I often have dreams, especially while sleeping through long winter nights, where I am about to go on a long backpacking trip. I think it’s because I love the anticipation of driving far away to the drop off, spending the night, driving to the trail head to say goodbye and heading off on what promises to be an exciting adventure.
Since I became a mom, these night-time dreams usually involve prepping Cap’n J, my four year old, for hiking with me. Not on a kid friendly hike but one of my long backpacking trips.
This only makes sense if you consider that as a stay-at-home-mom there are many days where we are inseparable. I often have trouble telling where he ends and I begin, causing my subconscious to sort through it in strange ways. I remember it probably took at least a year before I would have any dreams without my little guy starring in them and this made me perfectly happy.
Lately though, during my waking hours, I’ve been trying to find new purpose in myself. I know this will make me a better mom. I have been lucky to find both backpacking and writing as a focus since I am having some physical issues and can’t dance ballet right now. As my son becomes more independent and my husband begins to realize that I am not the house elf, it gets easier to imagine what I would like to do secondary to caring for my wonderful family.
I love sharing the outdoors with my family. The Appalachian Trail helped me and my husband get through a tough time in our marriage. Even though we had many arguments in our tent, the adventure gave us a deeper understanding of each other when we desperately needed it. I remember our first camping trip with Cap’n J, when he was about a year and a half old. He crawled over logs in pursuit of ants and brought me little pine cones he discovered along the way. He also screamed non-stop at bedtime, because we tried to put him to bed before dark. Nothing can compare to watching my son today, beaming with delight because he’s surrounded by nature, running down the trail fearless and happy.
But it still feels like the wilderness was my safe haven before they were all here and sometimes I need to go into it and find my strength again. I like the silence I find there and the time I get to spend with my own thoughts.
Last night I finally had a dream where it was just me getting ready to hike a long trail. Not me and my family – just me. It was freeing and relaxing at the same time. No Guilt!
The world of perfect moms out there, who never seem to be frustrated and who find perfect happiness by just being moms, will probably shun me forever for even thinking these thoughts, let alone writing them down for all to see.
But if I can’t admit honestly to the world that I want to be a woman, as well as an amazing super-mom, how can I teach my son to love his unique self? My worry stems from not wanting him to feel unloved or to think that the reason I want to do some things alone is because I don’t want to do them with him. I know I can’t be the only mom who feels this way.
Did I mention that “wanting” and “achieving” are two very different things? Oh well, no guilt – just love and backpacking! I’ll show my son the tops of mountains but claim some just for myself and find a deeper happiness in the time we spend as a family because of the time I spend getting to know myself.
Are your dreams different on cold winter nights when you miss the warmth that allows you to head outdoors with little preparation? Or could summer never excite in you the same feelings as freshly fallen snow?