Pictured: Epperson family in Voyageurs National Park
By Abigail Epperson
It’s New Year’s Eve. One year is on its way out and another is knocking at our door, and, as I do every year, I find myself reflecting on the days that have passed and excited for the days to come. January is a time of rebirth, a chance to start fresh and build on the lessons learned from the previous year. All things are possible on January 1st.
2017 was a year of many firsts for the Our Wandering Family crew. We visited 11 National Park Service parks/sites, the boys completed 10 Junior Ranger programs, Jason and I launched the travel website RV Miles along with the RV Miles podcast, and we continued to grow and build our performing arts publication, PerformInk, in both Chicago and Kansas City, writing hundreds of articles celebrating the arts, and together with a team of reviewers, editing and reviewing over 300 shows.
2017 was exhausting and exhilarating. We reinvented our family unit in 2017. Shedding off the last pieces of the sticks and bricks life we’d known in Chicago and then reconstructing what stability and familiarity look like on the road. It wasn’t easy and I don’t think I can confidently say we’ve figured it out yet. We are often homesick for friends in Chicago and I often miss the homeschool community there. It can be tough to be away from Chicago or Kansas City and still run businesses in those cities. However, we manage. We always do. And sometimes we manage in spectacularly wonderful ways and life reaffirms that we are exactly where we’re meant to be. Even in the hardest moments, life finds a way.
As part of our 2017 reflection, we put together a list of some of our favorite destinations and talked about our hopes for the RV industry in 2018, but as I look towards this new year, the goals for our family go beyond that of a “top 10” list or a 45-minute podcast. They are wide and deep, big and small. They are gloriously high and realistically grounded. We will struggle, we will have moments when we don’t function at our best, but we will always have each other. Even on our darkest days, our love is as just as deep as it is on our brightest. Our love for this lifestyle will be unyielding and our desire to explore every aspect of our professional lives in a way that is progressive, thought-provoking and respectful, will never cease. I hope Jason and I can continue to be the parents our boys need, the parents that we desire to be, as well as stronger partners and friends to one another.
I could wax on and reflect in detail about our 2017 travels, but that’s never really been my end-of-year style. I don’t remember places in detail, so much as I remember the way those places made me feel, the laughter or tears that were shed, the milestones or simplicity achieved. Those are the yearly details that live in my mind and in my heart. Some may say this is called “mom brain” since on my best days I barely connect that right name to the right kid, but whatever it is, I like to reflect on those feelings and then ask myself what was it about one year that I’d like to carry into the next? What was missing?
When I think in those terms, what I come back to time and time again, year after year, is wanting more neutral in our lives. When you live a location independent life, it’s hard to just be neutral. I want to ride that fine line between constant exhilaration and constant frustration. I want more days that go by without anything major happening. You laugh because I’m a parent of young children, I totally get that, plus it’s no real secret that our family has had a lot of ups and downs in life, both prior to and after moving into Wander Bus, so I have set the bar high, I know. However, we are overdue for neutral days and as we start year two of being a full-time family, I think we’ll get our groove more often than not and see more neutral, or as our kids call them “boring” days to come.
But I know 2018 will continue to see a lot of firsts for our family, especially as our boys grow and push their boundaries and explore their independence. Our eldest will be 11 this year and is knocking on the door of his teenage years, a fact that I just can’t wrap my head around. Jason and I have a lot of plans for both our personal and professional lives, and because we aren’t busy enough, we’ll be adding another podcast into the mix and a vlog, but that’s a story for another time.
Regardless, of what the year brings, we’ll face it together and with the support of family, friends, and fellow wanderers (like you), 2018 promises to be neutral and amazing.
Happy New Year!