Today's Labor Day post is from my favorite writer in the whole world: my husband Andrew. Writing about how parenthood often isn't what you expected, not only was kind enough to take the kids on an overnight camping trip but to then write up the experience as a post for me. It must be true love because who else would do something so nice?
I think we all have those times when we imagine how something is going to turn out with our children, the picture is so clear. Whether it's a perfect camping trip, vacation, help with homework, or whatever the case may be our child is looking at us with those approving eyes telling is in clear terms that we're a great parent.
Then the moment comes and it just doesn't happen with the feeling that, "Ugh, I'm just not a good parent."
The weekend I took the kids up to Independence Mine was one of those moments for me. Spencer turned eleven this year and is now officially a Boy Scout which I'm pretty excited about because it means we get to have some serious adventures together. I realize that the time for these adventures is limited before he's well into his teenage years--in no time he'll be working full time during the summer, will be off to college and things won't be the same--so I want to take advantage of this time and create those memories, have some fun, and be that great parent I've dreamed about.
So here was my vision of the hike I'd planned on the Gold Cord Lake Trail near Independence Mine in the Talkeetna Mountains north of Anchorage:
Spencer can't wait to go on the hike, it's all he can talk about. We get to the trail and have these great father-son talks. He talks about how much he loves to hike with me. We bond and remember the hike forever so when he's an adult he'll say, "Remember that hike?" and we'll both say, "Oh yeah, that was great!"
Here's how the reality goes: It's rainy and dizzly. Spencer doesn't want to wear the rain poncho because he thinks that he looks like a dork in it but he wears it because he knows he'll get real wet. I try to be upbeat and point to the ridge at the top of the mountain where we're going to hike but get no response. We start off and I try to strike up some conversation, but all I see is that dark cloud over his head and Spencer doesn't want to talk so we hike in silence. I can tell that he's miserable, but is only willing to continue to placate me.
We get to the top and the view is a spectacular--we can see all the way down the valley to Palmer, the lake at the top is incredible and so crystal clear and you can see to the rocks at the bottom. Spencer stands at the top and just stares off into the distance, but doesn't say anything. Then we hike back down.
When we returned finally to the car I said, "So, what did you think . . . did you have fun?"
"Oh, it was alright."
At which point I was hit with that feeling of "Ugh, I'm just not a good parent."
Now I know I shouldn't beat myself up, I'm just trying my best, but we all have those romantic notions of parenthood. In those rare moments it can happen but it normally doesn't we just need to keep trying.
Who knows? Maybe one of these days Spencer will turn to me as an adult and say, "Dad, remember that hike at Independence Mine? Well I know I was grumpy, but I appreciate you doing those things for me . . . it meant a lot."
To hike the Alaska Gold Cord Lake Trail drive to the Independence Mine parking lot past Hatcher's Pass then go to the side of the parking lot opposite of the mine. Walk about 50 feet toward the mountain and you'll find the trail. The trail is well marked, has a wide path, and is well maintained--younger children can hike it. The trail is about one half mile to the top to the lake and is moderately steep in parts. Look for marmots poking their heads in out of spaces between all the rocks.
This is still one of my favorite hikes in Alaska.
Sponsored by Dimples and Dandelions--for the Serena and Lily Bedding Collection for Children
Technorati tags: Alaska, hiking, outdoors