Surviving River Season As The One Who Stays Home


Six years ago, if someone had told me that I would be spending my summers as a stay at home mom while my husband got to raft the Colorado River through Grand Canyon I probably would have smacked them. This is the exact opposite of the life I envisioned for myself and yet, when I have the opportunity to go on adventures without the kids, I refuse. When I’m away, even for a short day hike, all I can think about is how much I would love to show my son the lizards or answer my daughter’s endless why’s and how’s. I’ll be spending my summer “staying home” with my children while my husband is working on research in my favorite place on earth, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Staying home isn’t easy

Ours is a society that doesn’t place much value on stay at home moms. To the extent of it being a stigmatized choice. If modern women can choose to be anything they want, why would they choose to stay home? This isn’t considered “real work,” but it is often the most exhausting (fulfilling) job I’ve ever had. And to top off the under-appreciated struggle, the Colorado River is REMOTE. Most days we can’t even get enough of a signal to vent to my husband over satellite phone. Sometimes I could just really use the reassurance that I am doing this parenting thing to the best of my ability. This can feel so lonely.

So don’t stay home

After realizing that I wasn’t going to survive sitting around while my other half got to go on epic adventures, I planned some epic adventures for myself and the kids. Getting outside every day is essential to my mental health, and my identity as a person who does adventurous things.

Find your support community, and lean on them

Find other adults, especially other parents and talk to them. Or better yet, adventure with them. Go out and hike with other mamas and struggle together.

The best days are the days that I can sit at a secret swimming hole, listening to canyon wrens, watching my babies splash, and knowing that the Colorado river will still be there for me when I finish this chapter of my life and I’m ready to go back.