Recently I spent time in Tasmania with the oldest two, Sebastian and Olivia. We stayed in the Huon Valley with some very generous friends. The weekend was spent exploring and admiring the amazing seemingly untouched beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness, playing in the last of the winter snow on Mt Hartz, fishing for Australian Salmon in the pristine and tranquil Huon River, and of course, soaking up the friendship and abundant hospitality of our friends.
It’s the first time I have taken the older two on a trip with just me. Normally, all the kids go on school holiday trips to the country with Michelle while I work or one of us goes to various places to visit old friends while the other one holds the fort. This weekend, however, we split the family, which has both good and bad sides.
For the good side, I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing in the children’s excitement of air travel, going on holiday and spending some pretty exclusive time with their Dad. The time we’ve had has also allowed me to sit back and enjoy the young man and woman they are growing to be, to watch how they interact with both children their own age, adult friends of the family, and strangers we have encountered.
With a busy life running a business and providing for the family, these day to day observations are at best not given the opportunity to register and sink in, or at worst, are not experienced at all.
The negative side includes the potential burden this trip places on Michelle and the rest of the family, the glaringly obvious point that I simply have not spent enough time with all of my beautiful children, and, of course, the lost opportunity to share this experience with all of the family.
Since our experience of moving to Perth and back again, we have learnt that our family is best managed, enjoyed and developed when we operate as one, and move in the same direction. This doesn’t always mean doing exactly the same thing, but often it does.
A couple of phone calls made and pictures sent to Michelle and the rest the clan back in Melbourne, revealed how much some of the children both missed us and felt disappointed that they had not experienced snow four the first time.
I guess the overriding ‘take-away’ from this trip has been the most fundamental need to prioritise time with each child. Olivia and Sebastian have each sacrificed a lot in us having a large family. I suspect though, that they would not be able to articulate this. In truth, they may not even think they have sacrificed anything. Nevertheless, I feel a tremendous sense of appreciation for the young adults they are growing up to be, and a greater sense of burden that they leave their childhood knowing and being known, loving and being loved by their father. The same rings true for all of my children.