Today I embraced being danger mom. It’s like being fun mom, just more badass. It started innocently with me trying to be good mom. After months of neglecting my children because I’m studying for a designation in my field which means I’ve had zero time to be actively engaged mom the guilt made me determined to do something memorable with them. I decided that taking my son on a field trip into the desert with a friend, her children, and my father to look for geodes would fit the bill. So far it sounds like something good mom would do, right? The only flaw in my plan was that my dad was in charge of the field trip. This ensured that it would be fun, fast paced, and interesting but it would also inevitably veer into age inappropriateness and recklessness because that’s just my dad being my dad. I mean what’s the fun of putting safety first?
So we headed out into the middle of the Arizona desert. There is no cell service, water, law enforcement or paved roads where we were going. As we entered the desert I began to panic and asked my dad if he had brought his gun. The gun I had once thought ridiculous now seemed a good idea. I’ve seen Deliverance. I know what happens in the middle of nowhere. He had not brought it. Cue total panic.
But I played it cool because I still wanted to be fun mom. Our adventure began with us driving ten miles into the heart of the desert over a washed out road that miraculously we maneuvered and didn’t end up plummeting into gullies or hitting the free range cattle (Free. Range. Cattle.). Once we parked he gathered the children around and warned them to be on the lookout for rattle snakes and swarming bees. Can’t make this stuff up. As we began to trek up the side of a hill my friend whispered to me that maybe this wasn’t the best mothering moment. Ya think?
But once the children were out of the car and exploring the desert something amazing happened: they became totally engaged in a wild adventure. It wasn’t an antiseptic, bubble wrapped, Disneyfied experience. This was a bunch of kids getting dusty, chiseling geodes out of rock formations, hiking under a massive desert sky, engaging with nature in all her glory. They listened to my dad as he educated them about how the desert was formed, how it had been under a great ocean millions of years ago. He told them about volcanoes that erupted millennia ago and how they created the impossibly shiny, back Apache tears that lay strewn across the desert floor. And they laughed hysterically when he warned them not to pick up donkey shit. Nothing like cussing and potty humor to crack up a bunch of pre-teens.
As I basked in the reflected coolness of my father, I realized that I might be a prudish scaredy-cat but as long as I kept my mouth shut the kids thought I was danger mom. And maybe for those few hours as I threw caution to the wind I actually was. For my children’s sake I will try to let her loose every once in a while. Because in a world of rules, we could all use an inappropriate adventure once in a while.