the road less traveled

 Growing up Robert Frost was my favorite poet.  I had his book, Birches, and in my front yard, I had my own set of Birches.  They were special to me because of the fuzzy orange caterpillars that lived & grew in them.  

My favorite poem of his was 
The Road Not Taken.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 
-Robert Frost

I have been thinking the last few days about the life I could have had if I had stayed here in Washington.  Monday as I drove to my sister-in-law's house, I passed a mom and her two girls as they ran a lemonade stand.  The mom was dressed adorably, every hair in place, and she looked like she belonged exactly where she was.  I thought to myself, "That could have been me."  Not in a sad way, but in a matter-of-fact way.  I could have lived that life.  I could be the mom who helps her kids run a neighborhood carwash, collects trees after Christmas with the Boyscouts, or participates in the elementary school PTA.

Instead, I am the mom who bundles her kids in at least four layers before playing outside in ten degree weather.  I am the mom who teaches her sons gun safety because our household has guns that are used for hunting and keeping us safe from bears on walks.  I am the mom who takes four airplanes with three children and eight pieces of luggage to get to summer vacation.

 In choosing the door I did, other doors closed.  It isn't that those other doors were undesirable.  It isn't that they wouldn't have fit me-- they would.  It's just that in deciding to live in rural Alaska, following Josh's dream to teach and my desire to stay-at-home, running a lemonade stand with my kids is no longer an option.


I sometimes forget that what we are doing is kind of amazing. 

Then I will go to a party where people haven't heard our story, and I see in their eyes a kind of awe that inspires me to carry on.  They ask about groceries, hunting, weather and sunlight.  They ask about homeschooling and fishing and entertainment.  I had Josh's sister laminate a map of Alaska for me, and that has helped people understand just how remote we are nine months of the year.  

 Yesterday I attended Lincoln's end-of-the-year party and on the drive home I was telling Josh how amazing it felt to be there, surrounded by people who have been rooting for us from the beginning.  There must have been fifty people at the party.  All my old coworkers, who knew me before the twins, before Wyatt, before Alaska.  Friends who have hugged me, laughed with me, cried with me-- friends who, like you, follow the blog and wish only good things for us.

It is so good for me to remember how far we've come.  I have been a stay-at-home mom for two years now.  It was those people, as well as my family, who were by my side through what were some of the darkest times of my life so far.  The road we've taken is certainly the one less traveled, and despite what we gave up in the process, I don't think we'd have it any other way.

"Do not go where the path may lead;
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


Julie said...

Oh man I love those boys! The saying "Bloom where you're planted" came to mind reading your post. I think you've taken what could've been an awful experience and made lemonade :)

The Studers said...

I really love this post. You definitely took the road less traveled and I am constantly inspired by how well you have navigated that wild path. Well done to you and your whole crew. They are so sweet - so wish we could have playdates, can you imagine the mayhem (and the photo ops!)

Natalie Britton said...

I just came across your blog and I love it. I am moving to rural Alaska in August and am excited, but nervous. This post is a really great reality check for me. Rural Alaska will be isolated, but at the same time, a one-of-a-kind adventure. I'm so excited to follow your blog as I begin my journey in a native village!

-Natalie of Live Teach Alaska

Becky Kornell said...

It was so fun to see you at the party! I'm so glad your family came and had a great time! I have your map! :)