Saturday, April 18, 2015

Alone Yet Not So Alone

Mike and Nick have gone camping with the Boy Scouts this weekend and I'm on my own. I'm not good at being on my own, but it was okay because five minutes after I began to weed a tiny spot in the yard and slow my breathing, Nick called and told me to bring his hammock. I insisted that he ask me nicely to bring the hammock before I agreed. I'm not sure when he got a fancy hammock to sleep in, but all the boys are doing it, so Nick's going to trying it out too, in a fancy new hammock that Mike probably bought for him while I wasn't paying attention. I hadn't even gotten settled down from the flurry of getting them down the driveway when Nick called. Sometimes it takes me more than five minutes after Nick leaves for my breathing to return to normal.

See, Nick seems to think that he can get mostly ready, mostly. That means that his backpack was packed, minus sun screen, bug repellant, his hammock, a tarp he decided was essential at the last minute, and please tell me he's packed his EpiPens and inhaler. I'm not at all certain he packed his EpiPens and inhaler. Then, regardless of how many times Mike told him to load it all into the truck before he turned the TV back on, he didn't. So, that all had to happen at T minus three minutes. And of course my boy tried to get it all out to the truck in one trip and was confused why we wouldn't drop what we were doing and pick up all the stuff he spilled in the driveway. It didn't help that his backpack wasn't zipped. We wouldn't drop what we were doing because Nick was supposed to calmly do this job twenty minutes ago so that he'd have time to make two or three trips and think, calmly, about any last minute items, such as the tarp and hammock, that he might want to bring.

And in the end, Nick made Mike ten minutes late. This happens every time we go out the door, only for campouts, it is made more complicated by the loading of the truck because of multiple-trip-to-the-truck problems. I'm glad that Mike refused to make himself twenty minutes late by trying to locate the last-minute tarp.

And the next thing I know, I'm standing among boys and men and just a few moms at the Scout shack, chatting it up before they all leave for their camping trip. After Nick came to get his hammock, I let the dog out so he could run with the boys for a bit. It's good for dogs and boys. I chatted easily because my job was done, nearly done. To be honest, it is my job to chat to dads and a few moms who are dropping off their boys. Of course it is. Mike is too busy to chat, organize gear, dedicate seats in various trucks, and gather all the necessary paperwork by himself. So, I gathered paperwork and chatted.

And suddenly, I was hugged and they were all loaded into trucks, gear was packed, and they were gone. I quickly ordered Teddy into the car so I didn't have to stand there and look pathetic after everyone left. I felt pathetic and elated at the same time.

How is it that being a mom is so complicated?

I should either be pathetic and lonely or I should feel elated and free, not both at the same time.

I still feel both, even now. So, Teddy and I took a long walk on the trail where we had seen our bears in the fall. I wanted to see the mamma bear. I wanted to see if the cubs had gotten big and grown hair on their legs. Oh, you know what I mean. My boy is at the age when one of his friends can suddenly sprout and look like a man in just two weeks. Shoot, I still look at Nick and wonder where my boy has gone and who is this hairy man-child? His face still looks boyish, but his legs are so seriously man-legs. His toes are still cute, bigger than they were, but cute still. But he keeps getting this hair that grows unevenly across his cheek. My child has stubble!

So, I wanted to see the big baby bears on the trail, even if I ran into momma coming around a corner, freaked her out, and found myself swatted down a hillside of sword ferns.

Maybe it was good I didn't see momma bear and her big babies. Teddy got very excited at one part of the trail and I realized that it was very nearly the same place we saw her the first time. He kept running up and down this side trail, one that ran straight up hill from where I stood. This was not a place where people had gone. I looked for elk tracks. Not elk either.

But there was a bear print.

I'm telling you that there were four toes in a row, with claw marks, and it was at least five inches across and dug deep like it weighed a lot. This was fresh evidence that I was on the right trail if that's where I wanted to be.

And then I realized that I was alone. I usually think, when I'm in the wilderness, how I'd call Mike first before I called anyone else, even the police. And today, because he was half way to the Mukilteo ferry, and he had a commitment to eighteen boys and four men to lead a camping trip, I wouldn't be able to call him the way I usually might. I'd have to call the police first, or Jennifer or Alison. Could I even call Alison? She still had that nasty cough that reminded me of the six times Nick had pneumonia. I actually got a little shot of adrenaline the other day when she and I took our dogs for a walk and she coughed. I thought of Nick immediately, my little boy Nick.

Then I realized that if I got mauled by an angry momma bear and her big strong hairy babies, I could probably call Alison and she wouldn't mind. I could call anyone on my phone, even Mike, and any one of them would come.

So, I took a good picture of these huge toe prints in the mud.

And I sent it to Mike. I guess I'm not so alone after all.

Thank you for listening, jb


  1. I have missed many of your posts for past month or may be more than that.I have been a bit lazy about my blogging lately and I blame it one some stress, some anxiety and some plain old tardiness! ...Sorry to know that you were not feeling great and I do hope that you are back on your feet again!I don't know why but when you write about your day, your life or your even your son- I say to myself- why, I feel the same..( I have a boy who has just started shaving! but I can still cuddle him occasionally )only I can never put my feelings in so many clever words like you do!Have I told you that already, you are star when it comes to writing.Its always a pleasure to read this diary of yours x

    1. Thanks Arti! I think of you whenever I see bunnies on the trail. They look at me with those same eyes that you paint so well. I don't see any elephants, but there was an Internet video of a baby elephant being rescued from a mud hole and that made me think of you. I appreciate all the compliments. It is funny that we each have that boy who is changing before our eyes, making us in the same place in parallel universes, you painting, and me writing.

      Paint on, my friend!