The weather was nice, Harper didn’t, have school, the entrance fee was waved and it’s my birthday so we went outside to Badlands National Park. We did a few small trails including a juniper forest and massive canyon but mostly we climbed and explored.
I’m slightly excited about the day, not because of something special planned but because I have nothing planned. An empty canvas waiting for its paint. The best thing about days with no plans is that nothing can go wrong you can’t be late when there is nowhere to be.
The greenhouse has been on my mind. My subconscious’ way of telling me to hold out hope, spring is near. It’s my first time in this greenhouse since I was a small child. I used to hate coming here because my mother keep us trailing her for hours going up and down the aisles and losing ourselves in the labyrinth of greenhouses. Today it is warm and the air was a mixture of fertilizer and nectar. There is a koi pond, one fish as big as my thigh. Harper was taken with the them, Willem snug against me was awed with the red circus trailer and of course, the popcorn. We wander, whispering past seedlings, being sure to not scare them, stunting their growth. We looked at lemon trees (I must go back and get one) and name every garden animal we see “a frog! a pig! a bunny!” We smell, touch and eventually pick out a few to take home. Willem keeps ahold of a small, round petaled succulent in his chubby toddler hands, breaking off only 3 petals before we leave.
In the car we talk about the seeds we were going to plant, how with care, love and attention they will grow out of the dirt and sprout into flowers. While we talk of flowers blooming from tiny seeds and I contemplate which road to take.
We drive through into the forest, eyes open for big horn sheep, deer, turkeys. We turn corners over the winding river, past our old house, to the T where the road ends and we end up at the lake.
There is no other car in the parking lot. I didn’t expect there to be. I unload the boys and we take off to throw rocks into the lake. A simple thing that brings insurmountable joy to young boys, or rather all boys, I remember my first camping trip with their father, watching him throw rocks off of a cliff. Today the lake is mostly ice and instead of a splash we get only slides.
Harper leads us down paths and over bridges, we’ve come all this way but we still have no agenda. Willem clings to me, his warm little head bounces between my chin and chest as he struggles between his curiosity to see the world and his stubbornness to touch me, proving to us all that no matter where we are or what we are doing, my attention is always held captive with him.
Returning to the still empty parking lot we take our time eating crackers and bananas in the back of the car, our goodbye ritual to any trail.
A few years ago I took a pretty in depth personality quiz. I remember it was long and I remember hearing “if you get this answer (the answer I did get) then you probably don’t have a lot of friends.” For some that might seem harsh but in my mind I thought: Yes! I haven’t had many friends, I can’t help that, it’s just how God made me! I was fairly relieved to have an excuse as to why I didn’t seem to have a gaggle of girls to go to constantly, even my bridal party was a one person party, my sister. To further explain the “you have no friends” answer it was answered that I tend to be overly honest, blunt, loud, and I have a general social disability when it comes to taking the first steps in a friendship. Add in the fact that I wear my emotions on my face (and my emotions are usually disapproval for some reason) and you do not have someone with many close friends.
So growing up I constantly had a good girl friend but it was usually only one. Don’t worry, I still had friends, most of them boys, some girls but I usually kept them at arms length because I didn’t need a large amount of friends it felt like too much responsibility when I just wanted to play, I just one or two really good ones to rely on and in return I was a good and reliable friend to them. Even from a young age I hated drama and kept it to a minimum.
I remember when we moved across town the summer after 4th grade. I attached myself to the other new girl when we started 5th grade at our new school. When October came around I asked her point blank if she would go trick or treating with me, really I had no one else to go with because she and I were the only two that lived in our new development, but she liked soccer and also had dark hair and freckles like I did. After that we stuck together and played every day except Sundays and Wednesdays. Right before 7th grade I moved to Arizona, and Megan came to visit during spring break, she confessed that she did not like me before I asked her to go trick or treating (I was loud and confident or as I like to say now, I was a boss), she had no one else to go with so she said yes. This confession actually did not hurt me, it did surprise me a little but it more just reaffirmed how I had always felt about myself.
This is how my life has played out. I wear my emotions on my face too often. I’m timid about approaching other females, and in return they see me as intimidating (my college roommates would tell me this later after remembering our first encounter where I said little to them because I was shy, yet they saw it as aloofness).
Now that we live in a place I consider our forever home I’ve revisited what it is to make friends again especially with kids in tow. Many moms feel anxiety when it comes to making friends. Part of this is just the everyday stress that having kids creates making it hard to make plans or even phone calls but another part is the fact that we have created or been warned about mommy wars. We want to be friends with those that support us so if we feel like we are being judged for whatever parenting choice we make shy away from others who are not in the same situation making of a whole new level of insecurity. This isn’t good, plain and simple, on both ends we need to be more open, willing to put ourselves out there and more accepting of those that do not make the same choices we do. I look for friends who are understanding, support me, keep me honest and are honest with me (and preferably love wine, food, don’t mind messes, are flexible and laugh a lot). I accept them how they are and hopefully they do the same for me. I look forward to making new friends, I feel like I can pick them out pretty easily but it’s hard for me to make the right steps towards companionship without being super awkward.
So what is my friendship situation like currently? I’m in love with my long-term friends that are spread all around the states and here in S. Dakota. I’d say I have two very close friends that I can lean on anytime and a few more that I’m hoping grown into great friendships. I feel supported and loved, I am not alone, it’s encouraging and wonderful, a nice way to live.
If you are a mom or are moving to a new area or both here is what I suggest to make friends: Find local activities, MOPS groups, Hike it Baby groups, find a local church that you like, get a part time job, volunteer, go to library story times, sign up for an adult education class, or join a yoga studio. Find something that you like to do, be brave and put yourself out there and the universe will bring you someone to you, be patient and open, sometimes the really good ones take a while to appear.
This weekend we went to Elk Creek, only 20 minutes from our house. It was a perfect day and a perfect walk for Harper because there was water to play in and rocks to climb on. Chad had fun with bouldering, we spent a lot of the walk looking for rock climbing routs and wondering why there weren’t any bolts to be seen (I think because it was sandstone but still, couldn’t you put bolts deep enough to make sandstone safe?), there are some perfect cracks and climbs up there. Harper didn’t climb high but we did teach him about hand and foot holds and he practiced a little, he ended up settling for climbing the boulders on the ground which is still good for us.
The trail is 2.7 miles before a turnaround where it meets the centennial trail. We stopped about a mile short because Harper was tired and we were getting a little hungry. It wasn’t a hard or strenuous trail at all but we spent most of our time playing, climbing and talking with Harper so we had been out a while. Hiking with small kids isn’t as easy as walking but it is much more fun. When we first arrived at the trail head there was only one car and it wasn’t parked anywhere near us. When we got back we had a laugh at being surrounded by other subarus, guess we live slightly similar lifestyles.
Be honest, it’s pretty great out here isn’t it? Add milk 70 degree weather in mid October and we have nothing to complain about. The trail itself was very well maintained, people and dogs we saw were friendly, we didn’t see any garbage and it was never past the difficulty of a 3 year old so it is ranked pretty high on our list of favorites. If this is the last hike of the year I won’t complain (though it would be nice to get more hikes in, schedules and weather may not play along).
It has been an interesting summer. We’ve moved, fought illness, tried to settle into a new home and routine. In all of the stuff we’ve been stuck doing we haven’t had much time to get outside. Being outside is one of the things that makes Chad and I tick so when we get stuck doing things or even being outside separately we just don’t feel like we are living life how we truly want to. Therefor, even though Chad had been under the weather Friday, I was adamant about getting outside on Saturday. I’m pretty sure Harper hasn’t been for a hike since I was (very) pregnant with Willem and we were all missing out because Harper LOVED the “walk” so much that he actually never walked but instead ran the entire trail of Roughlock Falls in Spearfish Canyon. The only time he stopped was to hide on the side of the trail in order to scare me.
Roughlock Falls is a little over an hour away from our house in Spearfish Canyon, a local attraction that is normally pretty popular this time of year for all the changing colors. The trail is fairly short and excellent for small children. Even around the falls and the water walk out there is railings that are 3 year old boy proof. The end is pretty to look at also.
After a quick lunch in the back of the Subi we headed over to my grandparents new place. Willem is getting better about not needing me, even went on a walk with Grandpa.
Then we went to the Spearfish pumpkin patch. The patch has some great activities for kids, a hay jump (stacks of hay piled high with old mattresses at the bottom for cushioning. This must be a midwest thing because I had never heard of it until we moved here), a corn sand box which is great for playing with tractors and dump trucks, and a little jungle gym made of old tires and ropes. Both boys had a blast. The pumpkins were not the best price or quality but they are actually grown right there and hay (haha), you pay for the experience of it all right?
When I asked Harper later what his favorite part of the day was, he said going for a walk. I guess that means we will be heading out somewhere new shortly, especially while we still have mild temps here.