If I had to envy anyone else’s life, it might be my good friend Shelley. She sold me her trampoline last spring–a double layered one, with a net–as part of a larger plan: to sell not just her trampoline, but every possession that did not fit inside an RV. The RV also contains her husband and five girls. They got rid of a lot of stuff, and that is part of my envy: holy cow I have a lot of stuff. I like my stuff, and I have a hard time getting rid of it even when I know it’s cluttering my life. To have an excuse to just dump it all and start over might be very good for me.
But it’s not just the getting rid of stuff I kinda envy. This is her plan: to road school her kids while traveling around the country for two years. They have a couple of sponsors for funding, and that plus the internet means they can see the United States as their job. It’s a little bit crazy and a little bit brilliant. I have never heard of anyone brave enough to live an RV life with five young children. So far (and it’s only been a couple of months) she and her family have been to Mount Rushmore and the Laura Ingalls homestead in DeSmet, visited Martin’s Cove, and gone to the science museum in Chicago, among other things. They plan to visit everything from national parks to quirky roadside attractions. You can read about their adventures here.
When she first told me, I was blown away that anyone would dare to leave home, job, friends, ward, doctors, schools, everything, on such an adventure. I couldn’t do it, but there’s a part of me that would love to see every single place she’s going, and see them with my children too. And she’s going to do it. I love the Little House books; I read them over and over as a child. Am I ever going to trek out to DeSmet? Not likely. It’s not on my way anywhere. Just getting ready to go on vacation is enough of a headache and hassle that I can’t really fathom what it took to make this happen. And maybe that’s why I would never do this: I’m not really willing to make the sacrifices necessary to live life on the road. It’s not just about letting go of stuff, it’s about letting go of nearly everything familiar in order to experience everything new. And I’m such a creature of habit that I resist software upgrades if it changes the interface in any way. I like things to look the same, be the same.
I am not brave enough to mother on the road, to be the anchor of stability for a family in constant change. But Shelley is–I romanticize life on the road, but I know it’s got to be hard. There’s a steep price to pay for the privilege of seeing the entire country with your family. And maybe at the end of two years, she’ll say it wasn’t worth it. But reading her blog makes me wish I could come along. If you see her RV pull up in your church parking lot one Sunday, give her a hug from Emily.
Would you ever seriously consider mothering on the road? And if you were daydreaming about an extended road trip, where would you go? Do you embrace change or resist it?