The family & I just returned home from our vacation to the Wild West of Wyoming & South Dakota.  We traveled almost 3000 miles from the time we left to the time we pulled in the driveway.  This was an interesting vacation for me.  I learned a lot about myself on this trip.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Because I am a planner & I love themes I had chosen music, movies & books to correlate with the Wild West.  We listened to Little House on the Prairie audio style as we too traveled over the plains.  We watched Yogi Bear on the way to Yellowstone.  We listened to Mountain Music & Cowboy Ballads.  The boys were in heaven.  They are so into ‘surviving’ & hunting & the outdoors right now.  It was the perfect place for them to live out these dreams & embrace the possibility of really being a cowboy or survivor man.

In my personal time I too played on the theme by reading The Wild about a girl who survives in the wilderness by hiking the mountains.  I listened to music of my youth and as the miles rolled by so did the memories.  I spent a lot of time contemplating who I am, how I got to that point, and where I want to be.  I am at a very strange place in my life for me.  My baby will be starting Kindergarten in a few weeks and this stay at home mom of almost 10 years isn’t quite sure what to do with my life.  I keep plenty busy now with the farm and my little businesses but is that enough?  Sometimes I feel the need to get a real 9-5 job to feel better about myself when talking to friends & family.  I’ve always enjoyed working when I did have a job….I love interacting with the people.  But more & more I find myself drawn into myself & my home.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing I ask myself.

Our view from our campsite of the Snake River

I struggled with a lot of fears in those mountains.  I am afraid of heights.  Not just nervous about them but driving those curvy narrow roads I had full on waves of fear that would leave me pale and shaking with sweat down to my toes.  I thought about all of the reasons I have these fears and how I might be instilling them in my children without even meaning to.

We slept in a tent in the most gorgeous spot on the Snake River. We made it comfortable with raised air mattresses and the coolest outdoor kitchen.  Yet I would shiver in the cool mountain temperatures.  I had to shower after walking a way to get there and use port a pottys in the middle of the night.  Obviously these are not the typical vacation type amenities this girl envisions and so I found myself cranky & complaining.  Then I would read in my book where the author wasn’t able to shower for sometimes weeks and would wake up with snow crusted on her tent.  I would find myself not really liking what I saw in myself.

Hundreds of Wild Buffalo

The landscape up there is simply gorgeous and the sightings of animals in the wild was truly amazing.  Everything was so wide open, so untouched.  I felt so small among the majestic mountains.  I found I craved those wide open spaces away from the hustle and bustle of town.  Perhaps another reflection of myself & why I love it here on the farm.

Bull Moose. Mama with twin calves were just down the road.

Most of all I contemplated who I was as a mother.  I am so thankful for my 3 sons.  So blessed.  And yet having boys is a challenge for me.  I didn’t even grow up around any outside of neighbors and cousins.  I am the oldest of 3 girls.  How do I know what to give them and what they need?  They relished the time with their dad on the trip.  Often times I would argue that they shouldn’t be doing this or that and then I’d think to myself am I turning them into sissies?  Perhaps I should loosen the reigns.  As any parent I want to give them the best, to guide them to be the best.  But oftentimes me & my own fears get in the way.  (Pocket knifes & guns are a huge passion for my boys.  The day after we got home the youngest used a pocket knife and sliced his hand open resulting in 5 stitches.)

I found myself remembering that Proverbs 31 was written by a mother to her son about the kind of wife to choose …. not of a woman whom we can never be but that of what you want for your son….the best.  I listened over & over to Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd about all that his mom tried to instill in him.  And that is what I want …. for my sons to find joy & happiness in the simple things.  The wide open.  In themselves.

The 4 faces in stone aren’t near as precious as the 3 young men below are. I know their futures will be just as extraordinary.

My vacation turned out to be as monumental as these faces carved in Mount Rushmore.  I am a work in progress that will take my lifetime to carve out the finished product.  Some days I am blasting with dynamite and other days chiseling with small precise movements.  But it is all with a purpose and a vision of becoming something better and an example for my children.  Perhaps that is my greatest occupation.  No matter where I find myself spending my days while they are in school …to be the best mother, teacher, example I can be for them.  While this vacation might not have been full of the typical souvenirs of a bronze tan or trinkets & treasures I feel something significant has started from it.  And I hope someday I can be as the mountain reflected in the lake below….something strong & beautiful & complete.

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