On our recent visit up *north* (meaning, Virginia) my parents took us on an awesome hike along the Potomac River, a trail called the Billy Goat Trail.
I had psyched myself up for days before this trip, knowing it would be the first time my kids would be hiking on big rocks, at relatively dangerous elevations, and I knew it would be a big lesson in trust for me.
Of course the kids were amazing. They just loved it, and they were strong hikers, climbing and exploring and using common sense, hydrating often, sensing which rocks they were comfortable climbing and how they were going to do it.
Thier Grampy taught them how to follow trail markers, and off they went, taking turns leading the rest of us through miles of woods, rocks, and riverside.
That’s no surprise, really. I knew they would be amazing and take my breath away.
The surprise is how easy it was for me to watch them do it… take the lead, climb unfamiliar paths and steep rocky inclines and navigate narrow ledges.
I really half thought I’d make us turn back before we went. But once we were there… I felt at peace, and an enormous pride swell up, and I was just grateful to be on the trail behind them.
Witnessing. Watching. There. But out of the way.
I really feel like I grew a lot as a parent that day. I learned to step back a little. Worry less. Smile more at it being “their turn” and not mine. I guess that’s what parenting is all about, really.
On the way up the trail, my son saw a baby turtle and moved him safely off the path, no doubt saving his life. I love Miles for noticing what I would have walked right by, and taking his own action to do what he felt was right.
On the way back, my daughter saw a rock that made a perfect heart. Knowing that I love hearts, she pointed it out for me. I love Clara for noticing what I would have missed in nature, and pointing out to me that love is everywhere. No matter who is leading the way, and who is trailing behind.
In both cases, the fact that I was walking *behind* my kids is what lead me to see their acts of kindness and to be able to share in them.
Walking behind my kids, watching them shine, is ten thousand times better then me getting to walk the trail first. I don’t even want to walk it first any more. And they don’t even need me to walk it side by side any more.
It’s time for them to walk it first, even in the rocky places. Even in the steep places. Knowing and truly trusting that they will still turn to me. Still feel that connection. Still show me the baby turtle and the heart shaped rock.
Damn I love those kids. Have I said that on this blog yet? xoxo