The Dirty Secrets of an Outdoor Mom

A while back I was sitting around talking to some other women, when one of them referred to me as “Super Mom over there.” I don’t remember what the context was, but I know that she sometimes reads the blog and probably meant it as a compliment. Maybe she had read about our many hikes or seen pictures of my kids’ happy, muddy faces.

The Dirty Secrets of an Outdoor Mom. Rain or Shine Mamma.But it got me thinking about the image that I project versus the reality that I live in. Although I don’t embellish our lives, I realize that what I tend to share here on the blog are the highlights of my parenting experience, the good times, the stuff I’m good at and the things that I think I get right (at least most of the time).

When I share a photo of us happily eating s’mores in front of a campfire, you don’t know that the Big Naturalist just threw a hunger-induced tantrum because it took me 45 minutes to get the fire started and the bread on a stick that we tried to make refused to bake properly. Or that the Little Naturalist dropped our last hot dog in the fire, or that I yelled at the real dog as she got into the butter and ate most of it before I caught her (true story).

I usually like to keep it positive and inspirational.

But in reality, becoming a parent is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Actually, let me rephrase that because becoming a parent was the easy part. Being a parent, the actual everyday act of parenting, is the hard part. I find the parenting experience to be as exhausting as it is exhilarating. It’s pancake picnics and sibling bickering, cloud spotting and testing boundaries, ups and downs, sometimes all at once.

So in the interest of keeping it real, and in honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share some things that typically don’t make it onto the blog.

OK, confession time:

My kids don’t always want to play outside.

My big passion is connecting children with nature. So when I ask my kids if they want to come help me in the garden, build a fort, or do just about anything imaginable outside, and they scream bloody murder, proclaiming that they’d rather watch a Barbie movie, it kind of makes me feel like a failure. This happens more often in the winter than in the summer, but either way it really gets to me and is not something that I typically like to share.

I don’t like doing crafts.

I’ll examine insects or go on a hike with my kids any day. But the thought of creating butterflies out of toilet paper rolls or making snacks shaped like dolphins and caterpillars makes me simultaneously cringe and crave a really deep, long nap. To all the “Pinterest moms” out there: My hat goes off to you. Thanks for bringing such cute and creative foods and games to the class parties, so that I don’t have to.

I sometimes send my kids outside to play for selfish reasons.

Outdoor play is great for kids for many reasons. It’s also essential to this mom’s sanity. When my kids are outside I pretty much let them be as wild and loud as they want, as long as they’re not hurting each other or disturbing anybody else. But I don’t deal well with noise and rambunctious behavior inside the house. Outdoor play sometimes works as this little buffer for me, so that I can compose myself after a particularly rough parenting patch or just fold laundry or finish cooking dinner without interruptions.

I can’t be bothered making sure the kids clean up their rooms.

I’m pretty much a Type A person who likes to keep our house as neat and tidy as it can possibly get with two kids and a perpetually shedding dog. Clutter gives me the hives. But the girls’ rooms often look like a rainbow-colored dinosaur threw up all over the floor and walls and I often lack the energy and willpower to make them pick it up. That’s part of the reason why you rarely see pictures from the girls’ bedrooms on this blog – and don’t expect that to change any time soon.

I sometimes use the “electronic babysitter.”

On the blog I advocate for switching “screen time” for “green time,” and truthfully my kids don’t watch much TV at home. But I’m also a writer who works from home, sometimes with pretty tight deadlines. If the kids’ real babysitter is gone I sometimes use the electronic version, i.e. let them watch a movie, just so that I can finish a project. This is not my proudest parenting practice, but hey, at least the kids don’t mind it.

I could make a much longer list, but I’m trying to go a little easy on myself. I can honestly say that I do strive to be a better mom every day. I’ll never be a Super Mom, but that’s OK. I’m a good enough mom. And so are you.

Now I’d like to hear about your “dirty secrets!” Let’s chat in the comments.


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15 thoughts on “The Dirty Secrets of an Outdoor Mom

  1. Heather Dent says:

    Oh Linda! This post brought tears to my eyes. I LOVE this post! It resonated with me on so many levels. Thank you for being honest, and vulnerable, and big-hearted. You are a wonderful human being and I am so glad you are my friend.

    • Linda McGurk says:

      Thank you, Heather:o) It’s difficult for me to get out of my comfort zone with my writing sometimes, but when I do it seems like it always resonates with the readers. I’m thinking it might be something I need to do more often:o) So glad we met, look forward to seeing you soon again!

  2. Kierna says:

    Great post Linda, sometimes I think reader forget that blogs give just a little glimpse into a much bigger world!

  3. Jan Beatson says:

    Thanks for sharing that. I believe one reason we have a rise in child abuse is the fact that children don’t get outside any more. They stay inside making all the raucous noise and get on everyone’s nerves . Parents don’t ever get a sanity break

  4. Darcey says:

    Linda,
    This is my favorite blog ever! You are a Super mom and it’s comforting to know you are imperfectly Super. Happy Mothers Day…you are always an inspiration and I enjoy watching you and your girls!

    • Linda McGurk says:

      Aaaawww….:o) The funny thing is, my oldest daughter ended up reading part of the post and then told me that she thinks that I am a Super Mom. Needless to say, that was the best Mother’s Day present I could ever get:o)

  5. Nell says:

    I love this post… although my words are totally different, I hum a similar tune. Thanks for getting outside and keeping it real 🙂

  6. Wendy says:

    Real life is messy isn’t it? I feel the same way, we like to show off the things we think we are doing right. But truthfully, we all want to know that sometimes things don’t go as planned and we can all relate to that too! Thanks for sharing your mess! 😉

  7. WildFamilyFun says:

    I love this post, just brilliant. Yes us outdoor loving families don’t always get it right. After a long weekend of camping my daughter refused to get out of bed this morning and just wanted to watch a movie. That’s life and reality. I’m with you about children’s bedroom too, my daughters is more bomb site than room but tidying up is what you do as an adult!
    Great post, thanks for the honesty.

  8. Laura says:

    Love your blog! This really struck a chord with me. People have said similar things to me, and I’ve had a very similar reaction. I’ve given this some thought, because there are some mom blogs out there that project a “perfect” image that I think is unintentionally sexist. Our lives, our homes, our children and ourselves will never be perfect, and we do not support each other by projecting unattainable goals. Please know that you are not doing this and you are 100% inspiration!

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