Worries Tug On A Mother As She Prepares For Thru-Hike
A warm bed.
Everybody who hits the trails for an extended period of time has to make the decision to leave certain things and people behind. Leaving these things behind may be precisely the reason for hitting the trail, or maybe having to leave them behind is a struggle and a source of doubt, guilt or uncertainty.
What I Am Leaving Behind
I am no exception. There is one person who I struggle over leaving behind. He is Twin A, my firstborn, my 13-year-old charming and witty redhead whose stubbornness and quick temper are adequately suited to the color of his hair. His brother, Twin B, loves to hike and will be my companion on the AT this spring. Twin A is not a hiker.
Having twins is a challenge, especially when they react together like oil and water (despite loving each other to death). Time apart may be just what they both need to aid their independence. For this reason, I am looking forward to finding out how they both mature and grow while they are apart. However, as a mother, leaving one child behind for five months is difficult. It causes me a small measure of guilt, and at times it makes me uncertain. Not only is he going to be away from his mother, but I am taking his best friend and closest companion away from him too.
The Whole Picture
Long-distance hiking is a test of mental fortitude. If you only watch the bloggers and vloggers who show you the inspirational views, the blissful moments and the triumphant finish at the top of Katahdin, you’ll miss out on half of the story. When they reveal their aches and their pains, and you can see that their throbbing muscles and exhausted feet are wresting against their determination to endure, then you will have seen more of the truth. But it isn’t until they divulge that inner tug of war, those people or things that are both pulling them from the trail and pushing them toward it, that you will see the complete picture and know how truly difficult it is to both reach Katahdin and return from it.
Does leaving a child behind increase my chances of thru-hike failure? Or worse, does it make me selfish and a bad mother? I suppose there will be a wide variety of opinions on those two questions. The best answer I can muster up is, “I sure hope not!” However, what I do know for certain is this: My boys watch their mother just as I watch them. As a family, we celebrate all of our individual and corporate successes and mourn all of our individual and corporate failures, together. I have a strong desire for my sons to see me succeed and to celebrate with me. This is what will carry me to Katahdin.
What About You?
Are you headed out on a long hike this year? If so, what will be tugging at you from home, testing your mental resolve? What is going to help you overcome this internal struggle and get through the next 100 miles…. and the next?
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