Kid Friendly Hiking

(I wrote this 5 days ago, and as is my custom, thought “I will post this after I proofread it in a few minutes…” Yep.  5 days ago.)

I’ve missed you all!  Right now I am sitting in bed, all nice and clean, rehydrating and keeping my feet up.  I’m pretty sure I am going to lose a toenail because my feet apparently think that a 4.8 (actually 7.5 — and we didn’t even get lost!) mile, kid-friendly hike is equivalent to a marathon.

We’ve had a lot of shit going on lately but things are getting a lot better than ever.  With all the crazy family drama going on (outside our little nuclear family), we’ve become so much closer with each other within our little nuclear family and have been getting to see my 16 year old step-daughter a lot more than before.  We were going to go camping “in the wild” per the 6 year old’s request yesterday but with a chance of bad storms in the forecast, we decided that for a first time camping trip, we would camp in the backyard, so we could escape to the house if storms hit.  The tents were set up and ready just in time for the storms, so the sweet older sister suggested camping in the living room.  (She did, the little sister wound up in our bed.) So, we decided that we would go for a hike today.  We did some research and found a kid-friendly hike that was a moderate 4.8 miles and had 2 waterfalls.  Little G (6 year old) is pretty tough and has been on several pretty long hikes, so we figured it would be fun, even if it was hot.

Apparently, the travel guide writer doesn’t have kids — or know any– because there were tears and sore legs and tired tiny bodies and dehydration (due to a miscommunication about who was bringing how much water) and a very tiny waterfall due to the dry season.  We were all salty at different times, literally and figuratively (if you don’t have a teenager around to keep you up to speed, “salty” means cranky or testy or whatever we old people call it).  And I’ll soon get to see if G takes after her parents or if she gets poison ivy — the trails were COVERED! (Edit: She apparently doesn’t!  At least not this time!)

But — there is always a but — it was great.  Don’t get me wrong, I am freaking exhausted and I am going to be sore as hell tomorrow and there were A LOT of tears and scraped knees and whining and headaches.  But I learned that horse fly bites don’t hurt nearly as much as I remembered from childhood.  I got to tell G all about how awesome it was growing up with 45 acres of woods, 6 ponds and a lot of time unsupervised and about the times when we all got to swing on grapevines in the woods with her Pappy. The scenery was beautiful and it didn’t rain.  I watched G power through a really hard hike, I saw her sister be patient and wait while we dried tears, and I was reminded again how amazing my husband is (gentle and optimistic and adventurous and strong).

We all learned a lot about enjoying the journey, not just rushing to get to a destination.  We learned that we are tougher than we think.  And we learned that we don’t give up when something is hard.  (G was learning these lessons for the first time, but it never hurts for the rest of us, even Ironmen, to be reminded!)

On the way home, we were discussing the hike with the most appropriate cliches we could think of.  I was pretty proud of my “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, but J won with his “sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug”.  G thought that “today we were all bugs and that hike was the windshield.” But I’m not so sure.  I think that hike was just one adventure of many in this big crazy roller coaster we call life.  And I can’t wait to see what’s next.  Just because something is hard doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do it!  Just ask a 6 year old who has already recovered from her most recent adventure.

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Sometimes I need to hear my own voice

I’m having a hard time tonight. I feel like crying. I think it’s hormones. These days, the few days before my period, I am like a toddler. Uncontrollable mood swings from hell. And my tolerance for people is at -45.

Right now I’m sitting at work, even though I could have left 2.5 hours ago, because if I go to the old house, I will fall asleep as soon as I sit down. And I have some shit I need to get done.

My daughter is staying with her grandparents tonight, which is totally cool since she isn’t staying with them as often as she used to. I will have grand plans to write or read or clean or pack or even just paint my nails, but I will sit down and the next thing I know J will be calling to check on me and it will be 11:00. And I will have mush brain but won’t be able to fall back into as deep of a sleep again until 10 minutes before my alarm goes off in the morning. Then boom. Mush brain again.

Plus, I don’t have wi-fi at the old house and I wanted to download some updates for the ol’ electronic devices. And I don’t know what I want to eat. And I’m cranky. And I’m mad at myself for not being healthier or training or just getting my shit together. Right now, I don’t even know where my shit is, much less if it’s together!
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Whoa.

I was interrupted in my stream-of-consciousness rambling rant when J called to chat. We talked and he was going to get something to eat and play COD (that’s Call of Duty to you uninitiated folks.) That’s how exciting our phone conversations are. When we hung up, I decided to go through some voice memos on my phone. I’m not really sure why. I’m weird like that.

I just listened to a very frustrated, very unhappy, very lost little girl. She hated her job and she couldn’t think and she was feeling very overwhelmed and very much like a failure. She was thinking of writing a letter to a self-help person because she didn’t know what else to do. She cried when she talked about how lucky she was but how broken she felt. I have to admit, I teared up when I heard her. Okay. I ugly cried. I wanted to call her and hug her and tell her everything is ok. That she is ok. That she is depressed and she just needs a little help to get moving again. She needs to tell someone else all that stuff she just told the recorder on her phone. Because she doesn’t have to hide behind a façade of everything being just fine.

I wanted to give my 4 years younger self the gift of knowing she has the strength to get through this, but she can’t do it alone.

It has been a hard 4 years. Until I listened to that scared, broken woman, I didn’t realize how far I had come. I didn’t really realize how long I had been fighting my depression and then fighting even harder to hide it. I’ve survived a lot. My depression was brought out into the sunlight (and internet and tv and newspapers) for all to see and to make — usually erroneous– judgments about.

And here I am.

I am standing. I am smiling more than I am not. I have a happy, healthy, super smart and hilarious daughter and I have a husband who stood by my side through it all.

Oh younger me, I am so sorry I let you stay in that dark place for so long! And I am sorry to know what trauma you have to go through to get back into the sunlight. But I am not sorry to say that you are awesome. You are tough and you are loved and you are amazing. You still have bad days and you still are tired sometimes and you’re not as perfect as you would like. But you are standing tall and you will continue on in the sunlight with the help of all those people who love you, whether you’re perfect or not. (Mostly not. And that’s ok.)

By the way, “those people?” That’s you guys. Thank you for being cheerleaders and companions and spectators along this journey. I appreciate you more than you know. I love you and you are all tougher than you think.