Adventure, The Greatest Gift a Mother Can Give // Trina O'Gorman

Adventure, The Greatest Gift a Mother Can Give // Trina O'Gorman

My mother taught me to be careful so I wouldn’t get hurt. She taught me to always call to let her know I’d reached my destination safely because anything could happen along the way. She taught me not to run too fast or climb too high or drive too far because I might get hurt. And I am 100% certain, she taught me all of these things out of love. As a mother, I now know that when my child is injured or sick, I hurt just as much or more than they hurt. This motherly concern is as selfless as it is selfish. Sometimes I hear myself warning, “Be careful.” In other words, telling him not to hurt us.

Don’t hurt us. Be careful. These warning resounded in all that I did to prepare my younger son and me for his Cub Scout camping trip, a Friday to Sunday adventure into the woods, where he and I would sleep in a tent. I am not an experienced camper. It would be our first time doing this together, and my first time doing it as the responsible adult, and all I could think was that there was no responsible way to take my precious boy into the woods in the first place. I’d consider the entire idea of camping to be irresponsible and dangerous. I wrote about my fears more than once.

And I wrote and wrote and wrote. In the past three or four weeks, in preparation for this journey, I’ve written more than I’ve written in a long time. I’ve written lists and jotted down information to prepare. I’ve written long journaling entries about my worries and fears, trying to overcome them by considering the worst-case scenarios, and then considering how I could best prepare for them. I even added a few outdoorsy stickers and Extreme Post-it Notes (yes, they are a thing) to embrace this new aspect of our lives. I believed that all of my preparation was certainly the most responsible thing that I could do as a mother. If we were going to do this, we needed to be careful, so we didn’t get hurt.

When I’ve told myself the story of mother’s warnings in the past, I’ve seen them as limiting. From my stories, I’ve concluded that her warnings instilled a sense of fear and foreboding in me and that rather than raising a strong, independent woman, she’d managed to raise a fearful and anxious one. I’m sure this wasn’t her intention, but in my analysis, it is what happened. And so, I’d planned for all of the worst-case scenarios.

And when the rain began to fall on Saturday night, five of the eight families that were with us packed up and headed home before the rains got bad, cutting their camping trip and adventure short by one day. But my ten-year-old wanted to stay. I found a cell phone signal and checked the weather forecast. It called for showers and 6 mph winds. Nothing that I hadn’t read about. Nothing that I hadn’t prepared for. Nothing that I hadn’t packed for. Still, it would be “safer” if we’d gone home, I thought. Staying in the woods, in the rain, where the temperatures would drop to 39 degrees Fahrenheit was irresponsible and risky.

My ten-year-old son didn’t frame it quite that way. The story he told was this. The other boys had gone home at the wrong time. They were missing out on the best part, the adventure. I made the decision to stay. I used the nylon rope to attach contractors garbage bags to the tarp that covered our tent to assure that we’d stay dry. I got us out of our wet clothes and into dry clothes, which I still had because though I’d packed compactly, I packed for possible rain and cold. I had extra blankets to put in our sleeping bags. And though anxiety kept me awake for most of the night, my son slept soundly, warm and dry, feel safe and secure. He woke up, he emerged from that tent a different boy, one that is slightly more resourceful, wiser, courageous, and confident. 

As I continue to write about the experiences, I think that the lessons that I learned from my mother turned out to be the very things that gave me the wisdom and foresight to consider the worst-case scenarios and prepare for them. Her warnings to “be careful” were insightful. They didn’t stop me from staying in the woods, while the majority of our den went home; they enabled me to stay in the woods, while the others left to escape the rainstorm because being careful meant being prepared.

I’ve discovered a powerful lesson from this in my personal writing and notebook. Adventures are amazing opportunities to explore, to stretch ourselves, and to grow. Venturing out wisely and well-prepared, mindful of potential dangers, allows us to have the most positive and amazing experience possible.

To all the mothers and women who have been mothered, embrace adventure. 
Happy Mother’s Day.
Written by: 
Trina O'Gorman


  • Laurie: May 13, 2018
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    Thoroughly enjoyed your writing, your story, your shared experience. Thank you.

  • Kate: May 05, 2018
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    Hooray to new adventures, and all that comes with them: the good, the bad, and the delightful. Perhaps your son is not the only one who emerged from the tent anew. Thanks so much for sharing.

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