From the cradle to the grave is a term that we understand to mean: throughout our lives; from beginning to end. We all have dreams and ideas of how life will unfold and what the typical life journey should look like. Unfortunately, the road is not clearly marked and is rarely even paved!
We start school at the ripe-old age of 5 and set our sights on getting through school so we can be “free” from the school routines, homework and exams that get in the way of our living. Then we are abruptly cast into the work force to find our wings. We navigate our careers and work to climb up ladders (to who knows where).
We opt-in to pensions plans and contribute to our retirement plans, all the while moving the goal line to whatever age our magic retirement calculator tells us is the financially best for us to shirk off the golden handcuffs of employment and embrace our retirement. Early retirement if we’re really lucky!
We may marry and raise a family and fight to keep a work-life balance, spending quality family time together during vacations that are limited in number – due to finances and our vacation calendars at work. 17 days a year. Maybe 22. Spent recovering and unwinding from the busyness of life.
And then the day finally comes that we have enough candles on our birthday cake and we are “free”. We look forward to the life we have always dreamed of. Time to travel. Time to pursue our hobbies. Time to spend with our families – who are now too busy themselves, or also caught with limited vacation time and a hamster-wheel hangover at the end of each work week.
And of course, with those golden retirement years come hip replacements, knee replacements, arthritis, heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol and the ever-dreaded C word. Some of get through easily enough. Others not so much so.
And then one day, it’s all over. The eulogy of your life is shared. The boxes of memories are packed away. The knowledge and experiences you have stored up over the years, now exists only in what you’ve written down or passed along to others. It is a sobering thought.
Trying it a Different Way
So, let’s propose trying it a different way! What does that look like? If only we knew! But seriously, there has to be a better way!
There are lots of parents who are breaking away from the pack. It is not uncommon for men to take paternity-leaves or put on the hat of stay-at-home-dad. And there are so many business women who are switching up their careers so they can be a stay-at-home-mom to their children. The questions that are often asked: why would we want someone else to raise our children? Why wouldn’t we want to spend these precious and short-lived years with them while we have the chance?
We see parents chosing to home school. Some even take leaves from their careers and start businesses that they can manage from the comfort of their own homes and accommodating their own schedules and lives. Think of the freedom that affords a family. They can now take their classroom anywhere in the world! How amazing is that?
We’ve been asking ourselves similar questions lately. Why would we want someone else to care for our parents? Why wouldn’t we want to spend these precious and numbered years with them while we have the chance?
Now, don’t ask us exactly what that looks like – because we have far from figured it out! But it’s the question that we are asking these days. What would that look like?
Can we make it happen? Do we have the energy and skill and resources to be able to even consider it? I’d say maybe to energy! Barely to skill! And unlikely to resources! At least if we want to consider pursuing our ideals of retirement when that day arrives. But honestly – we’re not sure that matters. We can’t take the green-backs with us when we go.
I’ve been reading from Ann Voskamp’s “The Broken Way” lately in my morning reflections time. She poses an interesting question:
What if the abundant life isn’t about having better stories to share but about living a story that lets others live better? What if the goal isn’t to experience more of the world but for more of the world to experience more?
Again, it turns my mind to the question of spending these golden years with our parents. While I still write my Goal Lists and Travel Lists – and hope to one day have many more memories and stories to share with others, living a life and creating a story that lets our parents live better, now, might just be the call to abundant living that we are to heed!
Advocating for the Best
Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best. (St Jerome)
Join us on our Journey
So, as we figure this out and start to pull together our own resources and support networks, we hope that you’ll join us. If you’re on a similar journey, we’d love to connect with you and learn from you, too! We don’t pretend to know where this road will take us, but we get up each new day and keep walking it out.