I think every parent has a crystal-clear vision of what they want to pass on to their children. Unfortunately many of the things we pass on we have no control over. This became very apparent this past week during our trip to Big Bend National Park in the southwestern part of Texas.
To understand the significance of my story you must know a little about the Big Bend area. On the website there is a quote that depicts it perfectly. “A land of strong beauty—often savage and always imposing.” The park is 800,000 acres of Chihuahuan dessert and Chisos Mountains with altitudes that range from approximately 1,800 feet along the river to 7,800 feet. The Rio Grande River flows along the southern part of the park serving as the dividing boundary between the United States and the Republic of Mexico. Dramatic differences can be seen in the climate, animals, and plants as you move from the dessert to the mountains. The pictures were mostly taken by my son-in-law; they give you some idea of the massive amount of untamed and magnificent country.
On Monday of last week we met our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter in the park. We spent the first two days exploring the park and surrounding area in the truck. It gave us lots of time to visit and get to know our daughter as a mom, and our son-in-law as a dad. Getting to know my children in these roles always makes me very reflective of my role as a parent. I guess some day they will do the same. Hopefully the good times will standout and the mistakes will be taken as lessons learned.
On the third day my daughter and her husband had an overnight backpacking trip planned to the summit of Emery Peak. It was obvious that there had been a great deal of planning and preparation done to get ready for the trip. The packs were equipped with the necessary clothing, emergency supplies, and food. The evening before the couple got their respective pack out and double checked the contents. They would eat breakfast before they left, and then they had couscous, mashed potatoes, power bars, and trail mix for the hike. While arranging their packs, the daughter mentioned she would make a couple of sandwiches for the hike. Her husband stated he thought they had plenty of food and that wouldn’t be necessary. The conversation continued back and forth for some time with the ending statement from my daughter being “I know you lose your appetite when you hike but I’m not going hungry”. This is when the light came on and I knew this was my doing, it runs in our family. Hunger Phobia, or the fear of hunger. My sister, daughter, two sons and I must always know where the next meal will be coming from. I’m sure none of us have ever gone hungry and why we are this way I do not know. When making plans for anything the first thing we do is plan where and what we will be eating. Take care of the important stuff first! If food is not readily available or easily attainable the appetite and preoccupation with what we will eat increases. Even my cat becomes restless and begs if she can see the bottom of her bowl. I’m sure she thinks that a famine is pending. I understood exactly my daughters concern.
Early the next morning the two left for their hike. About 2pm the sky became very dark and by 4pm it was raining with an incredible lighting storm. I became increasingly concerned because of the constant lightning. I also knew that my daughter would be anxious and nervous because of the lightning. This I also passed on to my children. Astraphobia, the fear of lightning and thunder. During their childhood I tried to be very careful and stifle my anxiety during thunder and lightning storms. Obviously, I was much more transparent than I thought.
Around 10 am they returned wet, tired, and very hungry. They had reached their destination and the hike had gone well until the lightning and rain started. They were trapped in a very small two-man tent with lightning hitting all around them. I can only imagine the tension and apprehension in those close quarters at an elevation of 7,825 feet. The power bars and trail mix were consumed but no mashed potatoes or couscous because they required cooking. Lightning and little food, what could make the situation worse? How about 2.2 inches of rain in 7 hours. That is a lot of rain for the park.
The experience will make a great story to tell over the years. I’m sure the experience did nothing to improve my daughter’s trepidation over lightning and the next time she wants’ to take an extra sandwich with her, no amount of chiding will change her mind. And I’m sure my son-in-law would prefer to not be caught with his wife, her two brothers, and mother in a lightning storm. If he does, he better bring plenty of food!