Thoughts on doing hard things together as a family. Even if your kids are little and they won’t remember.

It is never easy to get to the Caribbean from San Francisco. But my wife and I grew up in the Virgin Islands and we insist on returning at least two or three times a year.

We’re here now – I’m writing this email from a lounge chair overlooking the bay where I grew up surfing, watching the same sunset view my wife shared with her mom time and again while growing up.

Our trip down this time was a little something extra. It included a flight diversion, missed connections, lost bags, and maybe two hours of sleep over two long days. And of course, we woke up sick the next morning. You know the drill. And yet we are already wishing we had another trip planned.

Why do we go to the trouble? Certainly for our own nostalgic reasons. But we also do it for Maggie, our 9 month old daughter. 

You might ask if Maggie even cares that we’re in the Caribbean. You might ask if she’ll even remember.

Maybe you can imagine that certain feelings – the warm ocean or the coarse coral sands – will remain with her as she grows up. But really that’s just a guess. She certainly won’t remember the details.

And yet by being here, we are building shared experience as a family. We talk about these trips after we get home. We maintain relationships with friends here on the island whom we hope to always consider family. We take pictures that will hang on our walls and will remind Maggie of the things that her mom and dad consider important.

Like staying connected to our childhood home. Like being comfortable in the ocean. Like experiencing, firsthand, different cultures and ways of being in the world.

Whether you decide to make pancakes from scratch or embark on a trip halfway across the globe, we are often faced with the choice between easy and challenging, routine and inspiring. And while we will choose the comfortable option most of the time (there is plenty of beauty in the rhythms and the ease of the everyday) sometimes there is more to be gained by doing what is hard.

So cheers to you, to families that do hard things even when their kids won’t remember. You are doing important work.

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