If one of my jobs as a mother is to support and nurture the emotional well-being and development of my children, then moving to Mexico has been one great step towards that endeavor.
In November of 2012, we sold, donated and discarded the majority of our physical possessions, packed the remaining essentials into a 14-foot aluminum boat and immigrated from Southern California to Mainland Mexico with our eight-year-old twins and 90-pound chocolate lab.
My husband had recently retired from firefighting and we wanted to show our children a life outside of the States. Mexico had long been a cherished place of family adventure and connection and we were ready to have that as our norm and not just a reality relegated to vacations only.
Within three months of arriving to the small jungle town of San Pancho, Nayarit, we became permanent residents and in a few years time we will apply for our Mexican citizenship.
We have spent the past three and a half years decompressing, reconnecting and carving out new lives -- immersing ourselves in sunsets and surfing expeditions, horseback riding through high desert plains, soaking in hot thermal pools, climbing pyramids, and imbibing our senses in the rich cultural heritage of of a country that reveres the family unit.
We have gone from mind-numbing traffic on five-lane freeways to commuting on dirt jungle roads and sixteenth-century cobblestone streets where there is no shortage of stimulus to engage our minds and activate our senses.
Our children are bilingual and bicultural and see a world without borders. They have witnessed their parents reinvent themselves from teacher and firefighter, to writer and photovoltaic designer. They see a life without limits, that anything is possible, that dreams do come true, that shaping one's own way in this world is not just possible, but doable.
Our children see that it is not only okay, but of great value to slow down and pay attention to the details, to relish and thrive in the here and now, to be alive and awake to the magic of the moment... to value conversation and interaction that does not involve tuning the world out behind a computer screen.
We have not traded in some "American Dream" for a second-hand version of a life. We are not living in Mexico by default, but by choice.
And we are not so naive as to not see -- as we have lived them first hand -- the struggles and challenges and hard edges of living here. In many regards, Mexico is like the Wild West. It is not for the fainthearted or weak of constitution.
Our kids are independent, artistic, thoughtful, perceptive, tuned-in. They have two hands-on, present parents who are no longer running the rat race, struggling to keep our financial heads above water. We can afford housing, food and medical care. I have recently had two major, life-saving surgeries in Central Mexico, with top notch, patient-centered care. My husband and my son's food allergies have lessened.
If our contribution to the good of this world is raising decent, compassionate, wise, strong-willed children, then things are looking pretty good. Moving to Mexico has played a huge part in our parenting success.
If you are feeling courageous and up for an unforgettable life adventure, perhaps you too are ready to mix it up and get out of your comfort zone -- to see what's out there waiting to awaken your senses, shake you upside down, and see what you're really made of.
You just might surprise yourself.