Two days before our first child turned one month old, my husband and I watched as all of our belongings were boxed and packed into crates. We said goodbye to our things, and began three months of extended hotel stays and visits with family. We crossed the entire continental United States before flying to Hawaii, our new home.
As a family that moves frequently, it can feel like we’re grasping for straws when trying to establish routines. I still look back on our last move and wonder how I did it: a new mother, an infant, no schedule for months, no home to hide in until I got a grip on what it really meant to be a mother. I was overwhelmed and tired, and wishing I could nap in my own bed. At the time, being nomads seemed like a burden, but now I see it for the gift it was.
Because we didn’t have a home, we had no choice but to take the baby to restaurants and on runs to the store when we realized we had accidentally packed something we needed. When we reached Hawaii, I felt like I needed to stay on the go. I was more comfortable exploring the island than staying in the hotel room, and my infant son was content going wherever I wanted as long as he could snuggle up to me in the carrier.
That was when we found the outdoors. That was when we started hiking just about every weekend and made it our mission to routinely discover new beaches. Through constant change, nature became our anchor. It was a place we went for familiarity. We have hiked, swam and camped while living on this island. Nature has brought us closer as a family. It has given us goals to strive for, hobbies and traditions. It has challenged us, while also filling us with an immeasurable amount of wonder and hope.
Through constant change, nature became our anchor. It was a place we went for familiarity.
As I grew as an outdoors-woman, I simultaneously grew as a mother. It is true that both require instinct, but both are also learned skills that require practice and patience. I quickly became more sure-footed with each. It was almost as though mothering gave me the strength to tackle any trail, and adventuring gave me more confidence in my ability to raise my child. Because I didn’t have a community to lean on, I leaned on the outdoors, and it did not fail to provide.
As I grew as an outdoors-woman, I simultaneously grew as a mother...Mothering gave me the strength to tackle any trail, and adventuring gave me more confidence in my ability to raise my child.
When I think back on my first few times on the trail, and on my first few months as a mother, I can hardly recognize that version of myself. I was so timid and unsure. I remember stumbling on easy, wide trails, and then going home and stumbling through our bedtime routine. The first hike I did here on Oahu was called Manoa Falls. It’s a very popular, heavily trafficked and well maintained trail that ends at a beautiful waterfall. By the time I reached the waterfall I was out of breath and nervous about the mud on what seemed like a LONG way back down. I ended up slipping and was so upset even though both my son and I were fine. Today I can walk to the waterfall in under twenty minutes. My three year old hikes it like a champ, while my one year old snoozes against my chest. It’s amazing to see my transformation over the last few years. It’s amazing to now be comfortably scaling cliffs in the rain, and then going home and getting both kids to bed without a hitch when the thought of bedtime used to be one of my major stressors.
Both motherhood and the outdoors have filled voids I didn’t even know I had. They have fulfilled and completed me in ways I never could have expected, and have prepared me for anything that life may throw at me.
Moving can be lonely. It can be hard to establish friendships, and I have a knack for bonding deeply with people right before one of us leaves. But through the outdoors, I have met some of my best and most loyal friends. We have grown together in our abilities, and together we have gained confidence to tackle both a challenging trail and the demands of motherhood.
As we near our next move, I know we will again be faced with challenges. We will have to say goodbye to our friends. We will be far from family again. We will be back to quick meals and hotel rooms. Even though we won’t know a soul at our next destination, we will have our boots and our gear. From day one, we will be ready to adventure, to gain an intimate knowledge of our surroundings that so many others never attain. When we are outside, we are home.