May 14, 2018

Mother's Day Reflections - Go Ahead, Ask Me Why I'm Late

As I was putting the finishing touches on this post yesterday, my son and his girlfriend arrived with gifts in hand and canines in tow, so we had an enjoyable visit.  After they left, my daughter and I spent some quality time together soaping up one of her tires with the hope of figuring out why it was losing air.  (Yup, that nail would be the reason.)  So, it’s my kids’ fault that this post is late.  Of course, if they weren’t around, I wouldn’t be writing it.  I am SO happy they’re here!!!

I first heard the song “Night Rider’s Lament,” written by Jerry Jeff Walker, more than 20 years ago when it was recorded by Suzy Bogguss.  Suzy is a singer and musician known in both country and folk circles.  Her voice is crystal clear, strong and smooth and it lends a certain poignancy to the song.

“Night Rider’s Lament” tells the tale of a cowboy, riding herd in the quiet of the night and highlights two perspectives of the job.  A friend, in a letter from home, relays a comment that the rider must be crazy to have given up the success of climbing the corporate ladder.  The night rider, in turn, points out things that he has seen and has experienced and the listener understands that the rider believes he has given up nothing and gained everything.

“Why does he ride for his money
And tell me why does he rope for short pay
He ain't a'gettin' nowhere
And he's losin' his share
Boy he must've gone crazy out there

Ah but they've never seen the Northern Lights
They've never seen a hawk on the wing
They've never spent spring on the Great Divide
And they've never heard ole' camp cookie sing”

At the time I first heard this song, I loved it for its support of a lifestyle that becomes more rare with each passing year.  Once our children came along, I never listened to it again without comparing the night rider’s job to that of a Mom who chose to stay at home to raise children.  If you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard me say more than once, “To each his own.”  We are very fortunate to live in a country where we have to the freedom to choose the place we wish to live, the job through which we make a living and the lifestyle that best suits our individual needs and preferences.  For Alan and me, that meant that one of us would stay home to raise any children who came along.  At the time our son was born, Alan was well established in his career as a system analyst with a higher earning potential than my career in banking afforded.  So it was an easy choice for us and I became a stay at home Mom.

Our son, Ryan, was born into our family in 1994.  Our daughter, Kyra, was adopted from Russia in 2000 when she was just one week short of her first birthday.  So, there’s a five year spread between the two of them.

Having a little Mother's Day fun

Since Alan and I are long time campers and road trippers, we put forth a great deal of effort to ensure that both kids grew into successful travelers and enthusiastic adventurers.  By the time our RV adventures began in 2006, Ryan had been to Alaska twice and Kyra once, and both kids had traveled up and down the east coast with us. 

When Ryan was two, he went tent camping with Alan and me in Maine.  At the playground in the campground, our toddler took one look at the tallest slide I had ever seen and promptly started up without a second thought.  Our daughter, Kyra, when she was that age lived by the mantra “all by myself.”  If her brother could do, she could do it, too.  The fact that he had a five year head start on her didn’t slow her down at all.  I didn’t realize that motherhood would be punctuated by moments of extreme emotion:  exhilarating pride at their accomplishments, thrilling joy when they and their happy personalities were taking on the world with much success and heart-wrenching fear accompanied by full blown panic when misadventure struck.  My instinct was to corral and protect them and it was hard to fight that.  Alan urged them forward, encouraging them to test the waters, try new things.  I can’t say that any of us made it through their childhoods unscathed but, fortunately, the medical mishaps were (mostly) minor and everyone did survive.  (Ryan holds the record for the most serious injury; Kyra takes the prize for the number of emergency room visits.)  There were those middle school years during which Alan and I were sure that both kids had been magically transformed into aliens (“Who is this creature and why is it calling me “Mom?”) and “God, please grant me the patience to endure my blessings” became my favorite prayer.  Luckily, our happy kids returned eventually and then, suddenly it seemed, they were young adults.

Tourists in Washington, D.C.

From the time they were young, our kids have embraced travel and the adventure it entails.  Ryan does not remember his tent camping days, so it was when we bought our first travel trailer in 2006 that our family camping adventures truly began.  Ryan has logged nearly 40,000 travel trailer miles and Kyra over 50,000.  The time our family has spent on the road exploring America and our National Parks has led to some of the best memories I have as a Mom.  While I certainly do thrive on our family life at home, it really warms my heart to see the kids immersed in the beauty of this glorious country of ours.  We have biked on carriage roads built by the Rockefellers in Acadia and enjoyed popovers on the lawn at Jordan Pond there.  I’ve watched them climb down into a Native American kiva at Mesa Verde and explore Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.  They’ve been surrounded by bison at Custer State Park and gazed up at Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt at Mount Rushmore.  We’ve watched them swim in the Virgin River at Zion and hiked together among the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon in a land so very different from the forested mountains in which they grew up.

Alan and I have always felt that our obligation as parents was to raise kind, caring, courteous children who would grow up to be good citizens and independent adults who would make solid contributions to the communities in which they lived.  But our pleasure has been to share our adventures with these kids, to see the wonder in their eyes as America opened up before them and to savor their delight with each new experience.

Our intrepid explorers

Oprah Winfrey has been quoted as saying, “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”  Go forth, my children, and conquer.  May the memories of our family travels serve as a reminder that the world is waiting and your future adventures will be limited only by your dreams.  I love you guys – always have, always will.


  1. Nice post - motherhood is the best! We traveled our children as much as possible while they were young.

    1. Thank you, Ingrid! Of all of the jobs I've held in my life, motherhood has been the most difficult and the most rewarding!

  2. So lovely, Mary, and I do hope your children have been able to ride this as well.

    Our mothering paths have been similar! In adulthood, one of our daughters continues to love the grat outdoors, while the other is more city-fied. Her daughter, my granddaughter, however, does appear to love the great outdoors, and we'll be taking her to her first National Park in the fall, Shenandoah. She'll be four years old then, and we are so excited to introduce her to the Junior Ranger program.

    I second your sentiments about those teen years as well. Oh boy, it's amazing any marriage survives them! We are hoping our granddaughters will ser us as allies against Mom and Dad when that time comes! 😊

    1. The Junior Ranger program is wonderful! And I truly believe that the Rangers do an excellent and age-appropriate job of helping young children understand why it's important to be good stewards of our public lands. If your granddaughter will have the opportunity to visit other National Parks during her childhood, you may want to consider buying a National Parks Passport for her at Shenandoah. Our kids had great fun getting theirs stamped at each Park we visited then adding the Park's special sticker. It's like an activity book, a souvenir and a record of your National Parks travels all rolled into one.

      As for your granddaughters, I'm thinking that they already have you and your husband wrapped quite tightly around their little fingers. Just a thought . . .

      Thanks for stopping by, Tamara!


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