Did you know what motherhood meant before you became a mother?

I can’t be the only one who had absolutely no clue what it meant to be a mother until I became one. I knew that my mother did a lot for me, but as far as I knew, she just pulled it from thin air. I wasn’t entirely sure how she pulled off all the parties, activities, and dinners that she created for us; even that nasty Red Chicken. In my mind it was easy for her. It was her job.

Motherhood - Hike it Baby Style (1)Her other job was taking us camping. The most notorious of these camping trips was a backpacking trip down the Tetons. She was about 5 months pregnant at the time and we would discover after the trip was over that she was pregnant with twins. We forgot both the backpacking permit and the fuel for the stove. I remember rating each rehydrated meal based on how good it was cold. The spaghetti meal was still edible. The peas were better not rehydrated and the desserts were okay cold. The egg dishes didn’t fare as well.

I remember seeing a moose run 30 feet away from me. On the last day my dad hiked to the car to get the fuel so we could have one hot meal. We stayed in a little cabin by a lake. My mom backpacked my 2 year old sister, before babywearing was cool. I don’t remember my mom complaining or being irritate. She was all about the adventure we were having; an adventure that ended up being part of our family story.

I know that when I set out on a hike that I often forget things. I’m not always in the mood to hike or worse, I’m cold. It is times like these that I think about who I want to be as a mother. Who is it that I want my kids to remember? I owe a huge part of my hiking journey to both of my parents, however, I find myself increasingly looking back to the example set by my mom to center myself.

Motherhood - Hike it Baby Style (2)My mom is a woman of grit and determination. She walked down mountains pregnant with a two year old on her back. She made sure that we had a great time. She inspired us to get outdoors and do something big. She didn’t let little mistakes get in the way of the experience. I hope that I inspire my kids like my mom inspired me. I hope that by living my adventures with them that they have many of their own.

So on this day of mothers I’d like to say a big thank you to my mom and inspiration Elizabeth Sedgwick. Thanks for taking us all over and making sure we had a great time. Thanks for making it seem like it was “out of thin air” even when it must have been hard. Most especially, thank you for taking us all, even when we didn’t want to go.

To all the other mothers out there, our lives aren’t perfect; sometimes we forget the fuel for the stove, and in those moments we can be upset about it, or make a great memory.  I’m choosing to be more forgiving of myself in order to create memories my children will love. Happy Mother’s Day.

Heidi Schertz lives with her husband (Elliot) and two sons (Graham & Warren) in Milwaukee. When not hiking she enjoys reading, writing, knitting and cooking. She is learning after all these years just how much her mother was right about.

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