First of all, let me apologize for my poor writing habits these past two weeks… That being said, I have super exciting news! I am a kollij gradjewit!

Look at me, all handsome with my robes and such! Better yet, look at my smokin’ hot wife and adorable (and exhausted) son!

It was a crazy week of family, celebration, getting talked at, and lots and lots of eating. I was happy to have so many people I loved surrounding me, and I was happy and proud to be done with school! In celebration of my considerable accomplishments, my wife and I spent a few days this week down in Southern Utah, in the charming town of Kanab. We highly recommend it as a getaway location! I don’t know if you’ll find anywhere else in the world quite like it.

The supposed four hour drive down turned into a… Six and a half hour drive with a one year old! I would love to say that he was a perfect little ray of sunshine on the way down, but the truth is, he was a total brat. There were many driving breaks taken for the sake of my own sanity. His two favorite stopping locations: the park and the cow fields. At least he’s cute, right?

And yes, if you’re wondering, we had to change his clothes every 30 minutes…

We even let him drive at one point! And let me tell ya, he’s a total lead-foot…

One of our favorite activities is hiking, and this trip was predominantly planned as a hiking trip. We had the opportunity to do a few hikes, but none were more awesome than Bunting Trail! It was about two miles up the beautiful and unique mountains of Southern Utah, with its awe-inspiring red rock. Lizards darted around, you could hear the clattering of rattlesnakes, and the desert sun pounded down on our pasty white little family. My little man was incredibly helpful during the trip… I couldn’t have made it up the mountain without his little body strapped to my back!

After huffing and puffing up the steep slopes, and coincidentally having to backtrack to locate my son’s left croc which he so helpfully kicked off halfway up, we made it to the top! It really was beautiful.

Almost as beautiful as this chica!

Even though they lied about there being petroglyphs at the top, life was good! There’s something about mountains that are special. They’re the only place anymore where I really feel like I can be still, be quiet, and get away. This last semester has been a hectic one with lots of questions and stressful situations. Throw in the most rambunctious one year old that I’ve ever seen that is also under my direct care, and you have a daddy who was in desperate need of some time up in the mountains. And I got to be there with my two favorite humans in all of existence!

One thing that had been on my mind the entirety of graduation was the question when things would start being about me. I selfishly figured that because I was the one who was graduating, that I would be the absolute center of attention. How middle school of me, right? And I shamefully must admit that there were moments throughout that I was a little bitter that I wasn’t being celebrated more. But as I saw my son with his grandparents, talked and laughed with my family, and held my wife’s hand, I got the inkling that my thought processes were just way off.

At the top of the mountain, I realized that it will never ever be just about me ever again ever. And that’s how it should be! I am much more important as a member of my family than I am as an individual. Being a part of this whole, I am more than I ever would be all on my own… And I love it! There’s something about climbing a mountain that clears your head, orients your thoughts, and makes you realize what’s important in life. If any of you are having a hard time, I highly suggest climbing a mountain. I do descend from mountain people, though, so it could be a hereditary thing.

As we were walking back down the mountain, we began to realize that our little guy was overheating. The dessert sun, combined with being pinned to the sweaty back of his daddy, were leaving our poor chap sweltering. He started to whine weakly, and he guzzled water from my wife’s water bottle. That is, until it ran out… We were a little over a mile away from the car, and the sweet respite of air conditioning that it offered. Worry seized my chest as I thought of my guy overheating- I’ve seen heat sickness, and it is NOT pretty. He wasn’t looking very good, and I could tell my wife was worried.

I looked at my wife for a moment, and I took off running, my son bouncing up and down in his pack on my back. The entire time, I wasn’t thinking about how I needed to work out more, or about how hot I myself was becoming, or how thirsty I was. I was only worried about my child. He means that absolute world to me, and I knew that I had to get him to safety. Every time my body wanted to slow down, his health motivated me to keep going. As I neared the car, I slowed, panting and dripping with sweat. We neared the car, and I tossed him in the passenger’s seat as I turned the air on full blast, grabbing a full water bottle and helping him take sips. By the time my wife neared, he was happily playing, looking much better, if in need of a shower and a nap. That didn’t sound too bad for myself, either!

Selfishness and jealousy are silly things, but they’re silly things that we all experience. It’s those sweet moments when you get to really remember what is important that are so important to me. I love my wife, I love my son, and I am a better man for being in their lives. My accomplishments matter so very little, even if I did graduate Cum Laude. See, I managed to throw in a bragging moment, even when standing on my soapbox talking about selflessness! But I’ve realized this last week that the most important things are the things that I’ve had all along- diploma or no, glory or no, I have my family, and that’s what I want most!

In case you were wondering, we had tons of fun throughout the rest of the trip! I love this little boy.

Call of the Wild- Tales of the Mountain Baby