I stepped outside on a sunny day last week to walk to the park. Right as I was breathing in the fresh air the wind picked up and a swirl of dust hit me square in the face. I turned and spit when another gust picked up my hair and planted more dirt right there against my scalp.
I grabbed my little guy’s hand and dragged him up to the park while he screamed, “Wiiiiiiiiind. No no mama. no wiiiiiind”.
I insisted we play and I insisted we have fun while he crouched down in the tunnel yelling, “No no mama. Go bye bye. Home mama.”
This has sort of been my life lately in North Dakota. Life has felt tough and frustrating and forced. I hesitated writing this post because I like to be so positive in this space but my blog is supposed to be about the real life experience here in the Bakken. I guess I just need to be honest and write.
Having arrived in October, all we know is North Dakota winter. We did pretty good in winter. We were couped up but I had anticipated that and expected to hunt for new things to do. Meanwhile I think I was unintentionally doing the thing that I’ve done since childhood. The hyping-up, over-anticipatory thing that has never served me well.
Whenever something is coming up that I am excited about, such as, say summer, I start to build it up. Imagine what it will look like and what it will feel like. For instance, months before Christmas as a kid I would start dreaming of the wonderland that would overtake my house Christmas morning, the mounds of presents that would surely come. Well, you can see where I’m going with this, such high expectations always left me disappointed, no matter how great the actual event was it didn’t live up to my ideas. Ungrateful much? Sorry mom!
Its stupid and sad and something I work on – keeping my expectations in check. But I think those expectations have crept up on me, building over the winter as I’ve been waiting for sunshine.
All winter I dreamed of the sun. I dreamed of being outside for hours. I share sentiments with Olaf:
Granted, Olaf’s expectations were a little off and I think mine were too but we are both easily excitable. I imagine sitting outside for hours, hanging out at the park, undisturbed and happy.
Anyway, the first thing I wanted to do was get my family out for a hike, a real hike, in the national park. A hike with hydration packs and cliff bars and sunblock. Several weekends ago we got up on Saturday morning and got it all ready, the lunch, the backpacks, we pulled out the child carrier to stuff Benj into. We unpacked boxes and found the right clothes and finally made it into the park. We adjusted the carrier and tied our shoes and were off.
Up the trail we went, spotting buffalo right off. I started snapping pictures as my husband hiked ahead. Minutes later, not a hundred yards ahead of me I looked up to see Danny madly swiping at his legs and yelling. He was covered in ticks.
He came back to me and we booked it to the car where he pulled off his shorts and started flicking them off one by one. I was wearing pants and hadn’t gotten as far up the trail so wasn’t suffering as bad but I grabbed my kid (who had been on Danny’s back), stripped him down, and started flicking ticks off him. Hike over.
Days went by where we played at other parks and rode our bikes and bathed several times (I promise). Then one morning I brushed my hands through my hair and my finger pulled at something hard, something stuck….. a tick. As you can guess I totally freaked out, grabbed and pulled. Not the perfect tick removal technique but here is the sucker:
Later that day I put Benj in his high chair for a much needed hair cut and started going at the red curly mop just above the back of his neck when I spotted it, a black spot against his scalp. There it was a tick, in his hair, in his skin. Since the morning episode I had gathered some tick removal intel so I had a better plan this time. This one was much harder to get out than mine. I pushed Benj’s face down on the tray of the high chair to get some leverage. I held his head down with one hand and with tweezers in the other I grabbed it and gently put pressure on the little sucker for a solid minute before he let up a bit and I pulled him out with a big chunk of Benj’s skin.
I cannot adequately describe the rage that I felt for that creature in that moment. My child, screaming so hard there was no noise, red faced and covered in snot and tears, was the only thing that could pull me away from crushing that little thing, pounding it over and over.
Ok, ticks, so now I knew to be more vigilant right? Days later Benj and I went back to the lower part of the park to throw rocks in the river. It was a really fun morning and I didn’t spot any ticks. We came back home and in the doorway I stripped him down and put him right in the bath. I combed through his hair and, satisfied, put him down for a nap.
After naptime Dad came home and we were all wrestling when I spotted it, another nasty creepy disgusting devil-loving **** *** ****** ****** (this blog has been censored) ******ing TICK! In his ear, in the little fold above the entrance to his brain, there was a tick. Tucked back in there that guy was happy. I turned his head and checked the other, and sure enough, another (see above description) tick, chillin out, happy he hadn’t been discovered during bathtime.
Needless to say, I’m having a real hard time wanting to go outside. The wind is whipping at my face and my child is climbing with ticks and I’m kind of pissed. Word on the street is that I can expect those two things to last the summer.
I know, I know, I should try tick repellant or essential oils or adjust my expectations or get over it, ticks are just a way of life here, or whatever. The wind is not that bad, it doesn’t come everyday, the dust will do wonders for my hair. I am working on it. I am working on accepting and surrendering and finding my happy face. It will be back.
But, my expectations of hours outside in the sun, hiking, unmolested by tiny black blood sucking disease carrying insects have been crushed. My love of sitting outside in serenity reading a book without the pages blowing back and forth must be left in search of a more North Dakota friendly activity. It is spring and will be summer, they will look different than I expected but it will still be good.
I am going to be ok. I have a plan. I’ve been having some therapy sessions with local mamas who rock at being happy in Western North Dakota.
I will return soon to talk about a sunnier less tick infested summer plan so check back.