As a newly blogging mother of a toddler, choosing the nomadic lifestyle, I’ll start this blog by clarifying what I want for my son.
Here’s what I want for my son, where ever we end up, along the way, and generally in life:
to play. to feel safe. to be healthy. to experience joy, love, empathy and gratitude on a regular basis. to feel confident to express and develop his true nature and find something in life that he truly loves. to learn to handle difficult emotions in a healthy way. to learn multiple languages. to enjoy people. to meet exciting new people. to develop an open respectful attitude towards other cultures and people who don’t look like him. to open his taste buds early to global flavors. to be exposed to MUSIC- dancing, clapping, singing, drumming, instruments from other cultures. learn how to work and take care of himself (not because I plan on ending my duties as a mother early but rather because I don’t want it to be difficult for him to support himself later on. and because I want him to feel like he has some worth.)
At this age, cleaning up and helping fold laundry is a fun thing to do. Even if my toddler isn’t capable of doing these things WELL yet, it is a good idea to take advantage of the fact that work at this age is fun (or at least it can be if presented in the right way). In her book the Continuum Concept , Jean Liedoff proposes the idea that toddlers will both feel safer and learn how to live by watching a caretaker that is actively engaged in her work: “because a toddler wants to learn what his people do, he expects to be able to center his attention on an adult who is centered on her own business.” This is actually an interesting factor when it comes to choosing the right place to live. As a long-term traveler I have come to understand some of the perks to expat life which are highly dependent on the inequities of world economies and societies. The most affordable places for us to live are also places that we could afford household help and where household help is a standard part of local culture. While this is terrific for a single mom trying to make it in this world, I also wonder: if my son is raised with someone else always cooking and cleaning for us will he ever learn to cook and clean for himself? I then wonder why is it so important to me that he learn to cook and clean for himself if he doesn’t have to?
My mother once told me something that her mother had told to her which is “never learn how to do something that you don’t want to get stuck doing for the rest of your life.” It was a wise piece of advice. However there is another side to that coin: if you don’t learn how to do it yourself you may end up dependent on someone else to get it done. While I don’t think its reasonable that EVERYONE needs to do EVERYTHING, since some people are just plain better at some things than others, and/or they need a job, I do believe that basic self-reliance is important. Since I will be modeling habits for my son during his early years while also attempting to also find enough time to play and work, maybe nice balance between self-reliance and healthy assistance would be a good idea.