I was thrilled to join in at our local Hike It Baby #optoutside hike. Getting outside, meeting new people, and exercising, what more could I want the Friday after a gluttonous Thanksgiving?
I made my husband reschedule his commuting flight to work (he has to fly an hour and a half to his base from our house just to begin work) so we could attend the 10am meet up. We all piled into the car, I had a backpack full of extra diapers, scarves and hats, and snacks and drinks. We said goodbye at the airport and I felt excited heading out to the hike site. Meeting new people can be awkward but I am outgoing and interacting with strangers is one of my greatest talents. 16 years of customer service work makes me an expert at dealing with people I’ve never met before.
Anyway, we got lost, ended up in a very ritzy mansion filled neighborhood with signs everywhere saying “Not Open To Public, No Preserve Access” even though Mr. Google GPS told us this was the way to the nature preserve… A very kind gentleman walking his old dog on the side of the road gave the slightly nerve-stricken mom with the overloaded Outback better directions and we found our way to the gravel parking lot that was the meeting point.
I hate being late, but luckily for me I timed it out perfectly. It was 9:35 and the meet-up started at 10 so by the time I’d fed baby H and took out all the gear, the hike should just be starting.
I’m sitting in the car, feeding H, and the other kids are next to me playing “lets-see-how-many-times-we-can-honk-the-horn”. By 9:45 I thought, wow, no one is here yet? That’s odd… 9:50 comes around and I finally take out my phone and check the meetup time again. I was wrong. It was supposed to start at 10:30.
I felt so nerdy, sitting there, the excited overeager kid in class so desperate for new friends. I felt like I showed up an hour early to a school dance. The first person who showed to a dinner party at a new friends house. The parking lot was completely empty and somehow I needed to kill another 40 minutes with three kids by myself.
And this, friends, is desperation.
Ok, I know I’m being overly dramatic. This is how my brain works. My husband actually asked me when we were one exit away from the airport; “Aren’t you nervous going to a place where you know no one?”. I scoffed his question away. Of course I’m not. But in that moment in the car, surrounded by my clan of kids, that self doubt did creep in.
The time passed, the crowds of hikers with babies came, and no one knew I was an hour early. No one knew how nerdy and desperate I felt. Everyone there was great. I got many compliments on my bravery for heading out, with three kids, one of them two months old. Very nice fellow hikers helped hold my daughters hand on the way down of a particularly steep incline. I made all the small talk and connections I needed at the time and left feeling like this group something I’m going to come back to, again and again.
Meeting new people in your thirties is hard. Being a mom can be incredibly lonely. Even though I was the only super eager beaver at this particular hike, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one struck with some faction of self-doubt that day. Plus, sometimes I just need to embrace my nerd status and wear it proud.