The Walk

During the forty days of Lent, we remember the forty days Jesus spent in the desert before he began his public ministry. It is often thought of as a time we are to reflect on (and endure) our own personal wilderness. It is a time of preparation for believers: a time of prayer, penitence, giving and self-denial. Sometimes the experience stays on the spiritual level. Often it is experienced alone. And then there are those literal wilderness journeys through which we must travel on our own while surrounded by those we love the most....


We are currently living in the middle of a mirage of spring. March is typically our snowiest month, yet so far, we have had none to speak of. As a matter of fact, on Sunday it reached nearly 50 degrees and we started to see the great big meltdown begin. Given such beauty and warmth, Kurt, his visiting buddy, the four kids and I decided it was a perfect day for a walk around nearby Starring Lake. Ok, in fairness to the kids, they had no choice in the matter but happily hopped in the car anyway after I let each of them choose a riding vehicle to take with us.

My version of the story:
We arrived at the lake where I unpacked the truck, got Liam situated in our jogging stroller and watched each kid delightedly ride down the first little hill which was covered in melted snow (a.k.a. water) where Aidan lost his balance and fell over and Madeline and Lily barely escaped a similar fate. Aidan took it in very good spirits though, picked himself up and began again. We hadn't gotten but 50 feet when Lily started hollering because she couldn't get over the un-melted spots and we turned around to watch Aidan take an ugly spill, sandwiching himself between ice and his scooter. With two kids already crying, we quickly realized there was still too much ice and snow covering the path for the kids to ride. After calming down, Aidan started complaining about being cold. That's when I noticed he had failed to put on his jacket and was only wearing a thin and overly-worn Steelers jersey...you know, the kind with little holes in it. I asked Kurt to please bring back the jacket that was in the car when he and his buddy took the scooters and bikes back and the kids and I "eagerly" walked on. (You might be wondering, with that kind of start why we would keep going....surely you know me better by now!)

Ten minutes or so passed before the guys caught back up with us, empty handed.

"Where's the jacket?" I asked.

"He'll be fine," Kurt assured me. (A few minutes later, Kurt gave his jacket to a whining Aidan.)

We were maybe a quarter around the lake at this point. On we walked, sometimes the kids would walk with me, other times with the men but pretty soon, it didn't matter where they were walking; they were all tired and complaining. I attempted to allow them to take turns sitting in front of Liam on the stroller but each time he kicked and screamed, not wanting anyone in front of him. I tried distracting them by finding big sticks for them to carry and quickly realized that was a bad idea as they were practically taking out other walkers as well as each other. I tried to get them to pretend they were ice skating with me which erred on the side of dangerous and even the men tried distracting them with the old hold-hands-and-swing-on-the-count-of-three- trick. Nothing put a permanent kibash on their exhausted whining yet on we walked, through the wilderness, complaining kids and all.

About half way around the lake the kids were begging me to turn back.

"Well, there's no point now. We are half way around," I assured them. "Just keep walking. You'll be fine."

The next mile went something like this:

"Are we there yet?"
"Are we almost there?"
"Why do we have to walk the lake?"
"Are we there YET?"
"You always make us do things we don't want to."
"You said it wasn't much longer."
"Are we EVER going to get there?"
"MOM! It isn't FAIR you make us walk so much!"
"Are you trying to kill us?"
"You told us we'd be there already! YOU LIED!"

With about a quarter of the 2.3 mile lake to go, the two men a good 30 feet or so ahead, I had Madeline balancing on the handlebars of the jogger in which Liam was now crying, Lily (wearing her two unmatched rain boots on the wrong feet) riding my back, and Aidan, having stopped about 10 feet behind, screaming at the top of his lungs:

"MOM! My crack hurts! My CRACK hurts! I can't move any longer because MY CRACK HURTS!"

And I am laughing hysterically, tears rolling down my face, because none of the other dozen walkers passing us at this point know that he is speaking of the cracks on the bottom of his feet from having had some dry skin issues and not the crack that might come to mind otherwise.

In the end, Aidan rode the front of the jogger, enduring Liam's frantic kicking, Madeline stayed on the handlebars and Lily pranced at my side. With the extra weight of Aidan up front, I couldn't turn the stroller so every time we needed to straighten out, the kids would lean one way then the other to get us on track, making the time much more roller-coaster like, and the kids much less miserable. I also used this rather peaceful time to tell them about walking the lake in the summer when we can hunt for treasure with a real (mom-made) map! (Even with the abundance of enthusiasm I mustered, their response told me it might take a little more convincing!)

About ten feet from the car I asked:

"Ok, who wants to go around again?" (hee hee hee....) Shocking, there were no takers.


His Version:
Sunday: Great day out so I took a nice walk with Brooks and the family around the lake. The fresh air, peaceful surroundings, and great conversation were just what I needed to start the week. I wonder why Karen looked so haggard afterward? Strange. The End.


Just goes to show that one person's wilderness is another person's walk in the park.

But hey, at least I know what to give up for Lent next year: walking lakes with four kids attached.

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