Life Lessons from a Father Who Cried His First Day of RVing

I’ve always tried to not envision myself a certain way as I’ve gone through life. Thank goodness I didn’t see my future self as a filthy rich entrepreneur with six-pack abs at 37 years old. If you lift up my shirt or check my bank account, you’ll quickly see that neither of these have come true.

However, one thing I’ve always envisioned for myself was to be a father. I didn’t know how many children I would have. I didn’t know if they would be biological, adopted, si;\iipecial needs, boy, girl, nothing specific. I just knew I wanted to be a dad. I wanted someone that I could pass a piece of my heart and my inner beliefs on to.

It took us over a year, but a little over 3 years ago Marissa and I brought Hensley into this world. I had no clue what the future had for her or for me as a dad. I just knew I loved her more than I could have imagined and somehow I continue to love her more and more every day.

During the last 2 years of living in an RV, I’ve seen my little girl learn to run, speak full sentences, develop a sense of humor, and embrace the unknown. I’ve seen her count, sound out her alphabet, and sing her heart out to the the Trolls Movie soundtrack (I’m much more open to Justin Timberlake as a Troll than a teenage heart-throb in a boy band).

We’ve been through a lot as a family in an RV. Everything is closer. More personal. And we feel what each other is feeling on a regular basis. There are no rooms to retreat to. No separate TVs. Nowhere to hide. It’s all in the open.

I remember crying as I held Hensley only 1 day into our first RV purchase. The trailer had much more wrong with it than the owners led me to believe.

We’d already handed the money to the owner and pulled into our first campground 2 hours away for the night. However, pulling into the campground was about the only thing we could do with the camper.  Unknown to us, the toilet was busted. The Kitchen sink pipes were cracked. The bathroom sink was toast. The shower had water streaming out of the wrong places. The instant-hot (that’s french for very expensive) water heater literally looked like someone had put a bullet through it.

I didn’t know it yet, but all this damage was going to be $3,000 to fix. And it was my fault. I hadn’t fully inspected the trailer. I believed the people selling it to me when they told me all the water had been flushed out the winter before.

As I stood in the RV bedroom holding Hensley, emotions crept over me as I felt like I’d let my family down. Dreams of selling our house and being closer as a family had led us down this path, but unfortunately I’d blown almost all of our money on a 5,000 pound super shiny paper weight.

 

Marissa had left to take a shower in the bathhouse (since we couldn’t even use water in the camper) and it was all I could to to keep it together. Then Hensley began to cry. It was like she was telling me I was a failure. Like I’d let the family down. So I did all I knew to do. I balled my eyes out as well.

Hensley was 6 weeks old so I’m sure she only knew she’d had a long day, but her cries meant more to me than that. When Marissa walked in she she stood in the doorway in shock to see the both of us in tears. She still makes fun of me to this day that I cried over an RV, but didn’t cry at our wedding, but that’s a story for another day.

But that long, tear-filled day opened my eyes to how hard I was willing to push for my family. Part of me wanted to give up. Part of me wanted to retreat to our house we still hadn’t sold, ditch the paper-weight of a camper, and embrace the life we already knew. But something about going through the hard times actually made me want to push on more.

That’s the crazy thing about RV living. Even if things go wrong, often things are going right.

We grew closer as a family through that experience and we laugh about all we went through with that first travel trailer. I’ve grown more patient as a father. Through the tears. Through the toddler tantrums. Through the breakdowns, the lost blankets, the never-ending potty training, and the half mile hikes that now take us 2 hours. I’m crazy about that curly headed little girl.

Time still flies as a parent for me, but RV living has let me slow it down just a bit while I’ve watched Hensley grow. We don’t have the 2,000 square feet to live in any more. The SUV. The gym memberships. My dedicated room as an office in our house has now turned into a dedicated section of the couch.

But it’s all worth it. All of those things can be acquired again. Lost time with my daughter cannot.

So here’s to another 2 years on the road. Another 2 years of watching my baby girl grow from a toddler into a child. Another 24 months of adventure, family time, and most likely some tears along the way. Life has a way of teaching us lessons. I can only hope I embrace my time enough to continue to grow, learn, and pass my heart on to those after me.

14 Comments

  1. Mike Venti on June 20, 2017 at 10:56 am

    A beautiful heart filled expression of a great DAD!!! Hope you had a great father’s day. You should be very proud of what you have and what you have accomplished. Others see what an amazing job you have done. Sometimes as you say life flies by and you really don’t see the good because things happened so fast. But you have done a great job. Others will be there to let you know that, and then you will see those things too. Congratulations on a great family! Be proud!
    Keep the faith!
    Thank you so much for sharing your life with everyone.
    I am part of the soon to be The 5th Dimension RV…..full time 2018!

  2. David on June 20, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Happy Fathers Day!

  3. Dan & Hélène on June 20, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Great writer as well as a great video editor. Enjoyed the article. Hope you had a Happy Fathers Day.

  4. Greg E on June 20, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Awesome post man! We are only days away from our first little girl (due date in 2 days!) and really enjoy watching you and your family’s adventures. Thanks for taking the time to share your journey as it truly inspires us to embrace these ideals. Thanks for the post – it is much appreciated!

  5. Jim Taylor on June 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    While, we didn’t full time in our RV, we spent many days with our kids (twins who are now 25yrs) in our different RV’s. They are great memories. From the time my Son was roller bladeing in the RV while we were driving and I touched the breaks to see his expression, to when when our daughter (who is getting married in a few months) blew up an instant pancake bottle in the RV… batter everywhere, never could clean that up.

    Great times. Keep enjoying one another.

  6. Christopher Salazar on June 20, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Bravo! You big crybaby – (LOL) seriously dude, what an amazing dad you are. If more men stepped up like you have, this world would be a much better place. ?

  7. Stefon Miller on June 20, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Happy Belated Father’s Day bro, thanks for not giving up on your vision. You saw it and Marrissa believed in you. Yes, us real men don’t want to disappoint our family but when you look into the eyes of your family? Their lies your strength.

  8. Norm H. on June 20, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks, Nathan, for your transparency and honesty. Totally get the “not crying at the wedding” but crying because you feel like you let your family down-a personal bankruptcy in my case when my kids were much older than Hensley. But, we too came back from the dark days to build a stronger family. So, bro, keep on keeping on. You have a beautiful family and a lot of adventures await. A belated Happy Father’s Day to a good man. God bless.

  9. Ricky Breaux on June 21, 2017 at 7:05 am

    You are a great husband and father. Love watching your videos!! Keep it up!?

  10. Heather Kraafter on June 21, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Thank you for this amazing post, Nathan.
    As I read this out loud to my husband, we both laughed and shook our heads and nodded at the same parts. When I was done reading he said, “There is a blessed man. He got it before he lost it”
    We have 3 son’s. One is married and raising his 3 kiddos. One is a struggling young adult. And the last, a teen, is still home with us.
    As we begin our travels, not yet in an RV but working toward it, for now in our car. The three of us find it so exciting at the end of a long 4 day weekend of setting up for classes and tearing down, the pack in and out…we all say it was fun doing this together. We enjoy being a family and having these moments together.
    Something my husband regrets not having when the boys were little.

    I thought we might get a little tired of each other. I thought how will we handle disagreement or hurt feelings?
    You learn quickly to deal with it or live awkwardly in a small space!!

    Your story says so much about what it means to be a man, a husband a father. There is a lot on your shoulders. What you share with the world is new to most men out here. Thanks for continually allowing the rest of us to see what you and your family have to share. We are all blessed by you three.

  11. Katie on June 22, 2017 at 4:04 am

    THIS is why you guys have such a following! What an inspiration…

  12. Holly on June 22, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Love this post! Our family loves watching your adventures, and as we travel the country too, we sometimes feel like the only ones struggling with certain things. Your post reminds us that all of the small things that crop up are worth it to be together on this adventure. So thankful for your posts and vlogs!

    These lines in particular resonated for me:
    I’ve always tried to not envision myself a certain way as I’ve gone through life. (An important reminder for me!)
    Time still flies as a parent for me, but RV living has let me slow it down just a bit while I’ve watched Hensley grow. (We feel this way too about our little guy!)

    P.S: We have to laugh cause Hensley carries a blanket, and our little one, Liam loves his pillow – they’d make a good team 🙂

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