I’d been itchin’ to get out in nature. Every place we’ve lived over the last ten years, I have found it. Hiking trails. Streams. Trees. Oh the trees. I love them so much. I got teary looking at a video of the Redwoods recently. They call me. They do. I’ve never even been to California. Two days after the Botanical Gardens incident, I tried for some trees. We went to a state park we’d never been to before, just me and the kids and it was “Lake Erie beach,” not trails. Noonday sun. Not what I wanted. Still we decided to check it out. Riley’s OCD kicked in, she wasn’t in a bathing suit, everyone else was. It upset her. I thought she was right behind me, as we walk to toward the water. Turned around, she was gone. I hadn’t quite recovered from the previous scare, and I went ape shit when I found her, hiding in some bushes.
I said, “We’re leaving.”
She fought it.
I dragged her in a headlock to the car and said things I wish I hadn’t. Seth was crying, following behind us. He really wanted to see that beach.
Beside the parking lot, I stopped and sat down on the grass. Put my head on my knees. Dejected. What am I going to do? How am I going to do this? I am so tired. My hormones are out of whack again. Hot flashes round the clock. I have been to four doctors. No sleep in weeks.
Riley sat on the grass too.
Slowly she inched her way toward me, so we were sitting side by side. Six inches apart. Both of us steaming, but she wanted to be near me. I wasn’t ready. Kept my face down. So tired.
Seth came up behind us and silently put a hand on each of our backs. I was still breathing hard. Still angry. He stood there, one little hand on my back, one little hand on Riley’s. I felt the diffusion happening. The love of this little boy calming me down. After several minutes, when he intuitively felt it was okay, he leaned in and hugged both of us, smooshing us together. Family hug.
“Mommy, I’m sorry I hid,” Riley said.
“You have no idea how scary it is for a parent when they feel like their child is missing.”
“I’m sorry,” she squeaks. Then adds,
“You don’t know what it feels like for me, when everyone else is in a bathing suit, and I’m not.”
No I ‘effing don’t. I want to smack her. Put my head into a wall. I breathe. What would love do?
We went to the van, (where I had the bathing suits, had she given me a chance to check the place out and decide that’s what we would be doing).
I let them play in the water, while I sat on the beach, feeling battered and bruised.
Yesterday, I found what I was looking for. We hiked for miles.
I feel like a good mother when I get them out to places like this. Places that calm my own soul.
I spent half my childhood in the woods.
In a short time they were covered head to toe in mud. My camera battery died so I don’t have pics of that.
I wish I could say Riley didn’t run away, but she did. On the way back she did. We let the kids run ahead on the trail, and told them to stop when they got to the road. Oh how glorious to let them have freedom, to run in the forest! They got out of our site. Seth stopped at the road. Riley didn’t. He ran back to tell us. She ran ahead, and took a wrong turn and could have gotten massively lost in the woods if two parents weren’t there to branch out.
Riley has never been a runner. She never did this at two or three years old. She was always terrified. Always attached at my hip. Is she making up for some missed developmental milestone? I don’t know.
After we found her I just totally checked out. Let Todd deal with the whole thing. Held Seth’s hand and walked ahead.
“I get worried when Riley gets lost,” Seth said.
“It’s not always easy, is it Seth? But you are an awesome brother.”
He never fails to say “thanks.”
From behind, Riley muttered something about not wanting to be treated like a baby. Not wanting to hold Todd’s hand. Todd said something about not being able to trust her.
One foot on the trail in front of the other, I continued to breathe.
Look at the trees.
Look at the trees.
We will find our balance.