Today, Mountain Kid 1 turns 12 years old.

I remember at the age of 28 or so, my husband was driving up this mountain in Appalachia with a statue on top in the dead of winter. I looked at him and said that I wanted a kid by the time I was 30.

Two months after I turned 30 and several moves later to another side of Appalachia, Mountain Kid 1 was born.

MK1 and I started out as frenemies. She had her dad wrapped around her little, cute fingers. I was jealous for a while. We played together and did stuff, but I was under-prepared for everything parenting entails. I’m still unprepared, but luckily the kids are a little more self-sufficient. There’s a whole new mess of things to worry about.

Over the years, things have mellowed out between us a bit. I was a frustrated and angry mom for a lot of my kids’ early years. I knew I was in the wrong, but didn’t have resources available to help me until I realized that part of the problem was me.

So, I dropped some of the perfectionism. I found things I enjoy that help me unwind in a positive way. It has been several years of some small and big changes to my outlook and my life in order to be a better, more positive influence on my kids — especially my only daughter, MK1.

Mountain Kid 1 believed in me more than I believed in myself for a long time. She throws shade like no one else — enough so as to make my stop and consider my choices sometimes.

Mountain Kid 1 and I participate in a Girls on the Run 5K.

We bonded a bit more through sports — running in particular. We have a love/hate relationship with running. We’re competitive and get upset when things don’t go our way. We both run because usually it’s fun and makes us feel good. When it becomes a chore, we need a break. She’s more of a trail runner, while I like trails and pedestrian-only areas like rail-trails or empty roads. Tracks are boring, but beneficial sometimes.

While MK1 is way faster than I am, it’s pretty cool that we get to share this athletic pursuit together. She shows me something she learned at track-practice and I just try to keep up.

I don’t plan on living vicariously through her — forming her into an Olympic athlete. I just hope she doesn’t falter and lose faith in herself as she becomes older. I pray that she doesn’t have to deal with some of the things I dealt with as a kid. I watch as she and her brothers navigate life with a gusto I wish I had now.

MK1 and I one recent early morning getting ready to help the Run for the Fallen crew get underway in Edenton, NC.
Twelve years of parenting adventures.

I will never stop traveling to the ends of the earth for or with you.