Or…has our epic decision to sell up, escape the rat race and sail away provided opportunities for me to help my daughter develop strong character traits such as adaptability, Conscientiousness, cooperation, kindness and respectability?
More on that to come, but first let me tell you about my weird morning…
An engine started up but it wasn’t a car or a boat. I then felt the boat vibrate violently. Half asleep, I looked around our cabin trying to determine the time – it was gray and raining so it could be 7am or perhaps 10am.
The boat started to shake while making a terrible creaking sound…
…and then I heard lots of yelling – I could make out Greek, Italian and English all being banded about.
What the heck is going on? Where is my husband? Is my daughter okay? Why is our boat making such terrible sounds? Where am I?
I jumped out of bed, threw some day clothes on and popped my head out into the cockpit. The first thing I could see was loads of other boats but the boats were not in the water – they were on land hoisted above scaffolding!
That’s when I remembered that our boat is on the hard in Preveza, Greece and we’re having a major refit
The engine I heard was the crane and the movement was to replace the crane with scaffolding – our team temporarily put the boat in a crane so to antifoul the areas underneath the scaffolding holders and to install the serviced rudder.
The day before my dramatic wake-up alarm I arrived in Greece with my daughter after a five week visit to the States
Being back on the boat provided an instant feel of being at home, however the absence of water below the hull was weird. I’m not sure if you’ve ever stayed on a boat that’s not in the water?! It’s just not right.
Being exhausted after days of travel and a seven-hour time difference, I fell asleep and enjoyed the kind of rest you get only when you’re in your own bed. It was bliss.
In the morning, however, my husband wanted to give me as much opportunity to sleep as possible so he left me in bed rather than warning me about the crane. I’m still not sure if I’m happy about his decision or annoyed?!
Imagine living in a house for five weeks and then not only moving onto a boat, but moving onto a boat that’s not in it’s natural marine environment. And then imagine hearing and feeling noises/movements that are rarely associated with boating!
All that being noted, I must say that it’s great to be back on the boat – whether it’s in the water or not
It’s been a couple hours since my crazy awakening so I’m feeling less annoyed with hubby
Anyway, for over a month, my daughter and I spent time with my family in North Carolina. My mom, stepfather, brother and his family all live in the Raleigh –Durham area so while my husband managed the refit, us girlies spent time on land enjoying long hot showers, eating cheeseburgers and hot dogs in addition to spending as much quality time with our family as possible.
My daughter, Sienna, was offered a space at her six-year old cousins pre-school, so for a month she enjoyed her first taste of the American school system. The transition from her one-room 10-pupil class in Italy (Italian speaking only) to the massive school (hundreds of children) with state-of-art outdoor playground must have been an interesting one.
I was amazed to hear my daughter’s accent change from British to American so quickly!
Within days, instead of saying ‘water’ she was saying ‘waaader’ and rather than ‘lift’ it quickly became an ‘elevator.’
And instead of everything being ‘lovely’, life simply became ‘awesome’
As if Sienna had lived in America her whole life, she joined in with the neighbor kids running around the neighborhood, made new friends at school and acted like any other ‘normal’ child.
The biggest issue I faced was Sienna’s dislike for her baby cousin, Emma
For some reason, Sienna avoided my 18 month-old niece like the plague. Sienna announced, ‘I don’t like babies,’ and feeling embarrassed I didn’t know how to deal with such negativity. She ignored her cousin and at times I saw her push the baby aside. I couldn’t understand why she felt so strongly about babies – aren’t little girls suppose to love babies?!
Eventually I realized that Sienna was jealous
Instead of me being available all the time, there was someone else that took precedence over my little princess Sienna. Although I felt uncomfortable with her negativity I could see that Sienna and I were learning a massive lesson.
Through the course of our stay with my brother and family, Sienna had to learn how to not only share toys with her six year old and 18 month cousins but to also share me. There were times when she asked if I loved her more than her cousins and at one point, she threw a fit because I couldn’t leave the baby unattended to play with her.
At first I thought that all our time together on the boat had created a self-important, attention-seeking monster but then I realized that she’s just a child and it’s my job to help her learn a life lesson.
By the time our stay came to a conclusion, Sienna was a best friend with baby Emma
She learned how to share my time and enjoy baby playtime. The two girls took baths together, had tea parties and loved to chase each other around the house. Sienna also learned how to take responsibility for a younger child – too look out for the baby.
One of my worries about having an only child AND sailing around the world while homeschooling our daughter has been about socialabilty. When we started off I was terribly worried about my daughter making friends – or worse, even finding friends to play with in the first place.
My fear about Sienna’s socialabilty skills is gone
Sienna makes friends with everyone. She loves to take part in any activity and she eagerly goes up to children of any age and finds a way to get involved. Furthermore, since we started our epic sailing adventure over a year ago, we have yet to go more than a few days without finding new friends for Sienna to play with. (As a side note, before we left Sienna, at age 3 1/2 was very shy – that’s all changed now)
My fear about Sienna being an only child has reduced
No parent what’s their child to be a spoiled brat! Not only is Sienna an only child, but she’s with us all the time. I’ve been very concerned that she gets too much attention – when you live on a boat, you’re never very far if someone wants to find you!
Although I enforce ‘me-time’ by telling Sienna I can’t play and that it’s important for me to work, or take a nap or spend time with daddy, I’m still physically present if there’s ever an issue. Furthermore, she’s the only child – she’s the only one that get’s my undivided attention.
Our time at my brother’s house forced a great lesson upon us
Sienna learned that my love is always present even if I’m not. For me, the situation reinforced that children are quick learners – watching Sienna learn to share, reduce her expectations for me to physically be present all the time, and take responsibility for a younger family member was great to see unfold.
It’s been great to see Sienna make new friends so easily and now, after living through an episode with the green-eye’d monster, it’s been another fear reducer. Yes, I was horrified to see my daughter act so negatively towards her baby cousin but on the flip side I’m now very proud to see the transition that transpired.
So what does that have to do with my decision to say ‘screw-it’ to the rat-race in the hopes to find more fulfillment while sailing on the seas with my family? How is my plan to completely uproot my family in search of the most fulfilling life (for me and my family) going?
Hmmmm…let me start off with this…
I have loads of fears. I’m afraid of everything. Seriously, if you realized what a chicken I am about life you’d be very surprised. I’m scared of anything new – anything!
Concerning Sienna, aside from health and homeschooling I was very concerned about her socialabilty and overall character growth. Regarding socialabilty, as I’ve already mentioned, that fear is totally gone. My little 5 year old can talk to any person, any age, any race and in more languages than most – definitely in more languages than I can speak in!
I’m going to get a bit philosophical now
Regarding character traits such as kindness – well…I feel like life is providing me with opportunities to help mold Sienna’s character regardless as to our alternative lifestyle. I was worried about her becoming too dependent on me – becoming too accustomed to having all my attention. And what do you know, life throws up a blip (boat needing repairs and maintenance – hubby and I didn’t realize the amount of work needed), I arrange plans and “bam”, an opportunity comes along for me to teach Sienna about love, sharing, kindness, and so forth.
No, the lesson wasn’t learned on the boat, but it was learned nevertheless. By saying ‘screw-it,’ let’s go against the norm and live a life more in tune with what we think will bring us fulfillment we’re still traveling upon life’s path just as a ‘normal’ family would.
For some reason I thought our decision to sell up and sail away might provide problems for my daughter, but I’m now realising we’re going through the same things every other parent goes through.
Perhaps the key, whether you’re on land or water, is to be conscious of your fears – to be conscious of what you want to achieve – and then let life help you overcome them? Who knows?
All I can say is that I can scratch off one more fear on my fear board!
The more I look back upon our decision to take a massive risk and go out into the unknown, the more I feel that we get rewarded. Yes, life is scary for me…but life is also fulfilling. All my fears are right out in the open and although it’s hard to live through some things, like watching your child be mean to a baby, it’s allowing me to process and ultimately overcome my worries.
Because the world that I occupy is so unknown…because I am so far out of my comfort zone I feel as if my worries are thrown at me and I’m simply having to deal with them. I can’t hide from them at my 9 – 5 job like I did in the past.
I wonder if I’ll be fearless in ten years by the age of 50? (hehehehehe)
So, what’s next?
Well…the boat is on its final stages. The last update is that we’ll be in the water in two days! We still have new engine feet to install, some windows to be finished (the metal started to bubble up so it’s been sanded back and repainted) and the final adjustments to the rigging. But…the antifouling is done, both engines are completely in tip-top shape, new sails, new rigging, new running rigging, new engine bay insulation on all the walls, rudder serviced, bow thruster serviced, all the winches serviced…(the list goes on and on).
And it looks like we’ll be sailing to Sicily first to pick up some things we’ve had shipped there and then off to Malta. After that, we’re heading north and west…we have the Atlantic to cross this year – yikes!
Perhaps I can have a bit of a break from learning life’s lessons and just enjoy a nice long pleasant sail on the seas?!