Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dear Walk


Dear Walk,

"Put one foot in front of the other," and you begin the mobile phase of our lives.  Our first steps most likely took place toward open arms and encouraging words, with a few stumbles and falls, and amid some fierce determination.  Soon after, you become an ordinary, daily part of us for a long time.  We amble, we strut, we even drag ourselves at times, and we march from place to place, moments to moments in life.

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We began our first summer vacation outing with a hike at a state park about a two-hour drive away.  Dear Husband had wanted to visit this particular park for a long time.  Seeing that we were going to have great weather, he mentioned this place for a hike.  I wholeheartedly agreed, and if you know anything about me, that is huge.  You see, I've come a long way.

Just after we moved to our current house in Suburbia, DH had often suggested that we go hiking at our local forest preserves trails.  Being the sun- and bugs- Major-Phobe that I am, I was not interested.  Much.  Dear Daughter was a mini-me in that regard, and Dear Son was still in diapers then.  So the thought of trudging through muddy trails in the heat, risking mosquito bites, and very likely having to carry DS for most of the hike was not very appealing to me.  So DH waited.

Finally, he got us to go on a 1.5 mile hike at a trail minutes away from our home (baby steps work well for stubborn people, if you ask me).  The kiddos were four and eight, and walked the entire way with nary one complaint.  They even had fun, as did I (no bug bites or sunburns involved).  So I said to DH, "How come we didn't do this earlier?  This is so close to home!"  He gave me the most amiable I-told-you-so look he could muster and called it a day.  At least we knew that it was totally doable. 

Last week, I had just been complaining about how this summer did not feel like summer yet.  It had been rainy and cold, forcing me to wear thick layers and winter slippers indoors--in June!  Upon coming home from a work trip across the country and seeing that there will be one sunny weekend day, DH suggested we go hiking.  It was a glorious day.  The sun played peekaboo through the thin clouds all day.  The air was cool, the gentle breeze tickled our skin and whisked away moisture, and the tall trees provided shade and enveloped us in nature.  We couldn't have asked for a better day.

Energized by lunch and excitement, we set off on the hike.  The first part of the hike had wood-board paths.  I wasn't sure why, as it seemed sort of unnatural to me.  But soon enough, we were on a good old natural, muddy dirt trail.  And I thought, this is how it should be!  See?  I've come a long way.

At the beginning, I trailed behind my peeps.  I was busy capturing photos and taking in Nature and all its glory.  Except we were warned by signs to avoid poison ivy, and once we learned how to identify them, we realized that they were indeed every-freakin'-where.  Some leaves where bigger than my hand!  I carefully steered DS away from them from all directions with my 360-Degree Mama Radar.




When we came to dirt paths, however, I steadily gripped DS's hand and walked behind DH and DD.  Without the wooden boards, the trail was bumpy, uneven, and at times, very dangerous.  There were stretches where two feet to your side was a drop-off of hundreds of feet.  For someone who is afraid of heights, well, I may have survived those parts at the expense of DS's hand perhaps hurting.  A little bit.  We had to navigate across some very muddy grounds, slippery stone steps, sandy areas, and even balance on logs to cross a tiny river.  But we all made it out okay, hand-in-hand.




But after the treacherous, steep parts, we came to a path along a river, and the concrete path was straight and easy.  And that's when I began to stride in my pace.  Anyone who has walked with me might remember that I happen to be a fast walker.  At the mall, I constantly have to stop completely to wait for my peeps.  Same with walking at theme parks, or even at the grocery store.  I just seem to need to get from point A to point B with as little resistance as possible.  I needed to be there yesterday.  Occasionally, DH reminds me to stop and smell the roses.  And I'm all, my roses are on my couch, so the faster I get this walking done the faster I can sit down on my couch to grow roots smell those roses.

But near the end of the trail at about 2.6 miles in, I was clearly running out of steam.  The very end was an uphill slope to reach a set of stairs to go up on a high point to see the magnificent view.  Here I was, worried that the kiddos would be too tired to complete the 3 mile hike, and they were the ones ahead of us, running up the stairs to reach the top while I had to stop slow down and catch my breath.  And this is when I realized that the kiddos are no longer little anymore.  We are the ones that are slowing down while they are blazing full speed ahead.  

It occurred to me that soon, hand-holding would be for our sake--the parents'--rather than for the safety of my young children.  Soon, they would be the ones waiting for us, and we would be the ones holding them back.  And even though that time has not come yet and is hopefully still a ways away, a tiny flash forward of it made me taste a touch of melancholy, though in a good way.  So this is what it's like to be aging in front of your burgeoning children.  This is how it feels to see your children ahead of you, flapping their wings and ready to take flight.  You can only hold their hands for so long before letting them go.  And although sometimes I have my doubts, I think that it is very likely that they will turn back from time to time to hold my hand, lead the way, and make sure I don't fall.

Life works in amazing, cyclical ways.

My momentary glimpse of the future ended as we finished the hike and sat down for a cold, sweet reward: ice cream.  I watched the kiddos eat their ice cream the way kids do--deliberately and with much enthusiasm--and I knew that I still have many more years before I have to let go.  

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So, Dear Walk, whether we traipse, tread, or parade across paths, trails, or open roads, we accomplish your task of getting from one place to another.  But what we learn and realize over time is that walking the path of someone you love makes our own movement all the more interesting, meaningful, and profound.  I have once walked my children's paths; one day, they will walk mine.  

Sincerely,
Me


Linking up with Alison and Galit's Memories Captured



12 comments:

  1. Hooray! to you for going through this heroic endeavor. :-) Your story sounds like a very very familiar story.

    Sigh...isn't it so true that the children go so fast. Your last paragraphs made me a little more wistful, too.

    ~Imelda

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    1. Hi, Imelda, I take it you guys have been hiking as a family, too?? It really is fun once we get going, isn't it? Yes, children grow up fast and I feel old even faster. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend!

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  2. You sound like me - a walk-a-phobe because I am a mosquito magnet. Before we had kids though, we did trek through a couple of jungles. Not anymore. Maybe when the boys are older. And I'll likely feel like you do, when our hand holding is more for us, than them.

    Thank you for linking up with us!

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    1. Hi, Alison! I'm sure you guys will trek again once the kids are older. It's not much fun now when you've got potties and diapers on your mind. :) I do wish I can hold their hands for a long time. This was a close-to-heart memory captured. Thanks for hosting and for stopping by to read!

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  3. What a lovely anecdote to reflect on life's cycles. Loved your story of the walk (we've been to that state park before we had kids - can't wait to go back with Gavin) and how you overcame some previous notions about being outdoors!

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    1. Thank you, Nilsa! I have my DH to thank for not allowing me to resist hiking due to my inaccurate notions. And I thanked him for it! You'll have so much fun hiking when Gavin when he's ready. Seems like your camping trip went really well, and I think I saw a trail out there, too?!

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  4. I love hikes...but I have to confess that it's mostly for the photos, not the terrific workout :) (But it is great exercise, and good family bonding!) My younger son can tend to get whiny on hikes, so I always have a backpack with bribes, I mean, snacks to get us through.

    I'm glad you and your family enjoyed the hike. It sure does highlight how the kiddos grow up, while we slow down a bit as we age.

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    1. Oh, Janna, it's not for the exercise for me, too! It's for the experience and the added bonus of snapping pics. We have so much fun together as a family. We were walking in the neighborhood the other day, and the kiddos went so far ahead of us and turned the corner so I couldn't see them anymore. I did not like it one bit. But I guess that's just exactly the things to come! I think I'm gonna have to try my darnedest to keep up as much as I can. Thanks, Janna, and I hope you had a great vacation!

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  5. I have no idea what poison ivy or poison oak or sumac look like so glad this place had signs and photos! Pretty amazing the lessons and glimpses into the future you got on this walk. Definitely, our children will walk and fly before us one day. Hopefully we'll be proud, not sad, because we played a big role in helping them get to that place.

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    1. I also knew nothing about poison ivy prior to this, Lisa! Now we ALL know. I think you're right and we'll be proud and not sad when the kids do take off. I feel sad now mostly because I'm not ready yet since they're so little, but when it happens, it'll be the right time and it'll feel right. I hope. Thanks for the encouraging words!!

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  6. I am catching up on reading and OMG Sandra - this is beautiful. You especially grabbed my heart with "his is how it feels to see your children ahead of you, flapping their wings and ready to take flight. "

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    1. Thank you, thank you, Cindy. Now that DD is getting closer to my height, I can't help but think ahead more often. She's more mature and considerate now and when she took my hand that day, I suddenly thought about how one day our roles would be reversed and I'd be needing her for anchorage. It was really a great experience, both physically and emotionally on that hike. Thanks for catching up, and I hope you're enjoying summer with your girls and hubby! I'm loving this slow, relaxing summer myself. :)

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