Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the tag “Hope”

Hope, Terror Haze and Old German Tourists

Guess who’s too old to make Superhero poses? (Hint: Look for the Aviators…)

We went Fall camping, which is awesome if you can get two days off work, live 3½ hours from Jasper National Park, the daytime highs are 27°C and you have a tent trailer with a furnace.  Yes, that’s right.  Not a backbacking tent which is enveloped with condensation by 4 AM, but a nice cozy tent trailer with a kick-butt furnace pumping out the BTU’s all night.  This is necessary in the Rocky Mountains because, no matter how warm it is mid-day, come breakfast time it’s going to be hovering around 5°C.  From toques, to shorts, to fleece, to toques all in 16 hour period.  Nature is not that forgiving, especially to your wardrobe.

I would say that I was tough, but that would be a lie.  Hardy, in that I can take all the frosted breath and brisk hikes to the ladies’ washroom.   Dear Husband convinced me to take all the kids — including the small ones — up the Jasper Tramway, which can best be described as a tiny, metal box which zooms up the side of a rock face attached to a tiny, metal cable, all while your children press their oblivious faces to the window screaming, “Look how far doooowwn it is!”   Now I, sans kids, had hiked up this rock face and I thought it was quite tame.  However I had never considered what a sheer drop of 2400 odd feet combined with progeny with no common sense and slow reflexes would do to my adrenaline level.  We’re talking about a 3 year old who runs to the side of a cliff, starts jumping up and down, yelling:  “If you jumped off this cliff, you would be DEEEAAAAD!!!  Right Mommy?!!”  Or nearly crashes into the sliding glass doors that open onto the tram when it isn’t there, just an elevator shaft straight into Hell, to, yet again, demonstrate what one should NOT do in the name of safety.  When we finally touched down, unharmed, on God’s sweet Earth at the bottom, Dear Husband asked me if I was okay.

“A haze of terror.  That’s all I remember.  Children running to their death and sheer, unadulterated terror.”

He agreed not to take me back up there again.

Jasper, like all the Rocky Mountains, attracts visitors from all over the world.  English, Australians, Japanese (less and less), Chinese (more and more), Americans (varies from year to year), and always, Germans.   It wouldn’t feel like you hit the mountains unless you heard “ich bin…” or “Stimmt!” at some point when walking around town.  If the Parks are open, there’s a German somewhere in it.  Including all over our campground.  Which was the weirdest part of our trip.  All the sites in this campground are extremely open, including ours which was smack-dab next to a walking path to the showers.  All the nice Commonwealth types would walk by with a friendly greeting and smile at the children.  The Germans though, would return my hello, and immediately look away.  As soon as our gaze was averted, they would then start staring at our children.  When I caught them, they would immediately look away, and pretend to be really interested in a tree.  This happened over, and over, and over again.

Our way too young to be driving a rented RV site neighbours, were the worst.  This young couple could barely mutter a word to us, but would stand there — when they thought we didn’t see them — and gawk at us.  I couldn’t understand why they just didn’t come up and ask us where the kids were from.   But then it I caught one facial expression that I was not meant to see.  Embarrassment.  They were staring because they felt it was obscene to see a family with so many children.  They were watching a freak show, and they didn’t want to admit it.  No, these folks had no shame in driving around in a Granny-mobile in their 30’s, wearing uber-expensive mountaineering clothes to walk around handicap accessible groomed trails, and leaving their empty wine bottles at the entrance to the campsites for the “forest fairies” to collect for recycling, but were ashamed for us that we had too many children for their tastes.  Huh.  Auf Wiedersehen right back at you, Sweetheart.  (Did I mention the Australians were really nice?)

I have children because I have hope.  At one point I had no hope, and I had no children.  I do not believe that life is pointless, I do not believe that God will fail, and I do not believe that things will ever get so bad that I will wish that the human race would disappear in favour of the Dominion of Slugs.  There’s a trite expression, “Children are God’s way of saying the world should go on.”  They are also people’s way of saying that they should go on.  But if you have no hope, and then why should you go on?  Waste your money and time travelling around foreign countries, trying to fill your days with some pleasure and diversion, before it all comes to its meaningless end.  Staring at big families when they’re not looking.  Like I said, Auf Wiedersehen Sweetheart.

(Sorry for the rant.  Did I mention the Australians were really, really nice?)

Is There Ever Enough?

Baby Girl came into bed at 6:30 this morning, and insisted on sleeping on my neck. But I didn’t mind. The wind was cooling the room, and the sky was the over-cast helmet of a day of rain. Perfect napping weather, except I had to crawl out of my cocoon and start the day. I smiled at my Sweetie as he read his iPad, the blue glow on his face. When I’m like this I’m all haimish and happy. Then, I get up and the spell is broken.

I worry.  And worry and worry.  Will there be enough?  Enough to cover piano lessons, enough milk in the fridge for cereal, enough time to remember the project for school before they dash out the door?  Will I have enough patience not to snap, not to shout, to jump in the air for the 40th time that day and pretend to be surprised when she stomps up behind me and yells “Boo?”

Who will pay for our retirement?  What if something happens to one of us?  Maybe I should go back to work and help out around here.  It’s so hard to always say “no.”  No, you can’t have that.  No, it’s too much money.  No, we don’t have time today.  No, your Father and I don’t think it’s a good idea.  So, no.  Face falls, shoulders slump.  “I knew you’d say that….”

For years now, I’ve been researching the ancient pilgrimage route, the Camino de  Santiago de Compostela (the Way of Saint James), which crosses from France over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain.  It is my Sweetheart’s and my dream to one day walk it together.  A common thread seems to unite the reflections of the pelegrinos (the name for all “pilgrims” on the route) is that the Camino is life, and life is the Camino.  Everyday you get up and keep walking.  Did you have great day?  Super!  Now, keep walking.  Things going bad and everything’s wrong?  Rats.  Keep walking.   Just like daily life with it’s tiny victories and humiliations — just keep walking.

But what is so illuminating about a physical pilgrimage, is that it’s pretty hard to hide our decision to stop walking.  By Day 3 of your “Rest Stop” sitting in a Pub in some picturesque Spanish village, it has become apparent to everyone, including yourself, that you are going nowhere.  In the river of daily life though, it’s easy to be caught up in some little ebb and happily bob along there until it is too late.  The race was run and all you’ve got to show for it is a really awesome DVD collection, and a decent on-line gaming personae.  Trying to avoid the pain of the step after step after step, you missed the entire journey.  The gnawing in the pit of your stomach that you took the easy way out.

It seems I can walk the Camino without ever leaving home.  (This is awesome, because with trans-Atlantic flights costing what they do, I feel like we’ll be using walkers by the time we save up enough.  But who knows?  Maybe by then it will be Wheelchair Accessible.)  The question is whether I can keep going, step after packed lunch after messy room after bill to pay after step.  And if I don’t look at the big picture, but just do the little bit in front of me, well, I think — I hope — I can.  Just do the next thing and somehow we’ll all get to where we are supposed to go.

Update: I realized that I should have listed some of the Camino resources/reflections that I stumbled across that might be of some interest to you all.  As Brother James mentioned in the comments, there is the excellently reviewed movie The Way, which is hovering at the top of my to see list.  However, the rest of these I have had the chance to check out personally:

I just recently read this reflection by Dr. José Pereira, a Palliative Care Doctor at the Nothing More Beautiful Event sponsored by the  Archdiocese of Edmonton on May 10, 2012.  It is not a description of the Camino but a spiritual reflection of the impact the journey had on Dr. Pereira and his faith.

I was struck by several similarities to a programme on CBC Radio 2 I had stumbled on a few Sundays previous.  The program was called Inside the Music and it highlighted the work of fiddler/composer Oliver Schroer (1956-2008) who walked the Camino and recorded his own work in various Churches along the way  and collected in the album Camino.  The description of “keep walking” was a paraphrase of (what must of been previously recorded) Schroer’s.

Finally, if you are looking for a well-written travelogue with some wry commentary on just how weird thing can get with a bunch of women, get a hold of Jane Christmas’ What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim.  This book has a lot of great information on the nuts and bolts of the Camino, and some “funny now that it’s over” observations on traveling en masse with fellow females.

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