In an effort to be a better mom I agreed to chaperone my son’s fifth grade trip to Moab.
5 days, 26 students, 4 chaperones, 2 teachers.
It was … epic.
There was astonishing beauty:
There were amazing adventures:
There was a truly unbelievable amount of noise. You might think you can guess how noisy 26 10 – 11 year olds set loose on nature can be but you would be wrong. No one can truly imagine it. You have to live it. Scratch that. You have to survive it.
My body behaved amazingly well. I did have to ice up a fair amount and take meds but I did ok. I had fun.
I learned that I will take a group of pre-teen boys over a group of pre-teen girls any day. I watched helplessly as the girl’s assigned to my tent group engaged in hen-pecking in the truest sense of the word. I laughed with them and cried with them and made them tea, then I ran to the other mom in charge of the other girls tent and we collapsed into each other grateful to NEVER be that young again.
I watched my amazing son navigate the trip flawlessly. We had a sleepover under the stars, he had his first cup of coffee (95% cream, 3% agave syrup, 2% coffee), he helped with breakfast prep in the morning and was never in need of correcting or cajoling.
There was fine red sand in everything, on everything, and under everything. All our food crunched, our drinks crunched, our skin grew red chalky and our hair dulled.
I was the first in my raft to go into the Colorado river. It was so cold I couldn’t breathe for a bit upon entry. Once I adapted I was happy to float along side the raft and watch my brave tent group try to push/pull each other in.
I made friends. I became part of the tribe of parents who know each other at their kids school. I stopped being the outsider no one ever sees at events and became the mom who was smart enough to bring a cot and a chair and her own camping stove for tea. I manifested my own existence as the mom of a kid at the school he has attended for years. I fit in.
I watched kids struggle with homesickness, stress, heat, and a general age-related desire to inflict their mood on everyone else. I exchanged glances with the other adults and we all took deep breaths together.
I hiked Arches and the Canyonlands. I hauled pre-teens into rafts on the Colorado river. I ate s’mores by firelight.
In other words, I was normal. For five days in a desert 7 hours from home I left behind my spoonie identity and joined the rest of the world.
It was magical, it was exhausting.
It was completely worth it.