I was disappointed this week when Tom West told a story about his childhood without headlining himself in 3rd person, I so enjoyed fictionalizing him. Nonetheless, Tom’s West Words this week offered readers a look at his childhood and games he and his friends played. In his article Tom wrote the following:

Times are different now. Childhoods are more programmed, more organized activities are available, and, even if children have free time, most of them can easily entertain themselves with video games or on the Internet. It makes me wonder, however, if these kids will feel the same sort of nostalgia about their neighborhood group.

I have to admit that I’m not convinced that times are so different or that children are so different. I often wonder if the changes we see in children and childhood don’t more aptly reflect changes in parenting and parenthood.

In many respects I’ve raised 2 families, my son’s were born almost a decade before their sister. From the time the boys were small through their middle school years, I was a single parent who worked a demanding job putting in long hours. As they grew older I was keenly aware of the price my children paid for my away time.  So as my daughter grew older I made some very different decisions, I bypassed the higher paying jobs and settled on less money in exchange for truly reclaiming my life with my family. 

In order to live off less income it was necessary to move to an area where rent was less expensive, which is how I came to settle here. It was difficult giving up the polished professional mantra because my identity was wrapped up in what I earned, the clothes I could afford. For the first year I felt lost and had to find new reasons to value myself.  I had to figure out who I was as opposed to what I was as a professional.

Despite my reduced earning, I’ve been available and home. Our summer evenings have been spent roasting marshmallows with my daughter and her friends playing Moonlight Starlight, hide and seek in the dark and flashlight tag.

It seems that my children’s lives were programmed when my life was programmed. I’ve given up many comforts, but I’ve had the privilege of watching at least one of my children grow up in a way that I only wish I could have shared with her siblings. Back then I had a new car, but I wasn’t there in a way I wish I had been.

Yes, we have less and yes, we have so much more.

Maybe times aren’t different, maybe priorities have changed.

Brooke Trout