How Costa Rica has influenced my parenting.

When we decided to come to Costa Rica I thought it would be such a great experience for the twins. They would learn another language, play outdoors, see wildlife in a natural environment, be water babies and become the youngest gringo surf champions on the coast. We’re still working on that last point.

We chose to live outside of North America because we were tired of feeling like a cog in the wheel when it came to our own lives and felt it would be a good experience to expose our kids to something different.

What I didn’t know was how it would affect me.  I didn’t realize this trip would give me the space to become the kind of mother I wanted to be.  Over the last 1.5 years I’ve learned to focus less on the current parenting issues (conflicting methods, health debates, developmental comparisons, etc) and instead focus on what the twins really need.

I have two kids. They are different. I can’t commit to one technique and force it upon both of them – it always fails, I am always struggling and when I finally come out from the fight I am not even sure why I held on for so long.

The Pura Vida lifestyle balances the chaos of raising twins and starting/running our own business.  Things are still crazy, they are still hectic, I am still stressed – but I do not have the added pressure of society expecting me to BE a certain way – follow a certain trend – fall into a certain category or honestly give a shit if I’m “parenting right”

I didn’t realize how lucky I was to get to develop over the last 1.5 years influenced by a culture that values kids as equals and allows parents to continue to be people.  A culture that says “Hola” to each other and truly believes in community.  This has allowed me to appreciate things “as they are” and not over-think my parenting.

I am regularly told how great the twins are.  They are polite and friendly, they are happy and playful, they eat almost everything we put in front of them and they listen (as much as can be expected from 2.5 year olds).   They can be little jerks sometimes too, don’t get me wrong.  I haven’t figured out the ultimate parenting secret to great kids.. they are kids… they drive me crazy almost every day – but replacing thoughts like “is this okay” and “where did I go wrong” with “it is what it is/Pura Vida” and “one day at a time/Pura Vida” seems to have us on the right track.

Additionally, I am complimented on the job I am doing as their mother.  I am told that my tone is positive but not passive.  That I am consistent and encouraging while firm and that it is clear I enjoy being around my kids and that they enjoy being around me.  I’m not saying this to be boastful but more as a confirmation that I not only feel living down here has affected me positively, I’m actually being told it has.

Of course I still find it stressful.  I am overwhelmed daily and can’t believe I have twins going through the exact same thing in different ways and BOTH needing me to have the answers…

OH.GOD.I.AM.SO.TIRED…

but I have found no better way to learn about myself then by traveling.  When I backpacked solo through Europe in my early 20’s, I discovered how I wanted to be in the world. When J and I first started traveling together we had to compromise and adapt to each of our needs. Spending time in between Costa Rica and Canada over the last two years has shown me that things are never as scary as you think they will be; not having twins, not moving your family to another country, not even getting Dengue fever.  I’m sure I’ll forget, and there will come other life lessons to remind me, but for now I can see (and feel) the power of letting things BE what they are and I know I have this experience to thank for it.

 

what it should be

 

 

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9 thoughts on “How Costa Rica has influenced my parenting.

  1. Reading your newest entry made me reflect upon how your idea of parenting may reflect parenting norms of a time that wasn’t so long ago. These norms of the 70s and 80s (ok, I am aging myself), weren’t really norms; things just “were”. Kids stayed outside until the streetlights went on. Kids initiated their own play, and didn’t have parents to arrange plays dates for them. Parenting became a judgey, skill-based crash course when the Internet became more readily available. I am not one to say that I don’t do any of the above-mentioned “how to be a better parent” research and “social convening” for my daughters. I do. But, I would like to take on your outlook, Kendahl; I admire it. Tomorrow, and everyday, I will try to reflect upon your words when I greet my daughters good morning.

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    • Aw thanks Lisa. I completely agree with having too much information available to us via the Internet. Instead of it educating us, it tends to make us more confused as we try to figure out the BEST way to handle something. It’s hard to be okay with the idea that there is no BEST way. There is only YOUR way. How terrifying and yet totally empowering. 🙂

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