I loved my childhood. While nothing in this world is ever perfect, I feel as though my childhood was as close as it could be. I grew up in the rolling hills of southeastern Montana. I learned to ride not long after I learned to walk, and in addition to my parents and older brother, my family included horses, cows, dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, and a mean rabbit named Tanya.
My brother was my best friend, and together we had incredible adventures. From Cowboys and Indians to Lewis and Clark to Princess Leia and Han Solo, our imaginations took us to far away places. We built forts. We dug tunnels. We climbed trees. We caught tadpoles. We built igloos. We had snowball fights. We constructed elaborate obstacle courses and we rode our bikes over ridiculous jumps. We went sledding down hills that were too steep and we went swimming in water that was too cold.
We didn’t have TV for most of my childhood, and we never had video games. Instead, we played outside or read books. We loved the “bookmobile” that came to the closest middle-of-nowhere small town and let us stock up on library books every other Wednesday afternoon. We eagerly looked forward to Sundays – our “going to church and the grocery store” days. As my parents navigated our thirty-mile dirt and gravel driveway, we would all sing along to a tape of Christian music or listen to an audiobook. Once we made it to the highway, we’d start the alphabet game, claiming letters off of the scarce billboards and road signs between our mailbox and the city sixty miles away. My parents never complained about the four-hour round trip, and so neither did we.
My childhood wasn’t perfect, but it was wonderful, and I will cherish it forever.
Lately I’ve found myself thinking a lot about what my kids’ childhoods will be like. While I don’t have any children yet, I eagerly look forward to the day that I do, and I’ve begun to wonder about what our world will look like through their eyes.
Geoff and I are at that age where the bulk of our friends either have small children already or are about to produce some. So as conversations about children inevitably pop up, my thoughts turn to what life will be like for my own kids someday.
It only recently occurred to me that we may raise our kids in the city. I hadn’t ever thought about that before. Having grown up on a ranch and then living mostly in small towns up until the last year, I never considered the possibility of my kids growing up in a large city.
Because my own childhood was so good, it’s hard for me to think about my kids not getting that kind of experience. I struggle with the idea of raising them in the city. But I’m slowly getting to the point of wrapping my mind around the truth that my kids can have incredible childhoods wherever we end up.
Even as I come to terms with the idea of maybe raising my kids within the brick, steel and cement world of the city instead of the wide open spaces I fell in love with as a child, I still wonder about the rest of it. I wonder about the evolving American culture our kids will grow up in.
While I believe my children will be able to thrive no matter the where, I wonder about the when. Times have changed so much since I was a child. My generation of new parents has a whole new crop of worries to deal with.
Since this post is getting long, I’ll wait until Monday to continue. But stay tuned. I want to talk about this.