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Alone in a crowd.

I learned a hard lesson today - being an older mom of a toddler puts me in a demographic that is very different than most of my friends and acquaintances. I know this. Intellectually, I get it. And maybe I haven't obsessed about it because for the most part I belong to a loving, caring Christian community or likeminded homeschoolers that are very much pro-life and pro-family.

But today I had an experience where I felt like a third wheel, because of my toddler.

My homeschool group has fall hikes every Friday for about the first four weeks of autumn. I've gone before, but this year I wasn't sure if I wanted to take Rosie or not. She's not a baby, so she doesn't really like to be in a sling or a back pack. She will ride in a stroller for a while, but she fights to get out, and then she fights to get back in. It's a struggle to take it. Besides the hiking trails aren't always stroller friendly. Today's hike was only 1.2 miles and I've walked a mile with Rosie before, so I figured we'd go for it.

It was a beautiful day and the park was so inviting. We were one of the first families there, but eventually the parking lot was full of mini vans and full sized vans and the grassy area filled with homeschooled families.

And then the hike commenced. At first I was walking with a few gals that I knew well and consider to be my friends. But after the first five minutes it was clear that Rosie was going to walk to her own pace. I fell behind my friends. They kept talking and moved on. My sons had moved far ahead with their crowd as well.

From time to time, another group of homeschool moms would meet us and greet us, but they too moved past. It got to the point that about half an hour into it, I knew that I was going to be walking the park pretty much alone, with my toddler and my 8-year-old daughter who was kind enough to stay with me.

I wondered, was I so boring or slow that no body wanted to stay back and walk casually with me while my toddler touched the trees and the flowers and the dirt? Was the only purpose of the hike to get some aerobic training in for the day and then picnic with the group at the end?

Well apparently yea! That is the point! I came out of the woods with Rosie drenched with sweat from trying to carry a 30 pound little girl through the woods and catch up with the crowd. By the time I got there the picnic was well under way and even my own boys were chowing down on the sandwiches and other food we brought (my fault for letting them have the car keys!)

I felt just really...sad.

I don't think we'll go again, or if we do I'll just stay at the picnic area and wait for my kids to hike. At least then I'll get something to eat. But I was just surprised that of all the moms who went, not one offered to stay with me.

These things usually happen to me for a reason. It's either because I was insensitive to someone else in need like this in my past - or because I needed to develop some sensitivity for something I will encounter in the future. I'll have to think about that.

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