And not just within the community. But the reach of it.
I’ve talked before about the motivation I have found through Hike It Baby to get my kids outside. Going out in the rain, going out in record-breaking cold.
But going out solo is something else I can attribute to HIB. Especially the moms in my local branch, but all the parents out there posting their pictures on Instagram, and talking about their adventures in the facebook groups.
October of 2016 my mom was admitted to the hospital with severe neck pain after a fall down the stairs. After almost a month of testing, waiting, and a lot of non-answers, she finally got her diagnosis: her cancer was back. As soon as she told me, I booked a flight for me and the kids to Nashville so we could see her before her surgery. In retrospect, we didn’t really need to go–they bumped her surgery so we didn’t get there until afterwards anyway, and hospitals are a terrible place to have kids (especially since my son was only 6 months old at the time), so we spent most of our time at a nearby playground, or finding kid-friendly events to do in the area. By the time we got home I was utterly exhausted. It was my first time doing anything that extensive with both kids by myself, and flying, the hotel, being in an unfamiliar city: I cried more than once, and was never so happy to get home to Billy.
Since then, I’ve been hesitant to do a lot with the kids without him. I missed the Women’s March last year because Billy had to work, and I was unwilling to fight the crowds in DC with two kids without my co-parent. I’ll take them to the playground, but usually only if I have another mama there with me. Most of my solo-parenting has been just running errands–the things I have to do, but not a lot of the fun things.
This past Saturday was a beautiful day. 60 degree weather, sunny skies–the perfect day to be outdoors. We could have gone for a local hike, but the call for adventure was strong, so around lunchtime the kids and I packed the car….and drove the two hours to Virginia Beach. They ran around on the sand for a bit, played on the oceanfront playground, we got hot chocolate, I took them out to dinner…and we went home. It was a spontaneous day trip, and even though the wind on the beach was intense–and very cold–they loved it.
And it’s something I never would have done, without the influence of all the strong, adventurous mamas I have gotten to know in the last six months.
This year, we made it to the Women’s March. I drove the kids downtown with no clue if I would see anyone else I knew there or not, but with the confidence to go anyway. I’ve taken them on numerous hikes, both with HIB and with just us.
And yes–they are older. My son can walk, can drink from a sippy cup instead of just my breast. My daughter is an extremely intuitive, kind, helpful child, who (for the most part) stays close, can sense if I need an extra hand, and understands if I tell her a situation is dangerous.
But mostly it’s seeing other women do it. It’s having a friend who just had her third child, and gets out there tandem wearing on the trail. It’s the solidarity when other toddlers have tantrums, and knowing their mamas will take them out again the next time anyway.
Getting kids outdoors gives them confidence. It builds skills they won’t get inside, and the teamwork they demonstrate on the trail is mesmerizing. But even as adults, it’s good to know that getting outside still does the same things for us. So we keep doing it, again and again.