I remember five years ago standing in a visitor center making the decision to purchase a book titled, Passport To Your National Parks. I thought the book would be a nice way to remember places we visited but had no idea how much it would change the way our family travels. It was meant to be a souvenir but changed the way we travel. The passport is a blue, small, spiral book where tourists can collect stamps from visits to... [Read More]Read more
I don’t share the same sentiments as some of my mama friends as the new school year begins. I won’t be celebrating my children heading back to school. I’ll be wondering where the last three months have gone and cursing the quick passage of time.
Our youngest heads to kindergarten this year. Next week marks the first time in nearly 13 years that I’ve been without an extra shadow. There are no more little hands to hold as I run errands or lunch partners during the week. There are no more after-lunch reading sessions or mid-day painting sessions. No one will be there during the day asking to build a train track or needing help to dress a baby doll.
It hasn’t all been crafts and pleasant play. There have been tantrums, poopy diapers, refusals to eat and sleepless nights. Over a decade of unpleasant moments weave among the moments of joy and the mundane moments I take for granted. There are moments, whole days even, that I just have to endure and enjoyment is not an option, but still I appreciate the opportunity I’m given to parent my children. I may not be appreciative in the trenches of parenting battles, but always in hindsight. Don’t get me wrong. I could use a break after three months of playing the role of camp counselor but sending the kids away for seven hours each day, five days a week is a lot of away time for someone who stays home with her children.
Those not-so-enjoyable parenting experiences, taking a child for an x-ray to see where exactly the swallowed quarter is in the intestinal tract, have shaped who I am and who they are becoming. Being a crucial participant in the life story of four people, is a weighty privilege I feel more with each passing year of parenthood.
I’m the first to admit I feel my emotions deeply and openly. I’ve cried each year the night before school begins. I miss these kids when they’re gone and not because they’re obedient, perfect angels. They bicker. They drive me to fits where I’m just certain my head will explode or a vocal chord will burst. My house is noisy with life, smells of boys and has glitter and dead grass ground into the carpet in almost every room. My basement is a death-trap of LEGO pieces and piles of shoes crowd doorways. Someone is always hungry and something always needs to be found.
We’re not perfect. Parenting is difficult. Growing up is complicated. I know I’ll miss the cuddles and laughing as much as the things that drive me bonkers. School starts and with it comes homework and activities. The days are gone in a flash. I’m relieved my kids don’t dread the start of school. They adjust well to new things and change. They miss their friends, their teachers, their life outside the family. I’m excited for the potential each new year holds for my children.
You won’t find me celebrating sending my kids back to school. I’ll be reflecting on the time we’ve spent together, both this summer and since the beginning, and how we’ve been shaped by the good and bad of this parent/child relationship. Being given the title of mama has taught me infinitely more about myself, the positive along with the negative, than any other life experience. I’ll become teary-eyed as I watch those four pieces of my heart walk into their daily lives as we face yet another life change together. Then I’ll go home and eat ice cream because I’m incapable to handling raging emotions without frozen dairy products.
Stand at any number of overlooks in Bryce Canyon National Park gazing at the colorful landscape of hoodoos and you’ll understand the definition of breathtaking. The shades of red, orange, white and gray layered on each other seem unreal. We stood at Sunset Point watching shadows shift and change among the hoodoos as the sun neared the horizon and knew we had to be down in the canyon. Our first hike in the park was down the switchbacks of Wall Street. You... [Read More]Read more
There were no other travelers on the “The Loneliest Road in America,” US-50 in Nevada. We drove miles and miles without seeing other vehicles. There were no dilapidated buildings hinting at past habitation. It was just us on an adventure to Great Basin National Park with rolling hills and sagebrush as our companions. I’ve lived in Wyoming for almost four decades. I’m a sucker for the open road. I like roads rural with few people and quaint Norman Rockwell towns... [Read More]Read more
I stood in Menards looking down a long aisle of shelving possibilities wondering why I was even at a home improvement store. The day started with the sole intention of moving one bed from the spare bedroom to the tween’s room. I was looking for shelving while the basement at home was filled with multiple dismantled bed frames and a dresser stood smack-dab in the middle of the upstairs hallway waiting to make the journey downstairs. This is exactly why... [Read More]Read more
Apparently, I’m a risk-taker. Each summer, for seven years, we’ve welcomed a visiting Challenger Sports soccer coach in town for a British soccer camp. The coaches we’ve hosted are young men between the ages of 18-23. They need a place to call home for seven days. This week during camp, a mother I don’t know wanted to talk about hosting. More precisely, she wanted to talk about how negligent I was being. I was asked if I thought I was... [Read More]Read more
My feelings on Walt Disney World’s Epcot are complicated. It’s the park geared toward adults with smaller crowds and more free space to wander. The pace was less frantic giving the illusion of being a tourist in a different country taking in architecture and food instead of a typical theme park. I didn’t feel pressured to hurry from place-to-place, which was a welcome break from other parks in Disney World, mainly Magic Kingdom. BUT, I would have enjoyed Epcot more... [Read More]Read more
I didn’t think the humidity could get much worse than we had endured until the morning we walked into Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The sky was void of color, replaced with gray haze. I stepped off the bus and my glasses instantly fogged while dew collected on every service, including us. I feared the humidity would lead to a rough day in Animal Kingdom, but the kids were impervious to the weather once we were immersed in the... [Read More]Read more
A few years back, it came to my attention that Walt Disney World holds Star Wars Weekends annually in May and June. Our boys were obsessed with Star Wars at the time. I took Jedis to the grocery store with me and forced Stormtroopers to remove their helmets for lunch. Their book choices and LEGO sets revolved around Star Wars. I watched YouTube videos from Star Wars Weekends and knew if we were ever to visit Walt Disney World, it... [Read More]Read more
I answered the phone this afternoon and was greeted with, “Hi Mom. I missed you.” It was the first time in six days we had any communication from our oldest who was at Boy Scout summer camp, and he had missed me. He missed all of us, but let’s focus on the part where he missed ME. I had to keep myself from crying tears of joy and relief. I’m such an emotional sap. He was full of stories from... [Read More]Read more