Friday, August 19, 2011

Country Mouse

I grew up in rugged, isolated environments, and learned early on which spiders I could pick up and which ones I should leave alone. Cities astounded and bewildered me, and it wasn’t until I reached my teens that I began to wonder if I’d missed out by being a country bumpkin. I always envisioned arriving at motherhood in similar surroundings, clucking after a brood of tough, grimy, tree-climbing kids.
Indeed, my twins were born when my ranger husband and I were living in a mountain town of 90 residents at the base of a little known volcanic wilderness. As soon as I could roam again we strapped the little ones into carriers and resumed hiking and exploring together. I held bruised fir needles under my infants’ noses and encouraged them to examine the various types of bark that armored the native trees.

Postcard - Aerial View of Washington, D.C.
Photo Credit: adam79
Imagine my shock when we learned that my husband had been accepted by the park service in DC, and we’d soon be replacing dirt trails for multi-lane freeways! I was nervous on a personal level, but looking forward to reaching beyond my comfort zone—but what about being a mom? Would I be sacrificing my dream of raising children who are at home in nature?

We arrived in Maryland in October of last year, and I was relieved to see how many trees and green spaces have been preserved throughout the urban communities. The transition was made easier after I found the nature centers and park trails abundant in Montgomery County. The variety of cultures, cuisine, and entertainment blew me away. Access to new friends at NMDCM was a bridge to my new life.

Still, the wailing sirens that stream by haven’t yet faded into the background for me. I can feel the concrete pressing in just out of sight of the park boundaries. I miss the wild miles between me and city living. It will take time to fully embrace this change, but it contains many opportunities I’ve not encountered before.

My husband and I are determined to give the best of both worlds to our children. We take them camping, peach picking and creek exploring in the same week they attend story time at the library and play dates at Splash Playground. I find it humorous that the cell phone ringtone is of Grace imitating a siren, and that Noah is obsessed with buses and loves riding the metro. I’m relieved that Grace likes playing in mud and Noah chases ants with his fingertips and notices every bird.

Am I a concerned that neither child is able to fall asleep in our tent without a sleep-inducing car ride? Not really. Does it bother me that my children aren’t free to wander, but must be tightly contained in our tiny common space so they don’t head into the street? A little. Will I get over it? Absolutely.
Kids Camping
Photo Credit: Michael McCullough


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