Stand with Me

The cool spring air, blew through my bedroom window. The sun rays streamed in, glowing through the window slats, and poured onto the white bed.  Birds were singing.  The kids were still asleep.

I'm pretty sure I'm experiencing Mom Nirvana. Minus a coffee, or a spa, or being on an international retreat.  But, you know these days - it's the little things mamas, amiright?

Nothing is better than a sunny spring Sunday, with a slight cool breeze.  Our family doesn't go to church like most of the southern folk we live around.  So it's really quiet in our neighborhood on Sundays.

We usually make a huge breakfast and bump old 90's rock tunes on Sunday mornings.  But, this Sunday I was determined to explore, get out into nature and share it with my kids.

It was my idea to visit a local mountain.  It's called Stone Mountain in Georgia.  I heard about the beautiful hiking trails through a friend on Facebook (naturally - where else do you hear about anything these days?)

She posted great pictures of her young daughter climbing.  It looked totally doable for my five and three-year old.  It looked totally doable for me.  I hate heights.  I hate flying in planes.  I hate being in tall buildings.  Skyrise patios. If I get a hotel room at a massive hotel – I want to be no higher than 15 floors up.  I hate being up high.  But this mountain, I can do.

We dressed in our hiking best.  Aka…exercise clothes cuz that’s all we got.

I packed some Nutella sandwiches (because all things lead back to Nutella), fruit and waters and we piled into the car.  My kids were excited - which made me excited.

We arrived at the entrance – there were brochures boasting this experience, and that experience and different ticket packages being offered at every inflated price point imaginable.

Apparently, Stone Mountain is a souped up state park.

I turned to my husband, "Listen, we're here for the mountain.  Not for the rides and the cotton candy and the Dippin' Dots.  We're here for the naturey-hikey trail thing I saw on Facebook.  Where the fuck is it on this map? Ugh, I can't read a fuckin' map.  You drive and read it. I can't."

The mountain was simply the backdrop to this state park production.  Rolling, paved trails lined the main roads throughout the park.  There were small lakes to fish in, picnic tables, charcoal grills, and some historical buildings.  Just the type of park to take the family for a day of nature and relaxation.  But, it also had a full-fledged theme park and attractions.  Just the type of day for tourists in the Atlanta area.  If the Niagra Falls state park is on steroids, than this park is on Creatine.

After a bit of a detour through narrow and tree-lined roads (thanks to my fabulous sense of fucked up direction)…AKA we got lost.  We found the correct parking lot for the mountain hiking trails. We had the kids pee before we made our climb. The kids did some yoga stretches before they got onto the mountain.  Which was cute and slightly mortifying at the same time.  I mean, my three and five-year old girls are displaying downward facing dog in front of the public restrooms.  

Like we’re some sort of yogi, new age, juicing, crunchy parents or something.  We kinda are.  We shop at Whole Foods after all.

After a good stretch, and possible OoooooOOOOOOOOooommmmmmmssss, my kids were ready to climb.

Stone Mountain, is in fact stoney.  I mean, I've never climbed a mountain before.  So I don’t have much to compare it to.  I've hiked a bit.  But the mountain had Stone Age terrain.  The mountain is a pale, tan color.  It has lots of divits with little pools of water – and large boulders.  Boulders, that at any moment, look like they could come tumbling down to knock you down like a bowling pin. 

The first 500 feet, went by in a breeze.  The air was fresh, and the adrenaline was full speed ahead.  We were getting’ high off of climbin’ high (that should be in a Snoop Doggy Dog rap or something).  Anyways, the kids are climbing, skipping and jumping up the rocks.  To which I reminded them more than once – to stop hopping from one boulder to the next, “You’re going to crack your head open.”

I stayed behind my three-year old as she used her mighty, meaty legs to climb.  She has amazing thighs.  Nice chunky ones.  Unlike her sister – who has sticks for legs.

Roots from trees stuck out – tempting to trip us.  Large beige rocks stood defiantly as obstacles.  The incline, getting steeper.


(cont'd)


It felt like I was afraid for my child the whole time.  I didn’t want her to fall and hit her head.  I didn’t want her to fall and tumble down a ways.  I didn’t want her to twist her ankle.  But, my three-year old climbed this mountain like she had done it a hundred times.  Like she had enough energy for two mountains. 

We reached 1,000 feet or so.  The views were gorgeous.  You could see the whole city of Atlanta from 1,000 feet. 

It was a good stopping point.  I took in several gulps of the fresh, crisp mountain air.  I could see 15 miles out from the mountain.  I shamelessly took pictures with the kids.  Okay, okay selfies.

I looked up – and realized we had a little more to go.  I look back out to the horizon.  We’re really high.
Nausea starts to set in.  I get gurgles in my throat.  I feel a little dizzy.
Just deep breaths, yoga breaths iiiiiinnnnn annnddddd ouuuuuuuutttt.
And you wonder where my kids get the yoga from?
I’m telling myself to remain calm.
I suggest we all take a lunch break under a tree and look at the views.
We drink our water, eat our food and talk about the beautiful day.

But, I’m dizzied.  Physically dizzied.  How the hell am I going to climb to the top? 

After we eat, I tell my husband and five-year old to go ahead without me and the younger one.  My older daughter was so excited to make it to the top.  I couldn’t deny her. 

The little one was feeling hesitant.  Or tired?  I’m not sure which one.  Maybe both.  Maybe she could feel what I was feeling.

My husband and older daughter went ahead.  I was looking at them the whole time.  Climbing.  Please stay behind her, please stay behind her. Don’t let her fall. Don’t let her go near the edge.

Little one seems content to lie on a rock for a bit and soak up the shade.  We sit and chat for a bit.

Suddenly, just as my husband and older daughter are going out of sight, little one says she’d like to go to the top.

I don’t want to discourage her bravery.  So, I say, “Okay, let’s go.  But you don’t have to.  And if you need to stop and take a break, just let mommy know.”

She climbs, then gets distracted by some big cool rocks that she wants to knock over.  And she stops.  Little one needs a break and wants to sit.

I am hoping that she wants to just stay here the whole time.

Within 20 seconds, she’s ready again.

“I wanna go up and see Daddy and sissy.”

Ahhhwwwww heeeellllll.

“Okay, we’ll go higher, but if you need a break, tell mommy.”

We climb about 10 more steps.

Little one stops.  And seems unsure.  She sits down.  I sit with her.

I tell her, “You know it’s okay if you don’t want to go up.  We can see Daddy and sissy in a little while, when they come back down.”

As if she senses that I said those words more for my own comfort, than hers, she replies, “No, it’s okay mommy, we can do it.  We can go to the top of the mountain.”
I look up.  I get dizzier. 

Dear gawd woman -get it the fuck together.  Don’t look back down.  You’ll effing puke or pass out right on the side of this thing.

I take her by the hand, and we go up.  At this point it’s pretty steep so I have to hold her hand to help push her.

It was thirty or so steps to the top.  And we were up.  A flat, rocky, top of a mountain.  I felt like I was standing on dinosaur land.  Desert-ish.  Dry.  Even some of the huge craters looked like giant T-rex foot prints.  Great, I'm in the freakin' Land Before Time and it's freaking me out!!

  I stood in the middle.  I didn’t want to get close to the edge like the other people taking selfies.  I just looked for my husband.  I kept looking.  I couldn’t look at the view, it would made me sick.  I get sick writing about it right now.  I just kept an eye on my kid, and another eye out for my husband.  A minute passes – and I start to panic.  I’m thinking the worst.  If my kid fell off this mountain, would anybody know?  Would they notice?  Wouldn’t someone be screaming?  Wouldn’t my husband be screaming?  I would never forgive him.  Where are they?! They better not be close to an edge.

Out of the “Stone Mountain Summit Shop” (cheesy gift shop on top of a mountain?) – runs my daughter towards us.  There is my husband.

Relief.

My older daughter is so happy that we made it up – that she’s shouting.  She’s jumping.  She’s hugging her sister.  They’re acting like a reunion of long lost buddies.

(cont'd)


My husband looks genuinely shocked to see me.  He knows, I don’t do heights.  The kids are ecstatic.  They’re playing and jumping all over.  They’re letting their imaginations immediately run wild.  And their legs.

I scream with panic, “Stay close to us!”  I am clearly, freaking the fuck out.

My husband says, calmly, “Mommy is freaking out. She doesn’t like being up high.  Just stay close to her so she doesn’t get scared.”

I sit down.  They sit down next to me.  And that’s when I take in the view.  I have to sit to soak it in.  It’s too dizzying to stand up.  When I feel grounded in my surroundings,  I stand.  

And then I ask my daughters to stand with me.



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