Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wisdom from the Aged

    Our "part-time work" / "full-time stay-at-home parent" setup closely resembles a life of early retirement.  We spend the majority of our time home with the kids and only a small portion (about 10%) at work.  This work pace seems to be fairly similar to what many traditional retirees do as well, though they often work to keep themselves busy and for the social aspect as much as they do for an income.  Our couple of months in the RV world has made clear one thing – it’s mostly retirees.  [No, I’m not surprised by this.]  Since retirees are generally “retirement age” (65 and up), we find ourselves surrounded mostly by a generation twice our age or more.  And while more families with young kids might be fun, there is value to always having someone with wisdom in my midst.  These older RV’ers never hesitate to share their opinion, and considering their decades of life lessons, I welcome it.

Recently a couple of potential career opportunities have passed my way.  Both would have paid well, and I would have been reasonably satisfied in the particular fields of work.  When I see these opportunities, part of the old me wakes up in an attempt to derail the current plan.  “An opportunity like this may never come again!  Six figures – you can’t pass that up!  How long can you even go on like this anyhow?  Wouldn’t you be happier with more money?”  On and on these thoughts bombard me.  And then a little gem of wisdom is thrown my way.

While leaving the campground chapel in Tampa an older gentleman says to me after observing the boys and I digging in the sand parking lot with sticks:
“Do you know how old my son is?  He turned 40 last week, and it went by in a flash.  Cherish these moments.”

That short comment was enough to remind me why I’m doing this.  Why I’m choosing a life of lower income and potentially extending my working years later in life for time home with the kids now.

Another older man, driving his truck by our campsite as I pack up the truck for another day’s drive:
“Make the best of your time with them.  They grow up so fast.”

The wonderful retired couple staying in an Airstream next to us in the Orlando area:
“Do you mind if I tell you what I think?  Not that you should care what I think, but I’m going to tell you anyways.  I think what you are doing with these boys is wonderful.  Don’t change a thing.”

And of course there is the frequent, “Oh, what a precious age!  They grow up so fast” that is so often heard when I’m out with Baby A.  In fact, not once has anyone suggested that I’ve got my priorities backwards, despite my occasional thoughts that may lead me to believe otherwise.

It seems like on a daily basis, the words from these wise old neighbors – those who have lived full lives – reaffirm my decision to make the most of my time with my children while they are still young.  Brynn and I have been blessed with the ability to both be home with the kids full-time.  I can’t imagine giving that up so long as I have the option.

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