Saturday, July 21, 2012

Surrounded by Children

As a couple being in a long, healthy relationship – married or not – the all-important question about kids will eventually pop up. Do we want one/them or not? Living the lifestyle we live, Mark and I have postponed that question, or more importantly the answer, for years. But, the clock is ticking… I will turn 37 this year and we feel it will have to be decided soon. I have come as far as wanting to have the kid(s) before I am 40 or not at all. To us, it is the most important and difficult question of our lives and coming to a conclusion is not easy. Instead of “just” answering with yes or no, like land-based people with a steady income, job, house, family, school system, health care arrangements and routine, we have to (re)consider our whole gypsy lifestyle, finances, plans (?), living quarters, location, amenities, hygiene, and more. While mulling everything over and spending time in Belgium, we are surrounded with plenty of little ones to be inspired!

I was only in Belgium for a few days, when I found out about the “SIS-camp”, a long weekend old friends and Scouts leaders organized to spend time with their families and with each other. For me, it was the perfect time to reconnect with these great men and women and to meet their – many – kids. The weekend was fun-filled with activities, relaxation in the sun (yes, back then there was sun) and exchanging life stories. I got to play with kids of all ages, hear “different” visions about having and raising kids (nobody could live without them anymore or regrets having them) and find out whether there is a mother figure hiding inside.

The family Collaert is small. My only brother has one daughter and then it is on to cousins to hang out with kids. It is important to me to spend some time with my only niece Lena. I first saw her in 2009 when she was nine months old, then again when she was 1.5 years old and this time, she is three and a half. She is growing up fast and all I can do every year is send her a birthday card, which in itself is hard enough to do from countries like Panama, where random mail boxes are non-existent. After her shyness during our first encounter, we are best friends now and each time she visits her oma and opa, aunt Liesbet gets to play with her!

Last weekend, Mark arrived and both of us visited my good friend Rosy and her husband Peter. It has been a tradition to spend the whole weekend with them, each time we visit Belgium. This time, there was a big difference: their eight month old daughter Yanou. Like many friends before them, they “gave in” and decided to have a baby. They are travelers by heart and planned to not change their lifestyle too much. Being at their place for a couple of days, Mark and I experienced life with a baby, just as it is. Yes, husband and wife still spend quality time together and yes, they go on excursions with the whole family, but … everything takes much longer and life has changed enormously, with different routines and a whole bunch of extra responsibilities and less time for oneself. The weekend was great and interesting, but whether we want kids ourselves has to be seen in the (near) future!


Larry Jenkins said...

Hi Liesbet, Great pictures! Kids are awesome. I have 2 and 4 grandkids ( I'm still a "relatively" young 55). It is great that you and Mark are being so responsible and realistic about how children would fit into your lifestyle. I read several blogs where children of all ages (even newborns) are cruising with there parents. In most cases, it seems to go very well. I hope the Wirie is a great success for you and will provide a nice, steady income. In that scenario, maybe you can fit kids into the picture.
All the Best,
Larry Jenkins

Janine said...

It is a tough question, you know how the Jones family traveled and played before Andrew, but honestly we both couldn't even imagine life without him. He makes our family complete. It is a bit harder, but you figure it out. Travel is still possible and cruising is definitely possible, been there, done that. You adjust and you will never regret it. The love of a child is stronger than any love you will ever experience. You two would make wonderful parents.