You may or may not be aware of a rescue happening now on the high seas, but I’ve been gripped with this story since I heard of it. A family of four, with two small children, set out in their boat to cross the ocean. One thousand miles from the Mexican coast, their boat was damaged by a storm, and then their tiny baby got sick. Very sick. They called for help, and boats and helicopters made their way through the ocean toward them. At this point, it looks like the little girl is stable, but still critical, and the fate of the boat is unknown. They have been blogging about their journey at Rebel Heart.
But what has really struck me is the sheer number of haters out there.
“I don’t understand what they were thinking to begin with. I’m sorry, I don’t even like to take my kids in a car ride that would be too dangerous, and it’s like taking them out into the big ocean? It’s like – I don’t know.”
There is a tradeoff to everything. Yes, we could be overprotective helicopter parents, not letting our kids take a ride in a car, but what will that teach them in the long run? Maybe they will be “safe” for now, but what about in 10 years? 20 years? What will they have learned as a result of living in that bubble?
I’ll tell you what they would learn – they would learn to fear the world. They would learn they weren’t capable of taking on the world. They would learn to cower in their own little corner, afraid of anything that might hurt them. Is that really what we want?
I am a mother who took my own children from Alaska to Argentina on bikes. Yes, bicycles. 17,285 miles through 15 countries. Our journey took nearly 3 years. While everything went well for us and we had no major issues, I always knew that something COULD HAVE happened. And I knew that, if that “what-if” had happened, we would have been crucified as parents.
Any parent who chooses an out-of-the-box childhood for their kids knows there are risks. But there are also tremendous pay-offs. The lows can be very, very low, but the highs are amazingly high. The benefits are life-changing.
We faced our share of critics while on our journey. We dealt with people who felt we were endangering our children’s lives every single day. But in the end, we had to answer to our children. We had to provide our children with the very best childhood we knew how to give. We needed to encourage our children to reach for the stars and dream big and do great things. If we didn’t do that, we would have failed them.
And now, looking at this whole thing from the other side, I can say that our journey was worth it – and then some. All 1018 days were worth it. All those 15,000-foot mountain passes we pedaled over and all the massive winds we battled – they were all worth it. My sons learned from each and every one of them.
We were accused of teaching our sons nothing useful – that we were only teaching them to be “bums on bikes,” but they are moving on and spreading their wings in amazing ways. At age 16, they are now involved with FIRST Robotics, working at the cutting edge of science and technology. Together with their team, they won at the Salt Lake City regional event and just now (30 minutes ago) lost in the semi-finals at the Las Vegas regional. They will go on to the world finals in St. Louis in a few weeks, and I have no doubt that they will put up a good fight and do well.
Again, life is a tradeoff. We can take the safe route, but we have no guarantees of its safety. We might not see the failures of that route for 10 or 20 years. Or we can reach out and grab life by the horns and live it with passion and determination. Each one of us gets to make that choice.
I urge you to think about that. Consider all the benefits and costs, both long-term and short-term. Don’t take the easier route just because it’s “safer” now – will it be the best in the long run? Life is a gamble, and it doesn’t always go our way. But it doesn’t always go our way at home either.