Moving onto our boat has been the most incredible, unexpected blessing to ever happen to our family! This year, I’ve learned many precious life lessons that have molded me into a new woman, wife and mom.
At the beginning of the year, when we were told our rent would unexpectedly increase drastically the following month, Ryan and I had a choice to make. Like a monkey holding onto a caged banana, we could refuse to let go and continue to be chained to “stuff” we’ve accumulated for 14 years, or we could let go of the banana, raising our hands and eyes to God, trusting and accepting whatever He had in store for us. We chose to let go of our stuff and trust that God was more valuable than anything we surrendered. Living obediently, God has blessed us richly with countless memories this year because we trusted Him and followed Him into this adventure!
“If God has called you to motherhood, he knows you won’t start out anywhere near perfect. Remember, he doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. So your motherhood journey is bound to be filled with growth and change, not just on your kid’s part but on yours. As you come across new bits and pieces of information that inspire you to do things differently, be careful not to beat up on yourself for any past mistakes, but simply acknowledge them, giving thanks for the opportunity to change.”
~ The Mommy Manual by Barbara Curtis
When I awake in my sleeping bag, on our inflatable bed, atop the kitchen table, I am reminded, “What kind of mom do I want to be for my children? What attitude am I choosing to model for them?” That simple question pierces me to the core and often makes me pause to consider my attitude in the myriad of daily situations. The mother figure who inspires me the most is Ma Ingalls from Little House of the Prairie. With such loving kindness and tenderness she gracefully accepted each difficult challenge of their adventurous life. She made normal life fun and memorable for her children, while also firmly molding the character they would become as adults. As I wash my dishes and walk to the laundry-mat carrying our dirty clothes, I think of her selflessly serving and taking care of her family, which inspires me to do likewise.
In November, when the wind blew and the rain poured, chilling the temperature for the season, I thought about the families aboard the Mayflower. I thought about their cramped living conditions. The rock and roll of the boat without seeing the horizon line through any windows. Storms they faced which toppled their world and probably terrified them. And finally, upon reaching Plymouth, New England’s frigidly harsh winter welcomed them. Through it all, their faith in God’s calling and God’s ultimate goodness, was worth their ultimate surrender and sacrifice. Thinking about the brave women of old times, inspires me to become a brave woman in this current time. I have so much to be thankful for.
Without going into any dismal detail, I did not grow up boating on the water, camping in the forest, or doing much of anything risky or adventurous outdoors. So, I write my ponderings, because these are the courageous women that continually challenge me to be gallant, embracing my new aquatic life outside my comfort zone where risk and adventure reside. I have nothing to lose when I am challenged to learn something new, but everything could be lost if I chose to give up, deeming it too hard or too much a sacrifice to live outside my comfort zone. The risk is worth its reward.
A testament we are right where God wants us, is our four children have wholeheartedly embraced this boating life alongside Ryan and I.
“Children are born imitators. God made them that way for a reason. He wants them to model themselves after their parents – the simplest and surest way to build a foundation. What an awesome responsibility for us! We can’t ask our children to stop imitating; instead, we can become better role models.”
~ The Mommy Manual by Barbara Curtis
They are learning the art of teamwork and are beginning to understand that many hands make light work. Some of the responsibilities they are learning include docking the boat, coil the lines, vacuum, dust, and scrub the inside and out. They walk with me to do laundry. Depending upon my patience, they are learning to cook meals, bake cookies, and wash dishes. Ryan and I raise them with the vision of what we think they need to know when they are off on their own one day. All this training is preparing them to be active, responsible participants for our great sailing adventure. Our goal year to embark is 2020!! More on that coming soon!
One overlooked part of live aboard life, is public restrooms are our second “home” bathroom. I know cleaning bathrooms is a dirty job that no one wants to do, let alone publicly used ones, but whenever we can, we try to tell custodians “Thank you so very much for cleaning the restrooms for us! Our family really, really appreciates it!!”
Live aboard life has definitely brought us closer as a family. With not many boat kids in the marina, our children are each other’s playmates. Even being constant companions, they simply love being together…a mother’s prayer answered and dream come true!! What do they do to keep themselves entertained? School keeps us on a fairly regular routine. The girls cherish their kindles, and Caleb, his beloved board books. Our kids love to doodle, draw and color. Games come and go as we have space. Their imaginations are limitless! Most of the time the four of them play with Caleb’s cars. Using books as tepees or houses, their imaginative stories become quite elaborate! Religiously obeying our life-jacket rule whenever they’re on the dock, they fish for fingerlings (usually with a bent safety-pin for a hook) or catch things with their creature catchers. Sidewalk chalk brings us back to neighborhood days and the kids have fun creating beautiful drawings. Never once have they complained about our lack of space or toys available. Here are some of the many wonderful memories we’ve created this year!
With all the blessings, pondering, and wonderful-ness I’ve shared, there are still days when I miss…space and machines to help me accomplish my work. Then I think of this quote from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
“But now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way, before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet with him; his name is Apollyon (the destroyer; the angel of the bottomless pit; Abandon. Rev. 9:11). Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again, that he had no armor for his back, and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts; therefore he resolved to venture, and stand his ground. For, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.”
~ John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
2017 has been an incredible year. I would not have guessed living on a boat would have been my story, but I’m so glad it is! We have many different kinds of days aboard. Chore days, school days, work days, rainy windy cozy days, cruising days, fun sunny play outside days, warm beach days, movie days, quiet days. No matter what kind of day it is, our family, all six of us, choose this adventure. Because we said “yes”, our normal days have become extraordinary days! We look forward with great anticipation to 2018 as we continue this journey!