While editing photos from the last winter journey, I was reminded of a scene that plays out all over Russia in the brutal winter months. It doesn't matter where this photo was taken, because it's symbolic of almost every city I've driven through during all my visits to the country. Usually it's mothers struggling to push a stroller on unclear roads or sidewalks covered in snow, ice, and most often a combination of both. Or, they labor to carry a heavy stroller and child up or down steps in metro stations. I began to wonder whether the country in which you live matters when it comes to raising children?
I think so, for conditions everywhere aren't the same, though the motivation of any good parent around the globe is the well-being and development of their child. In the U.S., I rarely see situations like this and there are several reasons why. First, we're a lazy society, and elevators or escalators exist in almost all major shopping centers or transport hubs. Second, most people have cars, and aren't struggling to walk everywhere in bad weather conditions for basic chores or necessities in life. Outside of big cities, parking is rarely an issue, and even in big cities there are plenty of garages but you will pay a lot to park in them in places like Washington, DC (around $25/day), and in New York City the cost is even more astronomical. Finally, we're a heavily regulated society, with a lot of laws on both the Federal and State level.
What is the result of all these laws? There are personal burdens you must bear, or face some kind of consequence. In the U.S., store owners, and even home owners in certain residential areas, are required to clear sidewalks and pathways, otherwise they face fines. Similarly, local officials are under pressure from their constituents to have safe road conditions and timely plowing in the event of major storms. If they fuck up, they will be held accountable in most cases and face public outrage, or the loss of their position in the next election cycle. Yes, many Americans are whiners, and don't wish to struggle so much in daily life. First World problems, but also First World benefits because leaders are required to act, not merely exist and sit on their thrones. I already showed you how my sister's suburban neighborhood responded after a blizzard a few months ago. The post is here. We also frequently close major highways and roads when they become extremely hazardous due to ice or snow to prevent accidents and deaths.
I look at this photo and immediately panic due to the unsafe conditions. Imagine if the driver was irresponsible or drunk, coming up this hill at a high speed? The mother and her child are right in the pathway of danger. So, in my view, there are unique challenges to parenting in Russia, and all countries. For those in the U.S., you can share the frustrating challenges of raising children here.
The best parents are selfless, and play one of the most vital roles by raising intelligent, healthy and well-rounded humans who will contribute something positive to the world in the future. I've never once felt an obligation or desire to have this responsibility, and the reasons why are well-known to readers and documented here.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of parenting?
P.S.: Yes, I know there are many wonderful and rewarding aspects of having children, but this post is about the challenges. Similarly, there are lots of pros to living child free. A personal decision, as all things in life.