There are just a few weeks of summer left, I’ve been working on a few different projects that have required me to look back through this summer’s pictures. It’s been a beautiful reminder of what a full and delightful one it’s been. It started off in the Olympic National Forest with my brother Devin and his family, parents, and Dantzel. This was a pretty epic trip for me. I now happily refer to it as my Mommy marathon of the summer. Taking a two and a half month old baby camping and hiking alone with her two older brothers was gutsy, and I’m proud of my grit. I have several whole posts in my head about this trip- hopefully I’ll get to actually type them up someday.
And so it begins- Nothing like starting a vacation on a boat! We drove onto the ferry to Kingston so we could drive to Port Angeles. Seattle is such a cool city!
Atop Hurricane Ridge
Salt Creek County Park- first campsite, tide pools
My nephew Keiton came along and it was such a treat to get to know him alone, and for the boys to spend time with just him.
I love that my boys have a “young aunt.” I was the young aunt to my oldest nieces and nephews and I LOVED it. My boys thrill in Dantzel’s attention. Here she is showing Anders, Keiton and I a tiny tide pool- there were multiple creatures swimming in this small shell!
This was the first face Scotland made upon waking up after our first night of camping. The boys were SO excited to sleep in the tent that they literally begged me to let them go to sleep. (I should specify that was the first night. It certainly wasn’t the last.)
Just to prove that Chiara was there.
The only reason I had the guts to go on this trip was because I was going to be with my parents, brother and sister and sister-in-law. In the end bad cell service and a disparity of needs and interests meant that we were together only in the mornings and evenings. None the less it was great to see them, and it’s certainly easier to prepare kids for the day, and get them ready for bed when someone else is holding your baby!
The last day we were there, I kept Keiton so the older half could enjoy some longer hikes (and drives). We had a beach day. The boys had a blast running in the surf at Kalaloch. They both were really taken by the sensation of the waves under their feet. Scotland was certain that the earth was moving under him. That he was standing still and everything else was in motion. Over and over he tried to verbalize how strange and exciting it was. This was the perfect beach to experience the ocean, because it was shallow for a long time and the waves were exciting without being too frightening- at least to the 5 year olds.
After beach number one, we changed into dry clothes and headed to beach two (Ruby Beach). (Where they quickly got wet again.) There was the above lake of sorts on the beach, which fascinated the boys much more than the rocky, driftwood laden beach. I helped them push in this driftwood ‘boat’ and they sailed around on it laughing hysterically. (It was such a jolly sight that multiple other hikers stopped to take pictures of them.) It was all fun and games until Anders, napless, fell apart and started to throw one of his royal tantrums. (The screaming-at-the-top-of-his-lungs, I-will-not-compromise, dead-weight, sort of tantrum.) He had been slow to join the boys on the driftwood log, so when I told them that it was time to head out shortly after he’d finally worked up the courage, he was IRRATE. I was, unfortunately, unsympathetic, which of course escalated the tantrum. After unsuccessfully trying to console him. I ended up hauling him all the way up the trail as he kicked and screamed (while carrying Chiara in the Ergo) and encouraging the older boys to please hurry and carry the bags, all while hikers gave me varying looks. (“What a horrible Mother!” “What is she doing to that poor boy. “”Oh that poor Mom!” “What a beast of a child.” “She is not equipped to be a mother.” “Somebody should do something!” ) By the time we reached the van I was in a state of emotional duress. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was frustrated that the other part of the group had never shown up at Ruby Beach as was our plan. Surely, they’d be back at the campsite. Well, no. The rest of the evening was rough. Really rough. With four hungry kids (and a hungry Mom) I didn’t do the logical thing and just eat crackers and peanut butter for dinner but insisted on making the tamales and salad I had prepared and brought for my dinner assignment that night. So there I was, Chiara crying in the Ergo, three little boys running around yelling while I tried to encourage them to help me collect firewood. Of course they didn’t, at which point I started to shame them for not helping when it was obvious I needed help- baby screaming at this point. They still didn’t help. And the five other adults still didn’t show up. I can only imagine what the campers around me were thinking. Regardless, I got the fire going, cooked the tamales, prepared the salad, fed the kids, prepped the kids for bed, fed the baby, tried to lull her to sleep, unsuccessfully- while watching three boys in the forest, felt bad that my nephew was chattering with cold since he had no dry clothes (them being in the van with the absent adults), fielded question after question from the sweet cold nephew, tried to force my two defiant boys to stay in their sleeping bags and sleep so I could finally get the screaming baby to sleep, who was shaking with frustration at all the chaos .. I think you get the point. I had lost all emotional control. And in that fragile state I decided to scrap it- and go home. I buckled the boys in their seats. Threw everything in the back of the van, took down the tent- shoved it in, and drove off. The fire still crackling at our campsite. I passed the others in our group at the turn off to our campsite, at 8:30PM. I curtly informed them that I was driving home, jumped out, pulled out Keiton and his stuff, and drove off. I was ashamed, embarrassed. But I couldn’t take anymore. And I knew that driving while the boys and hopefully Chiara slept was a much better plan than driving the following day when she would likely cry most of it (as she had for the majority of the driving the two days previously.) It turns out two near sleepless nights, combined with three days of extensive physical exertion doesn’t bode well on my psyche. I cried much of the way home.
I share this not to point fingers at my totally well-intentioned and apologetic parents and siblings. But to be real. Could I forgo these details (and spare myself the unflattering reveal) and instead tell of the majestic memories we made? Could I give the impression that taking two boys camping with a two and a half month old alone was wonderful, and easy. Sure. And truthfully 90% of the trip was beautiful. But that final 10, was ugly. Downright ugly. I felt so rattled and ashamed I couldn’t pull myself out of it for days. Now, writing about it months later those emotions are still strong, and while the memories of finding sea stars in the tide pools, or having a picnic over a waterfall together, or watching my boys laugh hysterically as they ran through the surf are beautiful and vibrant they are still covered by this hazy film of regret for loosing it in the final round. Ironically, just before writing this post I was studying for a talk I’ll be giving in church in a few weeks on humility and forgiveness. And it occurs to me that there is a way to remove the haze, and that is by humbling myself and seeking God’s grace. I was so proud of my success up to that point. I had so many people stop and comment on how brave I was to take two boys and a new born hiking alone. I had strangers (Chinese) take pictures of me with my three small children in the middle of the rainforest- happily hiking along. I had chosen to go off on my own to prove that I was capable, to impressive others. I didn’t need anyone’s help! So in the end when I came to a crashing halt, I was devastated- my weakness exposed. Forgiveness, isn’t all that’s needful, but repentance. Repentance and humility.
The trip was an emotional marathon. It did what I knew it would do: expose my weaknesses, define my limits, and shed light on my abilities and disabilities. Too often I seek comfort at the expense of meaningful soul-stretching experiences. This was a time when I sought discomfort for the purpose of growth. And I got it- by means of a painful pruning.