I feel like I’m cheating while on this adventure. We booked a week in Jackson Hole, WY thinking we would be ready for a long shower after a week of camping. We also knew the kids would enjoy having time in town and feeling a sense of independence getting ice cream or walking to the park adjacent to where we stay.
I have all but cried the whole way to our new stop. I want my trailer back. I want my family crammed into tiny spaces because it is where we connect the most. We pulled up to my favorite campground only to hustle our clothes and food into the truck. It was time to take our belongings to the condo we rented for the week. Our time on the road is ending. I feel only sadness. I’m watching everyone in the campground set up tents in preparation for the 4th festivities and here we are packing out, not in.
My kids have retreated to old habits, begging to hit the toy store, fighting over the bigger room. I feel like we have failed as parents. The week we carved out driving across the Pacific Northwest was special for so many reasons…we were together as a family of five taking on adventure and choosing our next steps.
Now we are back to a place with limitless options and thousands of distractions. A place that offers a different type of freedom than I’m ready for. This is a place where the kids can walk further out to test their own independence.
Reflecting on freedom is important on a holiday such as this. It means so many different things depending on your age, your experience, your view. As my oldest plays pick up 5 vs 5 games out on the courts and my youngest is trying out the monkey bars, I feel an anxiousness for them both.
All of our kids are growing up, each want to feel out the thrill of freedom for where they can go. I’m holding my breath as one stretches out for the easy lay up he might just miss and get his new teammates trash talking. The youngest is trying to stick the landing, letting go of the bars with no broken bones. As a mom with ten years stretched out on this playground, I know I’m holding on too tight.
All of this holding on forces me to think about letting go…to set free. We can provide as much adventure and risk in all we do as a family, but our three will remember our journeys in their own way. They will each test the limits of freedom and we can only hope we have given them enough time and space with us that they will have the tools they need to tackle their moments.
I sit on the bench and let myself have my moment of sadness, while Tommy sits beside me with his hand on my shoulder offering all of the comfort he could give. Without having to say anything, he knows where the tears are coming from.
My daughter who pays attention, just like her daddy, is watching and asks if I’m crying. This is her moment on the playground, her happy place in Jackson Hole, so I lie and say I’m not. They love this place because we brought them here. We have made it a place to remember, whether we stayed in the wooded campground of Gros Ventre or whether we stretched out in a beautiful condo in town.
I’ll be over myself soon.
We hit the toy store first and order dinner from our favorite place here and we settle in our new place just fine. We will have the Tetons to explore, cold lakes to swim in and we will all still be together.
We can also play a family game of Old Maid stretched out in a king size bed.
A tiny sacrifice for this type of freedom.