When Adventure Feels Like Home

I’ve had plenty of great days in the mountains with my kids but today was different. While hanging out by the lake, I noticed they were both happy and at peace. Okay, okay…it doesn’t sound like anything extravagant but this moment wasn’t exactly the outcome I was expecting after the six dreadful hours that led up to it. Had I entered the twilight zone?

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After being indoors a little too much the past two days, it was a miracle we even made it to the mountains. I had slowly been gearing up for 3 nights of camping at Two Jack Lakeside however the day before we were supposed to leave, my husband called to say that he wouldn’t be back from his work trip to go. I spent the rest of the night and morning stressing about how to salvage the trip—was the thought of taking 2 kids camping by myself realistic? No. I was being ridiculous. I gave the campsite to my parents and decided we’d make a couple of day trips out there while they were working.

With a screaming baby in my arms, I tried to grab and pack what I could just to make it out for the day. As I stuffed the cooler with hotdogs, popcorn, a handful of blueberries, and milk, I glanced at the clock on my way out the door. It was 2pm and I was just about to leave Calgary—what was I thinking? I try not to set myself up for failure but at this point it felt like I’d lose either way. We were all going stir crazy and I was willing to gamble that a little outdoor therapy would brighten our moods. I pushed through.

 

Neither kid slept on the drive out. When we arrived, my 2.5yr and 1yr olds were anxious to move and fighting me every second as I tried to get them out of the car. Once free, they immediately got into the dirt. Crawling, falling, fire building, rock stacking, chalking, biking… Eventually we found our way to the water and started to explore.

 

The beach was perfect. Sitting on a log with the hot sun on my back, I secretly watched my son fish in the water while my daughter practiced walking with the help of a rock. The stress, anxiety, and frustration that had been pumping through my body slowly started to melt away. The sensation of relief was overwhelming. What seemed impossible nearly 2hrs ago was suddenly happening—my kids were at peace and so beautifully natural. Compared to when we left the house, I could hardly recognize them. The screaming, crying, bad behaviour, continuous “mom”-ing had stopped.

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I’m not sure if this is a testament that kids are naturally outdoor creatures but it sure made me realize that all of those daily neighbourhood walks, camping trips, days at the ski hill, and adventures on the bike had prepared us for this moment. Instantly they blended into their surroundings. Without hesitation, they made themselves comfortable. They understood the natural “toys” at their disposal and the giant playground that surrounded them.

My thoughts flashed back to memories of tears, battles to get dressed, endless lost mittens, and “adventures gone wrong” but then it all went away because in this moment, all the hard work came together to create this experience. My job was done (not really) but witnessing the release that being outdoors gave my kids, reaffirmed that I’m on the right path with all this adventuring stuff.

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It’s 9:38pm right now and I’m writing this blog from the campsite. I can’t post it because I don’t have connection but it had to be captured. That blissful feeling from the beach never left and thanks to my terrible habit of over-packing, I was able to make a last minute decision to spend the night. Both kids went to sleep at their regular bedtimes (7 and 8pm), my parents stayed in town, and here I am enjoying the fire by myself. How did I luck out? I have to believe it’s because being outside and together feels like home—it’s become second nature to our family. The journey to get here hasn’t been easy and the struggles are real but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat for afternoons like today.

 

Thanks to my dad for hauling out the camper and my mom for meeting us in Canmore the following morning because we couldn’t eat anymore hotdogs 🙂

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