Living Near the Arctic Circle is Difficult, but So is Parenting.

Last night while sleeping, my son puked on my daughter’s head.

It wasn’t personal, she just happened to be lying next to him when his stomach bug kicked in.  So at three in the morning, my girl is sobbing over the bathroom sink while I’m holding her little hand and my wife is rinsing out her clotted hair with warm water.  Meanwhile my son had fallen back asleep, unaware that he had just ruined apples and Nutella for the rest of us forever.

Parenting is a difficult lifestyle.

Not a physically demanding one like the Arctic Circle lifestyle on Netflix’s Life Below Zero, but one that requires an equal amount of dedication and persistence.  Surviving in sub-zero temperatures out in the snowy wild might be tougher on the body than parenting, but both styles of living demand you make peace with some inevitable difficulties.

Like unknown threats from the wild, for instance.

As a parent, I may not have to worry about opening the door of the game hunting lodge I run and discovering a bear like Kavik Sue does in episode 2, but that doesn’t mean I don’t experience something similar.  Try opening the top of a sippy-cup that’s been lost in the couch cushions for a week.  If I had to choose between facing a grizzly or the smell of chunky, week-old milk, I might opt for the quicker death.

Both lifestyles demand painful and selfless financial sacrifice.

Near the Arctic Circle when Alaskan Andy Bassich realizes that he’s run out of food for the sled dogs that are essential to his survival, he has no choice but to use money meant for other things to resupply.

We parents are no strangers to such sacrifices.

When the clothes dryer that’s essential to my family’s survival crapped out, I had no choice but to use my birthday money to replace it.  Nothing I could have bought for myself with that cash would have been more important than not having to haul loads of wet clothing to the laundry mat every week.

Both lifestyles demand a break from the norm.

Young Arctic hunter and survivalist Erik Salitan shoots two foxes and a couple of ptarmigans for supper.  After skinning and cooking the birds, he sits down to eat and says, “I’m not sure what the typical 29-year-old is doing on a Saturday night, but this is what I’m doing.”

Parents can totally relate.

In fact, I’ve stood in the middle of some strange five-year-old’s birthday party pulling the piñata rope while eating a cupcake-on-a-stick and thought, “I’m not sure what the typical 52-year-old is doing on a Saturday afternoon, but this is what I’m doing.”

With both lifestyles, you never know what the new day will bring.

Running out of fuel or having the cold jam your weapon happens near the Arctic Circle, but in order to survive in that part of the world, unfortunate surprises like these can’t keep you from getting the job done.  They must accept the bad with the good parts of that way of living.

Same with parenting.

The moment you wake up in the morning, you have no idea if your kid is going to wet their pants that day or come home from school with a case of head lice.  Even if both happen, though, a good parent grabs the wet wipes and the tiny comb and takes care of business because they’ve accepted the fact that their way of living isn’t all honors ceremonies and refrigerator drawings.

Parenting is a difficult lifestyle.

Whether you challenge yourself by living an on-the-edge survivalist life that involves constant battles with natural forces, or you decide to go the easy route and live near the Arctic Circle, it’s essential to make peace with your lifestyle choice.

Be passionately great at living.

Who cares what everyone else is doing – this is what you’re doing.  Make peace with the fact that difficulties will inevitably arise during your daily life.  No matter who you are or how you live, someone is always going to puke on someone else’s head, metaphorically or, as in my case, literally.

The goal is to keep it from ruining your apples and Nutella.

  • Mike Lukas


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