When I was younger, in my head, I was going to be a really awesome mom to a daughter one day. We might be best friends, I wasn’t sure, but I was confident she would think I was the best mom in the world. The coolest mom. And we’d never fight. We’d tell each other everything and she’d share all her secrets with me. I would be her Person … her go-to in good and bad times. And there would be laughter. Lots of laughter.
Fast forward to the me now – mom of three (ages 11, 6 and 2) with the middle-aged years sneaking up on me. I never seem to get enough sleep, and the only time I’m not screaming at the kids is when I’m whispering under my breath in public for them to be quiet, keep their hands to themselves and stop running around.
And I’m far from that awesome mom I was sure I would be someday.
My 11-year-old daughter and I argue as much as she changes outfits in a day – that would be at least 3x in the morning, one time after school, and finally the final change of clothes right before bed. And all those change of clothes? Sitting in a pile … an arm’s length away from the hamper. But every morning I wake up with the best intention to use the new day as a do-over for better adulting and mommy-ing; however, by the end of the day, we’re both emotionally drained.
But there are two things we do together that almost always pushes the pause button on our constant mommy/daughter struggles: shopping and hiking. One brings us home less a few dozen dollars in the bank, so I try to avoid that option. But hiking always seems to break down the barriers and offer a welcomed reprieve from our bickering – albeit short, but I’ll take anything.
Sometimes after a VERY LONG week, we ditch the boys and go for a Mommy & Me Hike and spend some quality one-on-one time together. Our times together on trail are opportunities to talk, listen and mend. We’re both more relaxed, conversations flow easier and I see an inkling of that mom I was hopeful I’d be one day to a daughter.
And I am always humbled when I watch my daughter on the trail. She carries half her weight in supplies and never complains; she treks up and down canyon and mountain trails like a pro; and she fearlessly tackles shaky stairs into canyons that would’ve made me quit less than halfway through (which I only made it by taking deep breaths, putting one foot in front of the other and focusing on her back).
On the trail, she and I are different people. My tone softens and my steps feel lighter; I temporarily forget the dozens of tasks on my to-do list; and my spirit feels restored. And I notice my daughter matches my stride so we walk side by side, making it easier to talk to each other; her defenses are down and she smiles more; and her eyes sparkle when she looks at me, reminding me of the little girl who thought I was the best thing in the world next to chocolate.
There’s something about the trail that brings a sense of connectedness with others. It invites people to get to know one another without reservations … or say nothing at all and settle into a comfortable silence. The vast space that is the outdoors unifies people and brings an awareness of being together in the same experience while keeping each person centered and refreshed. And just like the sunshine and rains that make the trees grow all around, nature nurtures relationships that need repaired, promotes new friendships and creates tighter bonds.
October 20 is Take Your Daughter on a Hike Day, an event hosted by Hike Like a Woman. Invite your mom, daughter, grandmother or any woman and girl in your life who is like a mom or daughter and devote some Mother/Daughter time in nature and fill your individual love tanks. Dads – this one is for you too! But don’t let it end there; schedule hikes together with just the two of you sometimes to rejuvenate … and don’t forget the chocolate treats!
What have been some of your experiences like hiking one-on-one with a kiddo? Share with us in the comments below!
Photos courtesy of Vong Hamilton.