A Mama in Quarantine
A friend of mine who edits a publication for river guides asked me to write about what it’s like being a mama (and river guide) in quarantine. I sure appreciate her request because it’s allowed me a moment to sit down and drink a whole glass of wine (ok, glasses) and reflect on where I am in my life in the midst of this pandemic without interruption. They say we are fighting a war against an invisible enemy and I wonder who’s the bigger enemy, the Virus, or being faced with Uncertainty.
I like how the Buddhists put it, “invite your greatest fear to tea”. I decided to picture a steaming English teapot laid out on a table between me and Uncertainty. I recognized that it was actually the lure of Uncertainty that led me out to Flagstaff, Arizona for no reason at the age of 23. I gave Uncertainty a piggyback ride when I rowed my first boat through Grand Canyon and again on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. And certainly, if you’ve ever paddled a ducky or a stand up paddleboard you have succumbed to Uncertainty (and are haughtily enjoying it). After years of guiding with all the pleasures and pains that accompany that choice of lifestyle, I actually learned to maybe not relish uncertainty, but at least accept it. And hell, maybe even try to embrace it. However, the idea of that makes me squeamish, not to mention It’s a slippery little devil. Not but two seasons ago I was still working full-time when I found myself invited to tea with motherhood. Motherhood is a synonym for Uncertainty, just ask around. With gusto, I said, “sure thing Uncertainty!” and here I am some months later with a job before me that is monumentally, fundamentally, all-encompassing and exquisite. Ok, wine told me to be honest, the task at hand is also terrifying. But I love this job more than I’ve ever loved a job. Yep, sorry river guiding. This chubby-cheeked cherub bumped you from numero uno.
In my personal experience, a mama in quarantine is just a mama. I was already a stay-at-home-work-from-home mama with all the frustrations and delights that entails. I am, however, brimming with gratitude. Most people I know and love are still healthy. I am lucky enough to live in a gorgeous and mostly-rural Moab. Jeep Week was canceled. As I said, I’m filled with gratitude. But I’m antsy. Because I’m a lucky duck, I want to help. I’m desperate to. So I’m doing little things like delivering groceries, organizing volunteers, washing my hands like mad, and wearing a mask. (Gosh ya’ll I hope masks don’t become a fashion craze after this is all said and done because frankly it rides up into my eyes, makes me want to touch my face even more, and adding insult to injury, we can’t even see each other’s smiles. Ok, I digress). The local hospital where my son was born asked for people with Wilderness First Responder certification to help out if this thing blows up in our tiny town. I’ve put my name down but God willing and the creek don’t rise they won’t call. Daily, I send my love to all those mamas in high rises in New York and hot zones all over the world where I can’t even comprehend what they are going through.
Anyway. This mama in quarantine is just a mama. But I’d like to use this “platform” as it were to pay tribute to all my fellow guides. Some people may kinda scratch their heads in wonderment at those of us who choose to live the guiding life. But in crisis just as this, this is where guides shine the brightest. We are resourceful, upbeat, reliable, resilient, tough-as-shit, encouraging, multi-faceted, capable, and community-minded. No doubt we are helping out where we can and big admiration and thanks to all those many guides who moonlight as nurses too. There are many of you and you make our community proud.
I’m proud to be a member of this community. Stay well out there and help where you can. We’ll be back on the river soon showing people the time of their lives. And when that time comes, they will need it more than ever.
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