Today I want to tell you a story about a mother who gave up her own hopes and dreams to give her children a chance to realize theirs. If this story sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s the story of every “good” mother you’ve ever heard. The one where the exhausted woman nobly puts everybody else’s needs before her own. It’s an inspirational story that tells the love of a mother through perpetual expressions of sacrifice. I know you’ve already heard this story a million times, but if we don’t keep talking about this incredible mother, how will women everywhere know that this is what motherhood is supposed to look like?
Wait, fuck that story. I don’t want to tell that story.
I want to tell MY story.
And apparently my story is one of a selfish mother who “wants, wants, wants.”
I knew the second I clicked the “publish” button on my money post yesterday that I was going to receive some backlash and some hard criticisms. I published it anyway because those words are my truth right now. And that’s what I want this blog to be – my story, my truth, my experiences.
If you didn’t read my post, it was about how we’ve spent the last three and a half years struggling to make the dream of full-time travel work for us financially. To put it plainly – it’s been tough. Really tough. My husband and I both work from the road, as a freelance graphic designer and portrait photographer, respectively, and make just enough money to get from place to place, with not much extra left over after food, gas and other essentials.
Something I wish I had made a little bit more clear yesterday, though, is that we absolutely LOVE our jobs and nearly every aspect of traveling full-time with our kids. Our children have beds to sleep in, food in their bellies and nearly four years worth of incredible experiences as a family. They’re happy and healthy and are the smartest kids I’ve ever met. They spend their days reading, writing, drawing, painting, learning, exploring, hiking, swimming, building, making music and snuggling their brand new baby brother. We don’t make much money, but our kids are taken care of.
That said, our kids DO know that we’re struggling. We actually talk about the struggle with them all the time.
Because we want them to know that following your dreams is HARD. That it’s nearly impossible to succeed WITHOUT some kind of struggle.
The vast majority of the negative comments from yesterday said something like “a good parent would put their children before their own dreams.” A colleague of mine said “there’s so much ‘I want, I want’ in this article. What about what your children NEED?”
First of all, I won’t apologize for wanting to make my life better. I won’t apologize for wanting to be happy. I won’t apologize for wanting anything. We’re only alive for a short amount of time and I want to make the most of it. I want, I want, I want to live a fulfilling life. I know, as a mother, I’m not supposed to want anything except for my kids to be happy, but frankly, fuck that nonsense. Wanting to have a career, wanting to travel, wanting to be successful, wanting to make more money – all of these things are GREAT when men want them. As soon as a mother wants anything more, though, people purse their lips and shake their heads disapprovingly at the selfish woman who “needs to get her priorities straight.” For the sake of her children, of course.
And second, me chasing my dreams is EXACTLY what my children need! Can you imagine how much more confident, capable and prepared for a tough world our generation would be if our parents had chased their dreams, shown us some real, meaningful struggle to reach a goal and sent us out into the world having witnessed somebody taking bold chances to live a truly happy life? That’s what I’m giving my children.
As a society, we tell our kids they can be anything, do anything, achieve all their wildest goals. We tell them to reach for the stars, even though we stopped reaching for the stars ages ago. If our kids don’t SEE US pursuing our dreams, how can we ever expect them to be brave enough to pursue theirs? We pat ourselves on the back for all the sacrifices we make, when really we’re sending the worst kind of message that our own happiness is not worth fighting for.
What my children need is a happy mother.
Could I make more money by getting a “regular” job? Would we have more money if we stopped traveling? Possibly. My parents had regular jobs and we were always pretty broke. I also never saw them, don’t have any real, stand-out memories of fun stuff we did together, don’t think they ever enjoyed any jobs they ever had and don’t even know what they dreamt their lives might be like one day.
I want more for my children. They deserve more.
I want more for me. I deserve more.
And I’m still not apologizing.
xo, Sarah Q
(Photo below of my poor, unhappy children at the Grand Canyon. 😂)