t worry I will be okay.”
“Will you call me? I’ll miss you.”
“Yes, I will. I’ll miss you too.”
• Kalyra is very aware of her world around her, she knows where she was born, where she has lived and where she has travelled. What a gift this is!
• Right now Kalyra is saving for Disneyland. She talks about it everyday, she jumps up and down and claps her hand with excitement and plans all the rides she is going to go on. She collects spare change from everyone and currently has $200. (great saving tip-collect your coins)
• Kalyra likes to pack her own bag and she is adamant that she rolls her suitcase to the airport check-in gates.
• We mentioned to her that we might go to Queensland. “Yeah. I want to go. When are we going mummy?” She asks us this a couple of times a week and tells people, “We’re going to Queensland to see where I was born.”
• On road trips, she loves to listen to Carrie Underwood over and over and over again, and eats packets of chips. She misses her road tripping car.
• She loves flying on planes and her excitement is palpable. She wanders up and down the aisle waving at people, she sits still in her chair and faves about all the movies she can watch. She loves pointing out all the great food she receives and she sleeps.
• She has friends that look and sound different to her, and even though she is not with them now she talks about them all the time. These are friends her age and friends mummy and daddy’s age.
• When we travel she talks to anyone, she finds children to play with in the park, she dances in the street. I don’t see her doing this when we are not travelling. She becomes more insular, reticent, and afraid.
• She loves hanging out at Starbucks. When we go to eat out, she grabs the menu, runs her fingers down the page and says what she wants to eat and then tells the waitress.
• She is very kind and caring and considers others happiness.
Intelligence and Creativity
• She can look at a tourist map (with icons on it) of Sydney and point out the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and Luna Park. She claps her hands with joy when we say we are going to Sydney for the day. “And can we go to Darling Harbour and I can ride the merry-go-round and the train!”
• She is highly imaginative, creates her own plays, reads her stories, can colour in neatly between the lines, knows her letters and numbers and can read her name and sometimes mummy and daddy. Travelling certainly hasn’t affected her ability to learn.
• She has a curiosity, awe and wonder about the world that is far beyond her years. She often stops to gaze and wonder, “Wow! It’s soooo beautiful.” She drives mummy crazy with endless “why” questions.
Most importantly when she travels she is happy, she glows with happiness. I’m not saying she wouldn’t be the same way if she didn’t travel, but many seem to think this is not possible.
In fact, I am more concerned for her happiness now that we are back in the “real world.”
Facing society’s concerns
Am I worried about schooling for her?
Absolutely not. I am a school teacher. I see what happens in classrooms every day. A teacher’s time is taken up with those who don’t want to learn and bureaucratic demands.
Parents will always be the first and foremost educators for their children and besides, schools are everywhere. Why does she have to be limited to one school, in one area, for her whole life?
What about friendships?
Kalyra can easily make friends. She may not make those long-term friendships, but is that really a bad thing? You have to question. What are the good things about it?
She learns that people come and go in your life, and that you can’t hold onto things. She learns how to get along with people who talk, look, believe and think differently to her. She learns that no matter where she is in the world, she can talk to someone and laugh with them and share special memories, even if they are only temporary.
What about her extended family?
This is always a hard one, but I will say exactly what I believe in regards to me and what my parents have always said to me. “This is your life, you have to do what makes you happy. You are not responsible for anyone’s happiness.”
With technology these days keeping in touch has never been easier and more instant.
What about developing her passions and interests?
This is my only major concern. Right now she loves ballet, and has just started classes. The challenge is to work out how to maintain this while we travel.
Considering we usually take the expat/digital nomad travel approach, she can always take classes wherever our new home may be. If not, maybe online classes??
In retrospect, I don’t think I am a bad mother or that Kalyra suffers from our life travelling the world. I can only see how much it has heightened her awareness of herself, the world around her, and her happiness.
Caz Makepeace first started travelling and living around the world in 1997. For the last 9 years, her husband Craig has joined her adventures and now their 3 year old daughter Kalyra. They believe life is all about the memories and making your life a story to tell. You can follow their travel stories and tips at their travel blog, or join their facebook community.