Unexpected Lessons learned
Saturday we decided to hike to Primrose Overlook as a family and invited Justin's brother's family to come with us. All of our kids are the same ages and genders which means the kids all have a bestie to hike with. I did this same hike a couple weeks ago so I went into it knowing it might be a little tricky with 8 young kids, colder temperatures, and the chance of getting caught in a rainstorm. But we love a little adventure, the fall leaves are gorgeous right now and we decided to go for it. What I didn't know was that the lessons I'd learn on that hike wouldn't have anything to do with any of that.
It took quite a bit longer for all 12 of us to hike to the top. We stopped for snacks, to walk across dead logs, and just enjoy all the beauty. All of the kids were such troopers pushing through a longer hike in chilly temperatures.
I wasn’t sure how Landon would do on this hike but we have always wanted to live life like we normally would. We want to give Landon the same opportunities we would give any of our kids even if that meant carrying him if it got to be too much. He started out the hike last and to my surprise immediately made his way to the front. He was jogging with everything he had, determined to lead the pack.
The mom in me felt a bit protective wanting to be right by his side because the ground is very uneven, there are tree roots popping out of the ground and I didn't want him to trip and hurt himself. Holding Ava's hand, I kept yelling to him to slow down a little and stay where I can see him. But he has become a little bit more stubborn and a lot more determined and he would not listen to me. Eventually I caught up to him and tried to reason with him that it's not a race and that we are all here just to have fun. But he insisted and something in me said, "Lindsay it's okay, just let him". I think sometimes as parents we do things that aren't logical, may seem a little unsafe or against our instincts because something inside of us is telling us that what's happening is more important.
Landon led the hike 3/4 of the way up, which to be honest really surprised me. It wasn't like everyone was just letting him be first, he was actually going that fast. He fell a time or two but nothing major and a little fall here or there doesn't phase Landon. He just gets right back up.
Then came a steeper part that was very difficult to walk down for all of us. I tried with all my might to help Landon down as quickly as I could because he was becoming increasingly upset as we fell farther and farther behind everyone else. I tried to reason with him and tell him that I just needed to help him through this one part and then we would catch up and he could run again. I tried to tell him how proud I was of him because what he was doing was really hard but all he think about was the fact that he COULDN'T do this particular part like everyone else. I could not comfort him or talk him out of it.
We finally reached an open meadow and I told him that he was free to run to catch up and lead everyone again. Very quickly the meadow ended and incline made the hike increasingly more difficult. After a few minutes, he gave up and let his body fall to the ground, his face cherry red breathing heavily. Feeling defeated, he said "you can all go ahead of me, it's fine". I picked him up and tried to reason with him, I tried to tell him how great he's doing, how it's not a race he needs to try to win and that we are just here to have fun together. But he was upset and my words fell on deaf ears. I became increasingly frustrated because I just wanted him to see him how I see him. I wish that I had been more patient in that moment but I wasn't.
The truth was I wasn't frustrated with him at all. I wanted him to realize how hard this hike was and how hard he was pushing his body. I wanted so badly for him to recognize that what he was doing was not only hard but almost unthinkable for someone with his condition. I wanted him to see that he DIDN'T take the easy way out and ask Dad to carry him the whole time. He never ONCE complained that it was too hard or too long. That he chose to give it everything he had, until he literally fell to the ground.
My heart was broken for him and I couldn't fix it. He was upset that his body couldn't do something that he watched his cousins do with ease and I couldn't change that. I knew the pain he was feeling and I felt it too, which is why I lost my patience with him because in that moment I was upset too.
Eventually he calmed down and finished the treacherous part of the hike with help from Dad, Aunt Mindy and Turin because at that point I was the last person he wanted help from:) The last five minutes of the hike he finished on Dad's back.
I've thought a lot about it since that day because anytime we don't have one of our shiniest moments, it gives us a chance to reflect. I tried to figure out why he couldn't he see all that he COULD do? How what he did was not just amazing, it was exceptional. That he has enough fight and determination inside that little body to change the world. And why wouldn't he listen to me? Why couldn't I help him see himself for who he really is? Why was is that all he could see was what he COULDN'T do, what he felt limited in, what he felt everyone else could do with ease?
But then when I really thought about, I was doing the same thing. I was beating myself up over being impatient in that moment when I spent the majority of the hike telling him how amazing he is. I think we all struggle as human beings to focus on what we aren't good at, what we can't do as well as others, our weaknesses, and our moments at fault. Others can see our strengths but we don't always listen to them. It has to come from inside.
I even questioned whether I was wrong to bring him on such a hike. Was I unintentionally setting him up to feel this way? But then when I really thought about it, if we only do things that we can do perfectly, think how much life we miss out on because we were afraid to try or not do it as fast as the person next to us. I would much rather get to see the top of a mountain with my own eyes even if someone had to hold my hand to get there.
"The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best"- Henry Van Dyke
Get outside of your comfort zone. Believe in yourself. Be kind to yourself. Fight like Landon does everyday because you will want to see the top of that mountain for yourself, I promise.