As a stay-at-home mom of six, it can be challenging for me to make time to spend quality, one-on-one moments with each of my kids.
I find that I occasionally drift into the herd mentality, where I focus on the basic feeding, care & transport of the entire group. But I know that kids not only crave that solo time with their parent(s), but need it in order to thrive.
So a great opportunity came my way recently to spend quality time with #2, via her Girl Scout troop. The troop leaders planned a special getaway weekend- just the moms and the girls. As in, just myself and #2. Alone. For an overnight. Which I was really excited about.
At a dude ranch. Which I was less excited about.
Here’s the thing; I love nature. I don’t mind a rustic ambiance, and am in no way offended by a wagon wheel decor. But horses….
Well, that’s a horse of a different color.
I’m kinda… creeped out by them…?
There. I said it.
I can appreciate the aesthetic beauty of a horse. Some of them are just gorgeous; from a distance, that is. When I’m up close, and they have their big old faces and big old teeth all up in my face, I feel my teeth get all big and clench-y, and feel very very tiny inside, certain that they’ll… I don’t know. Bite me? Head-butt me? Neigh at me?
I can’t blame the horses. It’s not like I’ve ever had a horribly traumatic experience with a horse; it’s more of a risk avoidance strategy. In fact, my only real experience involving proximity to an actual horse was in college. My fellow residential assistant staff decided that our annual group outing was to be held at a local riding stable.
But in the spirit of camaraderie, I went. And was assigned to a big, old grey horse. Which turned out to be a big, old GRUMPY horse. No Mr. Ed here.
We followed the trail- or I attempted to. My grumpy Mr. Ed did not. He had other plans, which included frequent pauses to nibble branches. And benches. And the other horses.
Let’s put it this way; we were both mutually relieved when the ride was over and we parted ways.
But #2 adores animals of all shapes and sizes, and I adore #2, so off we went. And despite my horse anxiety, I was thrilled to be getting away overnight with my girl.
We had a blast; there was archery. There was a giant jumping pillow. There was chili. There were wagon wheels, everywhere. There was dodgeball. Seriously. Mom vs. daughter dodgeball. Yeeeeaahh, baby!!!
I loved having the chance to talk with my fellow Girl Scout moms uninterrupted, unimpeded by toddler children underfoot. I loved watching #2 laugh and play with her fellow Girl Scouts. (And the dodgeball. Did I mention how I loved the dodgeball??)
And I savored bonding with #2, watching her in her element, among the nature and animals that she loves so much.
But what I savored most was the chance to spend time with my daughter- we laughed. We talked. We bonded. And it was so refreshing for both of us.
And now you expect the part where in order to bond with my daughter, I put my apprehensions aside and joined her for the horse ride, where I finally overcame my hesitations towards those kind, beautiful creatures.
And you’d be wrong.
I’m all for self-improvement and facing your fears, but… no. Nope. Noooooppe.
So I gladly sent a thrilled #2 off on the trail under the supervision of another kindly Girl Scout mom, and I faced my fear by getting this close instead:
We bonded; with a nice, solid wooden barrier between us.
#2 had a splendid time on the trail, absolutely delighted by her very first horse ride.
It was a great outing for both of us, and we have some great memories to share that are her own to keep- special moments away from her siblings with her mom. And if we ever happen to go back, I’ve decided that I’ll chance a horse ride after all- and I know just the one I’d like.
Right in the lobby.