My husband and I were both raised in rural towns, went to public schools, and did a variety of team sports throughout the year. I loved the rhythm and routine of the seasons and the regular schedule. I liked the comfort and security of the way I grew up, and I really hoped to one day raise a family the same way.
But something happened when my husband chose to do his medical residency in Hawaii. We fell in love with a new way of life. Before we knew it, we moved to the country. We started homeschooling. And suddenly I found myself living anything but the traditional life I had always imagined. Our boys began to surf and skate, but we don’t have many team sports even available to us. This was all at once lovely and completely uncomfortable to me.
One of my boys is a competitive surfer, so our days revolve around the waves and year-round contests. For him this life is great, but sometimes I worry about the other boys. I imagine that my middle son especially would thrive in a more traditional school setting, doing traditional sports, living more of what I always imagined to be a traditional life. If I start to compare our life to the lives of others, I can get anxious and worried. We simply don’t have all of the options that we would if we lived somewhere different. This leads me to wonder–
Am I giving all of my boys enough? Would they be happier in a traditional school setting? Will I ever regret this life we have chosen?
And the truth is, I’m not certain about any of that.
But here’s a few things I have learned:
1. No two families will ever be alike. It is useless to compare your family to your neighbor’s family, your cousin’s family, or the family you were raised in. Comparison is a trap that will only zap your joy.
2. For every opportunity your family experiences, there will be a few downsides. Face these downsides bravely. Challenges will be part of your story and in the end, they will bring God glory.
3. Teaching your family to link arms and walk through life together, despite differences or challenges will be the bond that keeps you all close.
4. Finding something special for each child may take some creativity, but it is absolutely possible, no matter your circumstances.
I often think of Bethany Hamilton’s story in the movie Soul Surfer. Her brothers were her biggest support system, both before and after her shark attack, and they still are to this day. What an amazing role they have played in her life and what a great example they have set for other families.
Today my middle boy is involved in our church youth group, which gives him a healthy social outlet. He is becoming a talented guitar player and he plays in recreational sports when he can. Do I still wish there was more for him? Yes, but we stay connected and as of now, he’s a very happy kid.
All of the brothers are great fans of the competitive surfing brother…who hopes to one day commit a big trophy to his family, who he knows have been the support that has allowed him to achieve his goals.
Regardless of your family’s situation, or circumstances, I encourage you to embrace your story, and create something beautiful with what you have!