I just got back from a long vacation with my family that lasted 3 weeks! That’s incredible for us. We got married in 2009, and we’ve had school, work, and no money for much of it, so the fact that, after almost two years at my husband’s job, he decided to just take all of his vacation at once. It was awesome. And crazy. This trip has definitely been a lesson in focusing on the basics too!
Over and over again over the last few weeks, I’ve had the thought, “Wow, your life really changes when you have a baby.” Suddenly when we went hiking, all the trails had to be stroller friendly—the little guy won’t tolerate the carrier anymore—and I couldn’t let him out of the stroller because he’d probably run off the edge of the path down a hill, or go up to a squirrel and get attacked (squirrels are scary). Needless to say, I spent much of my time during those hikes fighting the urge to worry about his schedule. I. am. calm.
We spent the first few days of our trip in beautiful Zion Canyon Utah! I LOVE Zion. I have lots of family history there, so I feel a deep connection to the area. I also spent a summer working in the area before I met my husband, and I fell in love with the canyon. I’ve never done any of the off-the-beaten-path trails, (kudos to anyone who has done Angels Landing) but I think the park is just beautiful. I have spent hours hiking in the river up the first part of the Narrows and tried to do the Subway once, but never got to (still on my bucket list!). This time in Zion was—as I mentioned before—much different. We came with my husband’s dad and his girlfriend and, because of car issues from the day before, didn’t get into the park until the afternoon (HELPFUL TIP: If you want to visit a national park, see if they have a senior pass program—Zion does—and bring a parent! We got in for free both days because he showed his pass. That saved us $50). We only ended up doing one hike that day—Temple of Sinawava.
If you’ve never done it, it’s not long and it’s paved. Along the path, they have spots where you can leave the trail and go down to the river to enjoy it. This has always been one of my favorite hikes because it leads to the river. Once you hit the end, you trade your hiking shoes for water shoes to go out into the river and up the Narrows. I didn’t even make it to the end this time. The entire hike was during the time when Little Guy usually takes his nap, so he only wanted to get out and run around and if you tried to get him to do anything else, he threw a fit and screamed.
So, we struck off on one of the access points where there was a large, sandy beach area and the river curved at the base of the canyon. It was shady, even at 3:30 pm, so it was pretty ideal for spending a while and relaxing. Except for Little Guy. There were large river rock everywhere and all he wanted to do was run over them. The image of him slipping and hitting his head kept replaying in my head as I chased him around, trying to give him independence, avoid a tantrum, and keep him from killing himself (tall order.). In what I thought was a stroke of brilliance, I handed him a small rock and showed him that it made a cool sound when you hit it on other rocks. He started running all over the beach hitting every single rock. And I still had to chase him to keep him from falling down.
Marianella (Dad’s girlfriend) is GREAT with small children (another benefit of bringing a parent!). And she showed Little Guy how to throw pebbles into the river. Problem solved. For probably an hour all he wanted to do was throw pebbles into the river over and over and over. It got to a point where I really thought we might to run out of pebbles. Now, he is only 20 months old, so he can’t really throw that far. After a while, I started pulling ones he had thrown back onto shore so he could throw them again, and he was so into the game that he didn’t really notice what I was doing. All he knew was that he had a never-ending pile of great pebbles to throw as far as he could, and he was so happy.
Times like that are the kind that really warm a mother’s heart. I’m so grateful that I pushed aside my worries about schedule and safety and germs and let him explore and have fun. I also had a bit of a realization, watching him on that riverbank. I thought about the things that we have in our lives, opportunities, material things, days to be alive. Things I sometimes take for granted, or maybe I just don’t think about them much even though I am grateful for them. I thought about God and how He gives us those opportunities, those possessions, those days. How merciful God is to bless us so continually! I’m not perfect, but God still desires to bless me, and all of us each and every day. And He most often seems to supply those blessings just like I did with Little Guy’s pebbles, unseen, and unnoticed. And I’m sure He feels much like I did when He sees how happy those blessings can make us. What better way to thank God for His blessings than to have joy in them every single day. Like any loving parent, He loves to see us happy. Thanks are also appreciated. I hope to hear Little Guy say thank you someday for all that I do for him, too.
What a blessing it is to be a parent and finally understand some of what God must feel for His children all over the Earth. I’d like to leave you with this scripture:
“But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” 1 Nephi 1:20