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06/03/2010

Much Ado About Nothing

558061930_0f74be88f1 On Saturday my family plans to pile into our already mostly packed minivan and head out on the road. We’re traveling from NE Ohio to Glacier National Park in Montana, camping all along the way at various state and national parks and returning in 21 days. This will be the second vacation of this type I’ve taken with my husband, the first since we’ve had our son. Did I mention I’m five months pregnant and we’re taking my 13-year-old niece along with us?

It has become clear that this trip, while hopefully as full of adventure and amazing experiences, will not be like the first one. In our first trip, we slept in the minivan with a tent attachment on it to let in air. This time we got a six-person tent, because two adults, a teenager and a toddler should never ever sleep that close if they have a choice. I’m sure the teenager in question appreciates this perspective, though the time my husband and I got stuck in the snow for over 20 hours before flagging down help makes all of that extra body heat sound good.

What is funny to me is the reaction my in-laws are having to the news that we’re taking our toddler on a three-week camping trip. Surprise. Amazement. Befuddlement. Skepticism. Deep concern.  My husband’s grandmother advised us not to take our son, citing a trip she went on in which her then 3-year-old daughter almost “walked off the edge of the Grand Canyon.” My mother-in-law actually cornered my husband the other day and made us swear this would be a “risk free” vacation. As if we could actually go on any vacation and have it be truly risk free. She seems to think, though, that even though I am pregnant and we are now parents that we have the same mind-set we did three years ago.

Three years ago my husband made an error in judgment and we turned onto a snow covered road that got us stuck in the Big Horns overnight until he was able to flag down a snow plow. Three years ago we went on what is affectionately remembered as “The Death Hike” in Arches National Park that led to me succumbing to heat exhaustion in the desert. Three years ago we were driving through Yellowstone National Park and a grizzly bear came down off the mountain in front of us, and my reaction was to roll down my window and shoot a quick picture before putting the window back up. There was also that incident where I was, in my mind cautiously, walking around a herd of Buffalo and their calves taking pictures but to me that’s hardly worth worrying over since there were parked vehicles between us.

My mother-in-law seems to think that I will be foolish and do these things again. The truth is, I hope a bear does come off the mountain so the kids can see it. And I hope we do get to see a herd of buffalo and their calves up close again. But it would never occur to me to roll down my window or get out of the car this time. It was different when it was just the two of us. I was on an adventure and having experiences I’d never had before.  If I got hurt doing something stupid I’d have only myself to blame and will have gotten what I deserved.

But I am a mother now. For the first time in my life I’m having moments of panic wherein I envision a grizzly bear outside the thin fabric walls of our tent. Before I had my son my only camping worries were over the raccoons that invade campsites at night and the mosquitoes that find me delicious in the day. Now I’m picturing child-snacking ferocious animals that I can’t possibly protect my son from.  Heck, I can’t even pick my husband up from the dangerous neighborhood that he works in without wondering what I’d do if someone tried to carjack me when my son is strapped into the back seat.

The point is, I’ve changed. We’ve changed. Becoming parents has made us more cautious, more aware of our own mortality and more responsible with these lives we’ve chosen to bring into this world.

Will someone please tell my mother-in-law that she’s got nothing to worry about?

Original Ohio Moms Post

When she's not getting up-close and personal with wildlife, Audrey shares her trials and triumphs in being a modern-day housewife at Planet Hausfrau.

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