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Friday, April 28, 2017

How I Embraced the Role of "Adventure Mom"


I'm not exactly high maintenance, but I rarely leave the house without makeup and wear bright lipstick everyday.  I enjoy sparkly jewelry and high heels and think a bubble bath is the ultimate luxury.  I'm the last person you would think of as an adventurer.  But a flip switched when I became a mother and I innately wanted my children to value time outdoors and to be confident in their natural abilities.

Add to that, we live right near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the space for (inexpensive) adventures is just so available.  My son was only two months old on his first trip to the mountains.  He has grown up being confident about tromping through streams, forging through trails and absorbing the sounds of nature.

During my single mom years, heading to the mountains was a saving grace for me with three children.  There is no cell service or wifi, no goofy cartoon noises and no one to be bothered with the rambunctious noises of three young children.  They could throw rocks in the river for hours and "hike" the walking trails on their own.  They gained a sense of accomplishment and freedom that we couldn't have found in the neighborhood.  I believe it was during these preschool and early elementary years where we adopted the general mentality that this is where we go to be together, to connect and to make memories.  It's where I established my free range parenting philosophy.

This is also the period in life when I went on my first road trip with three young children - that is an adventure unto itself!  But what really happened is that I adopted a "Can-do" attitude toward challenges and my children picked up the same attitude along the way.  Now, they just assume I'm up for just about any adventure.
My first trip to the mountains with my children
and Mr. Wonderful.  Look at the fairy wings!

We continue hiking as a family, even more exciting as we became blended because it is something we can all do together.  It's not easy finding an activity that kids ranging from first to twelfth grade like, but hiking worked for us.  We do it on weekends, holidays and vacations.  Whenever we can escape, we try to do so.  All of us go together, or we just take whoever is available.  We like to bring friends, too.  Some of my best bonding with my step daughters has been side-by-side, hiking in nature.

Hiking provides lots of one on time
for talking or just being together.
Soon, my oldest son will turn thirteen.  For his birthday, he wants to hike Mt LeConte as a right of passage.  So, we've been working our way up to the eleven-plus mile distance and terrain.

Clearly, my son didn't have any concern that I was capable of completing his dream.  In his mind, I'm already the "Adventure Mom" so it was natural to assume I would help him accomplish his goal  And so, I will.

How to do it?  Just embrace the role and look for it: Adventure is Out There!

The little guy was only five years old when he completed this five mile hike.

The waterfall was worth the whole 8+ mile hike, and we saw two bears.