It was hard. She bitched and moaned a lot. She was tired and hungry and pissed off that her friend was getting carried and she wasn't. It was hard on me because traveling alone with 2 kids I was not in a position to fling her on my back. She's too big for carriers anymore, and I was already carrying so much drinking water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, journals, camera gear, changes of clothes and such that I was unable to carry her too. It was exhausting not just physically, but also mentally feeling that my daughter was slowing down others every time we went somewhere in a group. The others would be blocks or kilometers ahead of Naia and I, and she would look at me and say, "Where did everyone go? Why won't they walk with us?" I didn't know what to tell her.
But when I stopped worrying about getting from Point A to Point B or keeping up with other people with other agendas and started to forget about worrying and just follow her lead, it finally felt easier. I realized a couple of weeks in that it wasn't that she didn't want to walk places or walk long distances, it's just she didn't want to walk at a grown up pace. And who could blame her?
She wanted to scamper up and down every set of stairs on the street. She found beetles everywhere and wanted to played with them. If a butterfly crossed her path (and many did) she wanted to meander off and see where it went because it might lead her where the fairies live. She made a point to stop and actually smell the flowers.
On a really difficult hike up Maderas Volcano to the San Ramon Waterfall, she and I were all alone on the trail, slowly making out way uphill. The others were all long gone. She was crying because she was frustrated and exhausted and angry that we were alone. We sat to have our 317th water break and she pointed out a spider to me. A bright green spider that had these crazy looking legs with fuzzy frilly hairs coming off of them, almost like a Muppet spider.
"Mama look! If we weren't going slow, we would have never seen this spider. Nobody else got to see it because they went too fast."
We sat and watched the green lynx spider slowly make his way around a huge leaf. He stopped here and there, not really going anywhere. Sort of like us. And he wasn't the only one. We met an iguana, and loads of beautiful blue Morpho butterflies. And we listened to the howler monkeys and hooted back at them.
She reminded me that despite what everyone else around you is doing, you need to focus on what's right for you. And that it really is about the journey. It's about doing your own thing and appreciating what's around you, rather than pushing forward and checking things off your list.
I felt crappy about pushing her and getting her into situations where she felt left out and maxed out. Even though in the moment was exhausting and even though I knew she was slowing down the group, I was still super proud of her. Because regardless of how slow she went or who she was holding up or how much she whined, she did it. She DID IT. She forged her own path, in her own time, her own way. She was not going to be forced into a grown up agenda, it was her little journey.
(why walk a trail when you can dance it?)