Lately I’ve been trying to hike at least once a week while my kids are at school. It’s apart of the self-care I have realized I need in order to thrive in my life, as opposed to just surviving as I was doing for many years. I live in the desert and it has been spectacular lately. I mean it-spectacular! Green covering what normally is brown, endless orange poppies and the occasional purple desert lupine. Because of this beauty, I have wanted to bring my kids to this favorite spot I found while hiking with my dog Sammy. At this special spot there is a dwarf Palo Verde tree growing out of a huge pile of white rock. I am drawn to the strength and adaptability of this tree; this place is serene and shaded. Today I was able to take my son to this place.
Today was Soliz’ first day of Spring break which began after my daughter had been home sick for almost 2 weeks (along with her Spring break, separate from my son’s). These are the weeks I dread. The weeks that I don’t know how I will get through. I woke up this morning feeling immediately anxious. Wanting to stay buried under the covers because I honestly didn’t know how I would get through the day. I have been burnt out these past couple of weeks. Not having time for self-care or work and very worried about my daughter. She seems to be my more complex kid; we have been dealing with chronic constipation, anemia and a bad eye infection but mostly she is just not herself, sleepy, lethargic and seemingly depressed. I have been worried, constantly and really missing her smile and her laugh. So when I knew today I would be home another day, not only with her, but now with my son, I was overwhelmed. When I finally pulled myself out of bed, I walked into the kitchen and found my husband at the kitchen table with his laptop open. He was clearly working on something; the kids were still in bed. I asked why he wasn’t yet at work and he told me he took sick day. I immediately started bawling, so grateful he would spend the day with us. So needing his support, more than I realized.
So we decided to take Soliz hiking! This is a bigger deal for us because Soliz doesn’t walk independently. Whenever we go to a new place, we have to think through all the steps ahead of time. How will we get him from point A to point B? Once we are there what will we do for mobility? The hiking area where we went today has a concrete accessible trail circumventing the main hiking trails but I wanted to take Soliz on the rocky, uneven trails. His current wheelchair is unable to go off-road so I knew we would have to carry him for the bulk of the hike. I grabbed the toddler-carrier that I use every once in a while for my daughter hoping he would work. It was a warm morning for March but we were determined see this adventure through.
The details that I would like to share here are one’s of persistence, determination and hope. We knew that when we got to the off-road trail we wouldn’t be able to go too far. Soliz is 42 pounds and low tone which means he is not able to hold up his own weight like most people so he can feel heavier to carry. We wheeled up the trail and got Soliz out of his wheelchair and hoisted him on to my back. It was a go! It felt so good to have him on my back knowing I could share my special spot with him soon.
Once we got to the place with the dwarf Palo Verde tree growing out of the majestic white rocks we took some time to lay around in the shade. Soliz got to hike around with lots of help and even got some rocks in his shoes! We didn’t stay at the special spot for very long, as it was hot, and as like most other desert spots, not many comfy places to lay down. And Soliz wanted to lay down. I remember when Soliz was a baby I saw a photo of another child with his same genetic condition around the age he is now lying down to explore. At the time I didn’t get it. I thought to myself, when my son is that age he will not be lying down like that. Now, here we are. Soliz is almost 10 and I celebrate him lying down to play as this is the way he is more mobile and able to explore his environment. I celebrate that he is exploring movement and curious about his surroundings as opposed to how it looks to others when he is doing this.
Our Spring Equinox hike was a nice metaphor for our lives of parenting together. I certainly could not have done with simple hike on my own. I needed Andre’ to be there with me to help put Soliz on my back, to spot me as I was carrying him, to take over on the walk back to the wheelchair, for companionship and love. I needed Patty, our respite provider to be at home with Camila, caring for her lovingly and in a way that I could trust her enough to be away. When all of this comes together in alignment we are able to take our son on a short hike to my favorite spot in the desert. And for this, I am grateful.