One Spring Break, not too long ago, Jamie and I spent most of the week bickering about everything and nothing. My expectations for our family time together had fallen short once again. On that fateful morning, I heard Parker crying from his crib and plodded upstairs to retrieve him. He was nearly seven months old and as I lifted him out of his crib, I pulled his tear streaked face close to mine. We matched that morning. I would have a good cry right along with him. I sat down on his bedroom floor and nursed him. His cries ceased, yet mine continued.
I heard Jackson’s small feet ambling up the stairs and he crouched down beside me on the floor. “Why you cry, Mommy?” He asked. I didn’t have an answer.
Soon there after, I sat Parker up on my lap and a fierce burp escaped from his mouth, followed by a stream of spit up all over my pants and the rug. Before I had time to think, my sweet two-year-old sighed and said, “@#$%ing @#$%.” I’ll leave you to your own imagination. What ever words you think he said, magnify them by ten and that may be close to the truth. Probably not though.
I hung my head and cried even more. I am home with my kids every single day, and this is the best I can do? My two-year-old just said “@#$%ing @#$%” Not shit or damn. Not any regular ol’ cuss word. I should have known that we were not well right then and there. But I didn’t.
Four years later, we have circled back to the same place in our lives in so many ways, and yet, everything is different.
Again, we have a seven month old baby. Again we just had Spring Break. Again there was some bickering. But on the whole, we are well. In the space between then and now, I’ve learned so much about myself.
I’ve learned that I need time alone to recharge. I’ve learned that it’s important to ask for help when you need it. I’ve learned that running and the outdoors are my greatest therapy. I’ve learned that everything I need to find wellness is already inside me. I just have to be intentional about carving out the time for it.
The boys and I have hiked at least once a week since November. I couldn’t bear the thought of being shut in all winter with a baby, so I recreated my own truths about babies and the outdoors. Instead of hibernating, I bundled a baby and kids up and we hit the trails. We may not have stayed out long on the coldest of days, but we did get out.
They don’t always love it. There is arguing and whining. But there is also exploring and romping and time to play with friends. It’s the best kind of freedom I can offer their curious souls. And it’s not completely about them. It’s about me too. I love my time in the forest, wandering along a lake or creek, talking to other Mom’s about the crazy things my kids do, and hearing their strangely similar tales. I’m always lighter when I leave the forest.
On this Spring Break, we saw Virginia’s second highest waterfall at Bottom Creek Gorge and got caught in a surprise rain shower. The kids learned that sometimes things don’t go as planned. Make the best of it.
We had Easter egg hunts galore. This provided an important lesson in learning how to consume excessive amounts of chocolate for breakfast.
We visited Hungry Mother State Park. I snuck in a run around the lake through awe inspiring tunnels of rhododendron. We hiked to the top of Molly’s knob for an incredible view of the surrounding mountains, and we tried out geocaching for the very first time. Some amazing friends joined us for a few days and it turned out to be an awesome little getaway.
Two of our favorite friends stopped by for a surprise visit. We laughed, told stories, drank fizzy water and got all caught up on life.
We ran Mill Moutain Mayhem – a 10k trail race up to the Mill Mountain Star, TWICE (thanks to Jamie and Mike, as Jamie is training for a marathon around Carvin’s Cove in June). Then of course we drank some beer.
And finally, I decided to sit down and write. It calls to me all the time and I struggle to carve out any more seconds from my days, but I decided I can certainly find 30 minutes to do it, just 30 minutes for something I love. Don’t we all deserve this gift to ourselves each and everyday?
I remember what happens when we don’t extend this gift. When we start to feel that life is one long list of obligations to hurdle. When the joy starts to slowly fade away. Eventually it escapes us and we are left struggling to find our way back to ourselves.
This Spring Break deserves another cuss word. Not the sour one from years ago. It deserves a good ol’ fashioned, “Hell yeah.”
We saw our people, we saw our places, we pursued that which brings us joy.
“Hell yeah!” roared the parents from the top of a mountain (and then the kids did too.)