We won’t judge.
At the beginning of every Hike it Baby hike, you hear these words. But we want you to know – we mean it.
We welcome everyone, whether it’s your first hike or your fiftieth. Whether this is the first time lacing up your hiking boots since baby was born and you aren’t sure how far you can go, or if you don’t even own hiking boots – we won’t judge.
We won’t judge if you show up to the hike with cereal in your hair. Or spit up. Or some combination of both.
We won’t judge you if you forgot a change of clothes and baby has a blowout the moment the hike starts and you have to improvise with some interesting outfits you found in the back of your trunk. We’ve all been there. (Right? Please tell me someone else has been there too and it’s not just me.)
We won’t judge you if you do cry it out, or if you co-sleep, or even after trying both of those your one year old still doesn’t sleep through the night. And we definitely won’t judge you if your baby magically started sleeping twelve hours a night at twelve weeks old, although we all might be a little jealous.
To us, it doesn’t matter what your family looks like. It doesn’t matter if your “baby” is really in second grade, because they never really stop being our babies anyway, do they? We welcome you if your kid has a mom and a dad, or two moms, or a grandma, or a stay at home dad, or a dad and a step-mom, two dogs and three chickens. Whatever combination works for your family works for us too.
We welcome you no matter what you believe in. If you believe in God, in nature, or if you believe you need another cup of coffee – you are welcome here.
We won’t judge if sometimes you bribe your toddler to hike a little farther with a cracker. And we won’t judge if by “sometimes” what you really mean is “all the time.” And we won’t judge if you’re that parent dragging a screaming kid away from the park because he wanted to go down the slide one more time even though he has already gone down three more times and it’s an hour past nap time, because we’ve all been there too.
When we go out on a hike, we don’t judge ourselves. We don’t walk along the path constantly doubting every place we put our foot, or ask ourselves, “Does that mom think I should have handled walking up that hill differently?” We follow our instincts, move at a pace that works for us, and enjoy the view, despite the occasional mishap. Parenthood is also a journey, but we don’t often allow ourselves the same experience. Just as with any journey, there are hills and valleys and we need to trust ourselves and each other to move through them.
The next time you show up at Hike it Baby hike and hear the leader tell you, “we won’t judge,” please know that it’s true. And then tell it to yourself, too.
Jackie is the branch lead for Helena, MT. She started the branch in an attempt to keep up with her oldest boy’s boundless energy. Jackie lives in Helena with her two boys, Gene (2.5), Charlie (1) and her husband, John. They love exploring the trails around their city.