The Struggle Is Real: A Mother Runner Moment in Glacier National Park

You might think this post is about hiking, swimming, bear sighting during our family vacation to Glacier National Park.

It is not, although we did hike, swim and sight a bear at a safe distance.

Or you might think this post is about biking the stunning Going to the Sun Road.

It is not, but I did conquer that beauty, and actually wished the 21-mile climb were longer just so I could soak up views like this.

You might think this post is about pushing my limits.

It is not, although I did take deep breath and launch myself off the Old Belton Bridge with my kiddos. (And yes, getting a picture was my main motivation for the leap.)

Instead, picture yourself at a campsite with four grills and picnic tables, already generously socially distanced before social distancing was a thing. Your posse (kids + husband + family of four you are traveling with) at one table at the end of the line. Another family of four, with what looks like two young teenage boys, at the other end. Two tables separate you.

You have two teenagers: one fourteen, one seventeen. The older bought a portable hammock with some birthday money, and the younger one is constantly pecking, asking to put it up/lie in it. The typical sibling power struggle. The frequency with which the hammock conversation occurs is, quite frankly, unnecessary and annoying. But you have been able to ignore it; you’re on vacation.

Two hammocks. The orange pattered one belongs to Amelia. The blue one belongs to Isabel, her friend. Neither belongs to Ben, unfortunately.

But now? Now you’re hangry. You’re hot and have a sunburn on your neck and dirt under your fingernails and bug bites on your leg. Plus, you got your period unexpectedly, and are mentally rallying to drive the 15 minutes you need for Super Plus tampons. Your daughter’s pencil thin ones don’t cut it.

The tangerine LaCroix you guzzled wasn’t as refreshing as you wanted it to be, and there’s no room for you to sit down at the picnic table. And you’ve got to chop a bunch of veggies so your (picky) kids can have a few vitamins this trip.

The hammock banter begins again.

“I am going to go get it out of our tent and put it up,” says Ben.

“No you’re not,” says Amelia, “It belongs to me!”

“But you haven’t used it on this part of the trip,” he says.

“I don’t care. It’s mine!”

And then, out of nowhere, you yell. At a volume you reserve for those special FIRST MIDDLE LAST NAME: GET DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW occasions at home.


Silence at the campground.

Embarrassment at the campground.

The parents with whom you’re traveling likely get it; they’ve been around for a couple of days and are as sick of it as you are. But the parents at the other table? They seem so quiet, such a happy, cooperative family.

You don’t really know how, but your table’s chatter returns to what’s on the docket for tomorrow. You eat an excellent meal—chicken and steak and grilled veggie skewers—and wash it down with a refreshing lager, and you feel much better. Even your bug bites seemed to have shrunk.

Tossing a bag of garbage, you pass the mom from the other table on the grass, and think about saying something like, “Sorry for the eruption. Long day.” But you decide against it. It feels like hours ago.

That happy family of four finish their dinner, and start playing a game of cornhole. As you walk towards your car to head into town, the mom says, “Dimity? The Mother Runner?”

Embarrassment at the campground.

“Um, yes. Hi! What’s your name?”

“Brigitte. From Portland.”

Immediately, the dad chimes in. “We were so relieved to hear you yell at your kids; now we know we’re not the only ones.”

Phew. Connection at the campground.

You chat for a bit with Brigitte and her husband, and laugh about how travel is great, but you’re still with the same people you’ve quarantined with for five straight months. This COVID thing? Hard for everyone, even when you’re grilling steak skewers and planning a glorious hike through Glacier National Park tomorrow.

You drive to the store, relieved they have Super Plus tampons. You throw in a pack of Peanut M’n’M’s to enjoy on the drive back to the campground, and look forward to getting up and doing it all over again.

[Read more The Struggle is Real Columns]

21 responses to “The Struggle Is Real: A Mother Runner Moment in Glacier National Park

  1. Ok, so reading this (like far too many things right now) makes me want to cry. Not because it was bad but because YES!!!!! All the things. YES!!! Thank you!

  2. Dimity, I love this. I am always so cautious of putting pictures of me and my kiddos on Facebook because I know how easily I can make my family look like ‘the Brady Bunch goes adventuring’. I am often tempted to post a series of such ‘Happy, Chilled-Out Family’ images with captions for each one describing the chaos often involved in the minutes or hours before they were taken – ‘Facebook Families’ have so much to answer for in terms of making parents feel inadequate.

  3. Love it! We have been camping at Glacier NP since July 21st! Still here and white water rafted under that bridge, yesterday. We too only have 1 hammock, but 3 kids. Sigh…

  4. Love this so much! We’ve all been there, for sure. And I totally think you did the right thing by grabbing the peanut M&Ms. 🙂 (And OMG, I’ve got to get back to Glacier. Definitely my favorite NP, thanks for sharing your photos.)

  5. Any mother (or father, for that matter) who tells you they have never yelled at their kids (either in the privacy of their own home or out in the great outdoors) is a lying doody-head. Also, my kids were fighting over my husband’s hammock until the 13-year-old bought one. Now the 10-year-old wants to buy one but doesn’t have enough money saved up. Seriously? Use your dad’s for FREE. Kids…

  6. I am so flattered to make an appearance in your blog (with my name spelled correctly no less)! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw you and your family at the campsite (even went to check license plates to see if there was one from Colorado before talking to you). After having followed this website and blog for many years, it was a highlight of our trip for sure! And just to be clear, pretty sure there was yelling at our table, too …
    Also, I am jealous you had a bear sighting, unfortunately we were not that lucky!

  7. nice piece, real and affirming. Beautiful pictures of Glacier National Park. Was just there this past sunday…I live very close by.

  8. Our family fight right now is all about Animal Crossing and moving freaking villagers. I feel all of your pain and lose my poo on a regular basis about the refereeing. Dimity – we all feel you.

  9. Years ago, before I had my 2 kids, I remember hearing a neighbor scream “get in the car!!” to her kids. I thought she was CRAZY and totally out of control. I also thought: “I’ll never yell at my kids like that…” Oh well, what did I know

  10. I didn’t think I could love you more Dimity, but I do. Thank you for sharing and starting my day with a smile.

  11. Well, I’VE certainly NEVER done that… oh boy! I usually lead off with ‘for the love of all that is Holy’ or if I’m really in an uproar it’s ‘for the love of peanut butter and jelly’ at top volume. I was a lifeguard, I’m really loud. We’ve all BEEN there! Looks like a fantastic trip!

  12. There is nothing quite so awkward as that moment right after the snap occurs….and I’m sure we have ALL been there at one point! Thank you for sharing!

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