Like many parents, I’ve wanted to give my kids ‘more than I had’ – to the point where I sometimes worry that I’m giving them too much or things are too easy for them. I also struggled with this when I quit my job in January. Our family’s discretionary income certainly dropped without my civil service job. But – I felt having more time with them, and not feeling the stress of getting everything done when I was home was more important than ‘the stuff’.
On a recent backpacking trip, I came to realize how much more I was actually giving my kids. I definitely felt better about these experiences than any of the material things I could ever give them.
- Lake Swimming – We live solidly ‘in town’ – there are no lakes, ponds or creeks for them to play in, so this is not a regular occurrence. I grew up with a creek (we pronounce it ‘crick’). We would damn it up, look for crayfish or just tromp through it. So when we went to the Uinta Mountains,the boys got to play in a cold clear mountain lake – with a log. No goggles, no diving toys, no diving boards – just nature.
- Starry, Starry Nights! I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. It was normal to see the stars. We don’t always get to see the stars where we live because of all the light pollution plus the fact that it stays light for so long in the summer! When we head to the mountains – there are lots of stars to see – if we can stay awake long enough (that’s the great thing about backpacking – it definitely wears these to boys out!) – yea, I know – this picture doesn’t actually have stars – but the moon was pretty!
- GOATS! Growing up I saw lots of white tail deer, red tail hawks and even an occasional bear. But the first time I saw a mountain goat, I was in my 30’s or maybe even 40’s. But, my boys had the privilege of seeing this beautiful mom & her baby. They came right by our camp (we were really surprised that they came so close!). Then they even heard the mama & baby calling for each other – it was an odd squeaking, almost crying noise.
So – I still want to give my kids more than I had. But, at least now I don’t feel guilty about giving them too many material things. I love being able to show them the beauty that God has surrounded us with in nature!