A Meltdown in Yellowstone

34 years ago I took my 2 little kids to Yellowstone and camped at Lewis Lake campground. In 2015, while driving through Yellowstone, I found the same campground and took this picture.

It may or may not be the same one, but it took me back to those days of raising my kids. Thinking of the memories of their little dirty camping faces and smiles. The ponds. the frogs, the marshmallows. We were making memories without even realizing it.

I was completely overcome with emotion of these images from so many years ago.

34 yrs happened in the flash of an eye. 1/3 of our lives, yet at the time, it seemed so long. The days seemed overcome with taking care of everyone’s needs. The busy-ness of school, making meals, endless car rides to sports.

At the time, I would collapse into bed at night exhausted, wondering what I had even accomplished. But now I know: I accomplished life.

I provided 5 little humans with love, connection and a mostly stable life. Our lives were not perfect and we lived paycheck to paycheck. We struggled with how to handle the changes & challenges of life. But my kids grew up knowing they were part of a tribe, who had a purpose. A purpose of getting through each day with the consistently of family and taking advantage of what life had to offer.

Now that they are all grown and have had to face the harsh darkness of what life can throw at us; it’s sometimes easy to fall into the “what could I have done differently” thoughts. These thoughts can only lead us to more turmoil. They don’t serve us well. They don’t offer hope or peace.

I was often told back then, to enjoy my kids while they are little. At the time I thought the people who said that, must not understand how stressful my life was. Now I know. They knew what was coming. They knew how little control over adults, parents have. They knew the temptations and demons that we’re out there just waiting for our innocent little kids.

They wanted me to have all the precious time I could while my kids were somewhat within my reach. I took their advice for the most part. I tried to expose my children to the great outdoors. So they could appreciate the simple things. Sacrifices we’re made so we could take meaningful vacations. This tradition continued into their adulthood and is one more casualty that addiction can take the blue ribbon for. Fracturing us just enough to stop the bonding and fun activities that were done together.

It’s not all gloom & doom. Some of my kids are thriving. It’s fun to see the good things they have done as adults & there are so many amazing, wonderful grandkids. It all goes back to those first years of learning and growing together. Yes, I’m going to take credit for the good, and I’m going to take some of the blame for the bad.

It’s ok to have a few regrets. Each person has their own personal responsibility for their life and the impact it has had on others.

It’s the ruminating in those regrets that keeps us stuck. Just be happy for the memories and for all the time spent together. And if you’re in despair over what happened to your “child”; take comfort in knowing that you did the best you could with what tools you had. It’s about moving forward with hope and love.

Don’t ever underestimate the impact their childhood had on their personalities and core values. They still have them, they’re just buried under their struggles. They can get out from under them.


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Samantha Waters

A unique perspective on the world from a small town girl turned big city nurse. Now a grandmother to 6 gregarious, resplendent boys and 5 endearing, magical girls, she strives the make the world a more understanding, pleasant place to experience this intense thing called life.

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