I wanted so badly to be able to hike out of Damascus, VA with the kids. I had already missed several days of hiking with them. I tried to hike the Virginia Creeper Trail with them, but about 7.5 miles in, I was having a hard time walking. The pain in my right leg was radiating and becoming unbearable. Moreover, I am afraid that if I don’t give the injury proper time to heal, I just might not be able to hike on further down the trial. Ryan and I made the decision that I should get a ride back to town, and get it checked out by a doctor. I still haven’t gone to the Urgent Care, but plan to on Tuesday morning.
Saturday evening, I stayed at Ms. Patricia’s apartment with Pigpen and a couple of other gals that she has been hiking with. It was nice to be with a familiar face and friend. Pigpen had missed out on Ava’s birthday party, and when I was describing the sopapilla cheesecake to her, she was so sad that she had missed it. So I decided to make a small batch for everyone. It was really good.
Sunday morning came, and it was so hard to wake up without the kids around. I have only missed one Mother’s Day with the boys, and that was because I was in Africa with the girls in 2013. I found myself completely alone, and really really down.
I went into town to grab a few things for breakfast, and not long afterwards ran into a couple of hikers that had been with the family a couple of days back. It was nice to meet them and chat for a while. About 10:45, they asked me if I wanted to go to church with them. They told me that the gal that ran the inn that they were staying at for the evening had invited them to the Baptist church, so I decided to go. It was so nice to be in church. I have really missed it while we have been out here.
When we go there, people were so friendly. The AT actually runs right in front of the church steps. They love to love hikers, and it was obvious that they did not care that I was wearing hiking garb… thankfully I didn’t smell like a hiker. The message was about the impact that mothers and grandmothers can have on the generations to follow them. The pastor shared several thoughts on the way that Timothy’s mother and grandmother had impacted his life. As I listened, I realized that I needed to be reminded of some of these key points. My job as a mother is an invaluable one. I needed to be reminded of this, as we prepare to hike on.
Ryan and I had a conversation as we were hiking the Creeper Trail about his experiences with the kids over the past few days. He challenged me to let the kids do more. He said that in my absence, the kids took on responsibility that I don’t typically allow them to assume. I guess that part of training your children is allowing them the opportunity to use it. My children are a blessing to me. They are not only capable, but they are willing to rise to the opportunity to serve. I need to allow them to do this more often.
It was hard to not be with the kids and with Ryan on this special day, but it was made uniquely special for me following the service, when Mrs. Susie Montgomery invited me to stay in her home (not her inn, but her home!) It was beautiful, and I was able to sleep in a bed, in a room all to myself, rather than sleeping in a hostel surrounded by other hikers. I didn’t know that I needed that as much as I did, but certainly it was a gift.
I put my pack upstairs in the little room, and then spent some time taking care of a few things in town, like paying the shuttle driver who had come to pick me up Saturday night. Then, I sat. I spent some time thinking about how many Fathers Days Ryan had missed. How many times he had been alone on a day meant to celebrate him, and his important role in our family. In those couple of hours, my heart hurt less for me, but more for him. Then, I rejoiced. It wasn’t but two years ago, that Ryan and I were separated, heading down the road to divorce. So many single parents are forced to fulfill not only their specific role, but also the role of their ex-spouse.
I cannot explain the level of joy and relief that washed over me when I realized that I am able to only be mom to my children, and that I will never again (as long as Ryan is living) have to fulfill his role, as well as mine, in our home. The days of deployment are behind us, and our marriage, and family has been restored.
I guess that I really needed to be alone, to see clearly the gift that God has given to our family. I needed to change my perspective. Though this Mother’s Day was not how I envisioned it, I realize now the grandeur of Gods redemption in our family. Ryan is with our children. They are growing and healing in this time away from me, and this in an answer to prayer. It is not about what I don’t have today, but what I have gained for many many years to come.
The message this morning, in combination with some time to let it all sink in, is a gift in and of itself. How many times have I asked God for a pause button, so that I could regroup and then continue! He answered that prayer as well!
After my time of pondering, I returned to the Montgomerys home. Susie asked me if I would like to go to dinner at Cracker Barrel. Well, of course I would! Since we have been out of the south, we’ve not been able to go to one. About 5:30, we headed out to dinner. I had breakfast for dinner, and it was delicious!!! What a treat!!! Mrs. Susie, and her husband, were just so kind. I loved our conversation. Their encouragement was so timely. They have such an interesting story of how they came to love on hikers in Damascus, and they do it so well.
We continued to have great conversation until late in the evening, when it was finally time to get some sleep.
I am learning that God knows far better what I need than I do. He longs to give me the desires of my heart. I am learning that sometimes I struggle with His timing, but I am learning that it is always perfect. This journey is also about ALL of us. Though it is an incredbile bummer to missing these miles, the beautiful scenery, the memories… these are days that Ryan is able to reclaim some of those things with our kids. The kids are also being given an opportunity to need him, to go to him, and to allow him to meet those needs.
In hindsight, this is probably one of the best Mothers Days that I have ever had.