If ever I felt called to do something without knowing exactly why, it was to go to Hot Springs, NC this past Saturday. By mid-week I made a reservation for one of the hot tubs with the best view first thing when the resort opened at 10 a.m. Early that morning, I packed towels and enough layers for Baby T that we were prepared for any adventure that came along.
The morning soak was an absolute divine way to start the weekend. As I lugged our gear back to the car, my body felt relaxed. My gait a little looser, I decided to take Baby T on a hike. We walked from the town across the French Broad river to the Appalachian Trail. This particular trail was familiar to me, as a family we’d walked there many times before.
View from hot springs:
It wasn’t until we had started to hike that I realized that this was the very first hike that Baby T went on with his dad and I last year, almost a year ago to this very day. That day had been similar to this one – abnormally warm and sunny for late November. We had stopped at a rapid along the French Broad to give Baby T his first glimpse of whitewater, promising him it wouldn’t be his last. At first, I thought I’d be overcome with disappointment our hiking crew consisted of quite a different family than last year – it was Baby T, Moo Cow, and I. It took me a good bit into the hike to realize that I actually felt quite happy. Life hadn’t turned out how I wanted or expected, but it was good nonetheless.
Every mom I know admits to a certain relief of having made it through the first year of her baby’s life. Sure, there’s also a certain sadness that our babies are becoming toddlers and time passes too quickly. But that seems overshadowed for me by the fact that the risk of SIDs is in the past, I’ve gained confidence in my parenting skills, and Baby T has developed some independence.
It was this relief I felt. Even more, I felt a certain pride that I’m perfectly capable of taking Baby T hiking, just him and I (and Moo Cow, who seems to be accompanying us on more and more adventures these days). Not only did I feel like I was finally getting the hang of the single mom thing, I was really enjoying it. I realized how much I like being able to decide where to do, when to go, and how to introduce Baby T to the wold around him. As I hiked, I held the now slack head of sleeping Baby T, absorbed in thoughts about how much my little guy has grown and the gorgeous scenery around us.
As I continued along the steep incline up to Lover’s Leap where a Cherokee girl was said to have leaped upon hearing of her lover’s death, my thoughts turned to all the things I’m grateful for this past year. Here’s what I came up with: for my little guy’s smile; that I got to breastfeed him for six months; for the sensation of my milk letting down and that intimate connection and responsibility for the basic necessities of another person; each and every time he laughs; clothes for him that came from my family; holding him when he’s tired and having him wrap his little arms around my back; seeing how big he’s grown and knowing he’s healthy; the very moment he falls asleep and his body becomes heavy in my arms; when he gets so excited that he flaps his arms and jumps up and down; those early days full of cuddling when we both slept 20 hours a day (and needed it) on the futon in the guest bedroom as the sun filtered through the sheer curtains; all the meals and stories and hugs friends brought those first few weeks; my doctor – for always asking how I’m doing and offering a smile of support; and support, from random unexpected places, and especially from my friends and family. I’m also so grateful for all the birthday love he and I received and for feeling in such a good place for the year ahead! Ahhh, we made it!