Loss of freedom. As parents we all know about that. Is the loss of freedom the biggie? You know, the thing that gets to you most as a parent? I just read a well written article by a mother who says that worse than the poop, the puke, the two hourly feeds through the night, the crying (oh, the crying!), is actually the loss of freedom. And I agree. I remember, before becoming parents, my husband and I loudly stated that having kids was not going to change our lifestyle one jot. Bahahaha! We sure had the wool pulled over our eyes there.
It’s that feeling of not just being able to walk out the door and do your shopping whenever you like. It’s the feeling that you can’t just go out for coffee with friends, or go to a party on the spur of the moment. And it’s the knowledge that you have to organize a babysitter before you can go anywhere, plus enough meals and snacks to keep everyone going. Plus the fact that you have to get them all showered and ready for bed before you can leave. And because you’re totally and utterly exhausted from all of this, and because it seems like there’s so much effort involved in just getting out the door, you’d almost rather give up and stay home for a quiet night in. Again.
I totally get this sentiment; this mental rebellion against the loss of freedom which parenthood inevitably brings. I’ve struggled with it a lot over the years. I’ve had plenty of moments where I just wished I could go back to being a professional horse rider, and then guilt because it would mean I wouldn’t get to spend much time with my kids. Do you know, it actually took me seven years of trying to be the mother who never relied on anyone else for help, before I actually realized that I needed some time to myself, and that it would make me a better parent.
But even with me time, it’s still not the same. I go out for coffee one afternoon a week, and do whatever else I want for that afternoon, but that’s hardly freedom, is it?
So what can be done about this loss of freedom?
I don’t like to gripe and moan and go on and on about this massive loss. So how about I do something that still makes me feel free anyway, but which involves my kids? Is that even possible?
Well, yes. I think it is.
For the last eighteen months, I’ve had my own horses at home, and to be honest they limit my freedom far more than my kids ever have. The loss of freedom which comes with the twice daily looking after of these four leggers, is immense. Try getting away on vacation. Almost impossible. In fact, I haven’t been anywhere since the horses joined us. Which is why they are now for sale.
You see, I had a brand new change of perspective the other day, when it suddenly occurred to me that I had a choice. I had the choice to keep the horses, and keep spending hours every day with them, and so missing out on all that time with the kids. Or I could choose to get shot of them, and focus on the family. So I chose my family. My oldest son is almost ten years old, and in another ten years he will be a fully functioning adult. My youngest will be thirteen and the others somewhere in between.
In ten years time, will I be happy that I chose to ride horses, and maybe run a business? Will I be happy that I fought for my ‘freedom’ and kept it? Or will I be full of regrets because this next ten years is the only window I’ll ever have to be a part of my children’s young lives, and I missed it? All because I was too busy having my freedom and playing with horses, or partying with friends? My kids are only young once. They will never be this young again. Ever. And if I miss this, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.
So how about this? How about creating a new kind of freedom? One that is not freedom from kids, but freedom with the kids. The kind where we are all free, together.
Our plan is this: we are going traveling. And we don’t know when we’ll be back. We are currently decluttering, and selling our property. In my opinion, that in itself is freedom! No things to tie us down, no repairs or maintenance to do, no insanely boring routine of coming back to the same place every day for the rest of our lives and wondering why we’re miserable. Nope. We are going to get rid of everything that doesn’t fit into one suitcase each, and then we’ll be off. We’ll be wanderers. We might stay somewhere for just a month, or maybe a year or two, but then when we feel like it, we’ll choose somewhere else and head there.
That my friends, is a whole different level of freedom. Not being tied to a place, but free to come and go as we please. Experiencing different cultures, seeing the pyramids rather than reading about them. Seeing the Colosseum in Rome, rather than just doing a project on it in school. Sunbathing and snorkeling on a tropical island. I have to say, that really does it for me.
Who cares about ‘loss of freedom’, when I get to roam around the world and romp my way through life, with these beautiful people my husband and I created? Am I really bothered about going out for coffee, when we can all ride elephants in India? And really, who cares about being able to go to a party when we can meet other families and spend the evening talking and eating, and drinking some wine on a warm beach, while the kids play together?
For me, this would be far better, and tick far more of those freedom boxes, than some independent kind of coffeeing or partying would. I would give up any amount of so called freedom to be able to experience the world with my kids, and share their childhoods with them; to share their passions and dreams as well as their frustrations. And in so doing we’ll build a bond that will echo through a thousand lifetimes.
There is no way I can call this a loss of freedom. It’s a far bigger, better, wholer kind of freedom than I could ever have had on my own.