by mssinglemama on March 3, 2009

My first memory is of toddling behind my mother along a dark hiking trail somewhere out West. 

I must have been about Benjamin’s age.

A few hours earlier we had all split up. My father and some of my other siblings stayed on top of the trail while my mom and the rest of us went in. And now we were completely and utterly lost. In the quickly fading light all we had seen were the yellow buffalo crossing signs. Soon we spotted a road. We waited until a car drove by, flagged it down and hitched a ride back to the parking lot where my frantic father was waiting. 

Some say your first vivid memory defines your personality. 

Does this mean I’m lost? Or afraid? Sounds familiar.

But I’m finding my way. I’m finding it through the eyes of my son, the most amazing thing that could ever happen to someone fearful of love is finding someone who loves you unconditionally. And through him I’m learning how to let someone love me. 

On our trip we didn’t get lost. Not once.

And all along the way I couldn’t help but wonder which one of the memories will be his first.

Seeing his first plane 


or riding on one?


Or will it be his second flight when the raisin snacks from the first flight gave him a vicious poop attack? (Thanks mommy). Poor kid was screaming his brains out. Luckily the nice man sitting next to us was beyond accommodating. We made him stand up at least six times but he smiled every time. 

Maybe it will be driving up to the house we rented in the heart of Joshua Tree. 


The view from the kitchen table. 


The cowboy bath tub.


The drive down the mountain to get firewood. 


The coyote we saw along the way.


The sunset pouring through the windows in every room. 


Or maybe it will be meeting one of his mommy’s greatest friends


and his beautiful daughter whose eyes seem to radiate hope.


Maybe it will be one of those. 

But if I was a betting woman I’d put my money on the moment when he escaped while mommy was busy packing to scale this hill in the back yard. 


When he got to the top he shouted, “Look, Mommy, lookie! I made it! All by myself! I made it!” 

He needs to stop growing immediately. And we definitely need to take more family vacations. 

I did discover something in the desert… that my son is ready to travel. And that, my friends, is an unbelievable thing because traveling is – by far – one of his mother’s favorite things.

Before our last flight Benjamin and I were running through the airport to let off steam. We were both laughing and panting at the end of our race, still high on the adventure behind us and on the adventures to come. Five years ago his father and I had been running through an airport laughing. We’d just been cleared by the INS. Somehow my gorgeous French-Canadian boyfriend had been allowed back in the country, and after they’d stamped his passport we bolted off in a full sprint trying to catch our flight. The immigration lawyers would tell us later they’d never seen a stamp like that before. 

It had an expiration date. 

Three weeks later we’d be married. And one year later I’d be pregnant with Benjamin. 

Traveling always brings good things. Always. No matter how they appear at first and no matter how difficult, there’s always something magical on the journeys we take whether they be to a place or somewhere deep in our hearts.

The trick is finding your way back home.

{ 4 trackbacks }

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Jillian March 4, 2009 at 2:17 am

I'm so glad you guys made it back safe and sound. I've only been reading here for a little while but while you were gone I went back and read through your archives. Haven't made it all the way up to the present yet, but I'm workin' on it. Looks like you guys had a great time, and I'm glad he behaved on the flight(s). Hope the peace you felt on your trip has returned home with you and stays with you, even through the hectic day to day life.


Janet March 4, 2009 at 2:25 am

Wow, these photos are amazing! I can't believe he climbed those rocks by himself. I love the pic in the bathtub too. 😛 Glad you had such a great time! I can't wait until my little guy is a little older (and I have so we can take a trip too!


Canadian Bald Guy March 4, 2009 at 2:29 am

"He needs to stop growing immediately."

That is one of the cutest, most honest comments you've written. I can totally picture you saying that when you first spotted him on top of those rocks.

Beautiful pictures and it seems like you had a beautiful trip. Good to know that everything went so well.


jen March 4, 2009 at 3:08 am

I know what you mean by 'he needs to stop growing immediately'. My son is 8 in June and he's one head shorter than me and I'm not a short-arse. And as for travelling together it's kind of great. My son and I went interstate last year for a week and I plan to do it again this year. I think these are the sorts of memories they will treasure and remember as they grow up, as you obviously did from your childhood.


Lisa D March 4, 2009 at 3:24 am

This is such a beautiful post. I am glad you had a great vacation. What a gorgeous place to visit! And that house looked amazing!


Nakia March 4, 2009 at 3:51 am

The pictures are beautiful. Wouldn't be awesome if we could tell them to stop growing and they actually did (for a little while at least)?


TwinCitiesLynn March 4, 2009 at 4:02 am

Glad you had a wonderful vacation, and was able to make excellent memories for the two of you. AND congrats on the continued non-smoking!


Sheila March 4, 2009 at 5:03 am

Photos are gorgeous! Everything looks so OPEN! I need to haul ourselves over there one of these days!


Sheila March 4, 2009 at 5:06 am

P.S. Ok, that rental house is AMAZING!


Kimberly March 4, 2009 at 6:05 am

I just knew you two would have a blast! I was a single mom rearing three boys for most of their childhood. Our BEST times were spent picking a place on the map and hitting the road/air. My oldest is (eep!) going to be 25 this September. Seems most every time I gather my boys up from the four winds we spend time reminiscing about our incredible journeys.

Benjamin is so very lucky to have you as his mom…you're pretty lucky too. 🙂

aka WalkingHorse


Amy March 4, 2009 at 6:08 am

What a fabulous place to escape to! The house looked divine.
Keep on traveling, loved going on family vacations as a kid. Mind you as one of 6 kids we usually did road trips cross country to visit family. Awesome adventures though and hoping to do the same with my 3. Next week they fly for the first time, Disney Land here we come!


Kristin March 4, 2009 at 7:37 am

This totally inspired me to take a road trip with N. I have always been pretty sure he has inherited my travel gene. I am going to prove that theory this year.


NewSingleMama March 4, 2009 at 8:40 am

My goal in life is to be just like you Alaina. Seriously! LOL. I can't wait until my little man is here. I want to make it a point to do all kinds of fun stuff like this with him and show him mommy can get out and do fun things just like a Daddy would.

Some of my friends who were raised by single moms tell me that their biggest complaint is that there mom would never do "guy" things with them and were "stay in the house" types. I'm glad to see you that you show your boy a bit of adventure!


Jen March 4, 2009 at 11:39 am

If only they would stop growing. Mine turned 17 this year and cannot stop talking about being a senior in high school next year! I keep thinking she is soooooo wrong. She can't be that old yet. She is still only 7 right? Wrong! Time goes so fast. Our travel in the summer consists of one ball field or another in some random city / state. Usually, we only see the hotel room, the pool at the hotel, some random restaraunt or the field on which she is playing softball. Hold close each of those moments with your son, as they go by way too fast.


newsinglemama March 4, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Very moving post Alaina. Just like you, I'm learning so much through my daughter. I call her my little Zen master, lol


notasoccermom March 4, 2009 at 2:58 pm

There is something so magical about traveling with kids. We have been reduced to road trips but they are the best memories I, and my children have. Good for you! and good for Benajmin for climbing that hill, a metaphor in itself.
And good for Matt for getting out with Maddie and not getting lost in his sorrow.


Katherine SOLOdotmom March 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Sounds like a wonderful trip. The photos are great as well. Thanks for sharing Alaina!


PhenomenalMama March 4, 2009 at 3:29 pm

The good news here is that no matter what his very first memory is, it's guaranteed to be a good one. 🙂


JennyD March 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm

This is a great post. I too am looking for a way to stop my children from growing. At least once a week I say "this is the best age." It's pretty amazing that it just keeps getting better. On another note…was your son watching "Land Before Time" on the plane? What a great movie. "I smell…I smell…hmmm. Ducky!" 🙂


mssinglemama March 4, 2009 at 7:49 pm

This was actually Land Before Time X … turns out the damn thing was all about Little Foot finding his father. So he was asking/talking about his daddy the entire trip. Cute. Kind of. and sad.


Nico March 4, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I always wonder what my daughter's most lasting first memory will be. Mine, my mother was trying to get my three-year old self to take a nap, and she's all "just lie down for ONE hour…" So i counted to sixty (in my three year old brain an hour was sixty seconds) and then started down the stairs again, where my exasperated mother just wanted some damn rest of her own.
Me, i am hoping the exasperation i project so often toward my sweet daughter is NOT the first thing she remembers…


mssinglemama March 4, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Oh… wow. This sounds familiar. I always get a bit exasperated around nap time.


Keeshabee March 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm

I think this has got to be one of the most beautiful posts you've written so far. Almost made me shed a tear. I am so looking forward to taking the lil' one on adventures. I grew up traveling with my family so I definitely want the same for her. Traveling makes one appreciate life and the good people you meet along the way.


mssinglemama March 4, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Thank you.


Irishmom March 4, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Beautiful! The writing and the pics. And of course, you son! I have traveled extensively with both of my children from an early age (partly can't help it because I have brothers and sisters on four different continents) and partly because I love it too. It gives them an education like no other and a sense of adventure that is so important in allowing them to grow up, hopefully, not fearful like their parents might have been. Thanks for sharing this! Tricia 🙂


mssinglemama March 4, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I really hope so…


mssinglemama March 4, 2009 at 7:47 pm

You're right… it's so important as parents not to let fear get the best of us, especially when kids are watching/experiencing it all right along with us.


JennyD March 4, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Oh no! Those Land Before Time movies are pretty heavy cartoons! I don't remember them being so depressing, but they totally are. I watched "All Dogs Go to Heaven" with my 3 1/2 year old son…not good. Turns out I didn't pay much attention to that storyline when I was a kid.


Erin March 4, 2009 at 9:33 pm

I'm so glad you two had such a wonderful time. Those pictures are breathtaking! I agree with the stop growing thing. I wish there was a pause button I could press so that my daughter would stop growing. It goes by so damn fast…
I too am a travel fanatic. I've been hit by quite a bad case of wanderlust here recently and I can't wait to hit the road/air with my little one asap. I can't wait to have tons of adventures chock full of memories for me and my daughter. Glad you got home safe, take care!


Henley March 5, 2009 at 12:38 am

I'm still betting on you and Matt! i think this time next year, you'll be a couple! And Ben and Maddie will be best friends forever.


Nicole March 5, 2009 at 1:14 am

This is such a beautiful post!
I couldn't help but tear up.
I don't know why. lol
Maybe because Benjamin is almost the same age as James and it makes me think about him growing up too.
I want James to have lots of travel memories and we're well on our way with multiple road and train trips so far but I'd love to take him on a plane.
I lost two weeks of pay last summer but it was worth every single day of our trip following the Rideau canal. He loved watching the water and exploring the museums (mostly just climbing up the stairs and looking out the window at the water) and I hope that, if that is his first memory, it inspires him to travel.
I thought that my days of any significant amount of travel were over but clearly the real adventure is just beginning! 🙂
I'm pretty sure he's a born traveller!


Ms. Single Mama March 5, 2009 at 3:06 am

Definitely… he is absolutely beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing your pictures.


Nikki March 5, 2009 at 6:57 am

Oh my gosh, this post ROCKS! :O) Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful story. I'm speechless, really.


Anna March 6, 2009 at 1:01 am

That rental looked AMAZING! And Benjamin has turned into such a grown-up little dude! Glad you two had an awesome vacation together…I'm jealous! 🙂


Hamil March 9, 2009 at 7:09 am

Awwww he watch the Land Before Time. My cousin watched that cartoon when he was a little boy.


James March 11, 2009 at 4:28 am

Hey its the guy from the plane. Sorry it took so long my trip was so emotion packed I didn't get online much. Anyway it was nice to meet you and I really like your blog. This is a wonderful site and I will probably comment again on another post soon. Oh and I see you didn't post the bunny picture…I was interested to see if you would get any funny comments. Anyway talk to you soon.


Kaleo Griffith April 28, 2009 at 9:33 am

I will be staying at that rental house next week. Did you like it?

Nice site!



mssinglemama April 28, 2009 at 11:13 am

Yes. Absolutely loved it. Be sure to tell the owners we sent you, okay?


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