One of the things I have not done a lot of on our adventure is spend time with Little Bird outside of the camper or campground just the 2 of us. We do a lot as a family, and she and I spend time together at home, but we do not usually go out somewhere for our quality time. However, when we were in Arkansas, Will found an awesome place in Lake Ouachita National Forest where one of us could go out on the paddleboard and one of us could hang out with Little Bird.
Even though the forecast was calling for very light wind, when we arrived it was definitely breezier than I was comfortable with to go out on the paddleboard, so we decided I would take Bird for a hike and Will would take the paddleboard out, and we would meet back at a designated time for lunch and switch.
Early in our adventure, Will and I shared the duties of carrying Bird in the backpack while hiking, but for the past few months, he has carried her exclusively. As I strapped on the backpack, I honestly did not know how long we would make it, but I was determined to get us out together for at least a mile or so.
Will had been on the trail earlier in the week with Bird, so he gave me a rundown on where it went and what to watch for, so I was prepared for the immediate uphill climb that started the hike. As we hiked up the hill, I could tell that we were going to have a good hike.
The 2.5 miles we ended up going were medicine for my heart and soul. Sure, we are together all of the time, and sure, being with a toddler all of the time is exhausting. But being on the trail, listening to her chat away and looking at all the things she got excited about, it was a different kind of interaction than she and I have on a daily basis. I realized how important it is for us to do these kinds of things together to show her that us girls are capable and strong. As we reached the halfway point, right on time to make it back for lunch and right where I had long-shot hoped we would make it, we stood by a little stream and I just took it all in.
The hike back was soothing in many ways. Mostly I knew that we did not have any huge hills to tackle and also I had no doubts that my feet could safely get us back. Bird napped for a few minutes, which gave me time to soak in the sounds of nature and reflect on how important our time together truly is. People are not kidding when they say kids grow up fast, and as Bird’s 2nd birthday quickly approaches, it boggles my mind how fast this time has gone and how incredibly lucky we are to have all this time with her.
When we met back up with Will, he relayed the struggles he had with the wind on the paddleboard and we opted to call it a day after eating our picnic lunch. Will felt really guilty that he was the one that went out on the water, but I was not the least bit upset. I knew in my heart I was not meant to go out on the water. I was meant to hike, with Bird, just us.
The hike was a confidence boost on many levels, and even though I was sore for the next few days, I know I am capable and sure in my footing and that I will be carrying her more on our hikes in the future. I also know that she and I will not hesitate to forge our own adventures and leave Da behind every now and then.