Lessons Learned on the Trail Less Traveled
Mylene on Camelback Mt.

Lessons Learned on the Trail Less Traveled

Today is my birthday and tomorrow is Mother’s Day, what better way to co-celebrate than with an adventure? Andy and I woke up at 4:45am and got the kids up on a Saturday morning, a wakeup call they would ONLY do understanding the significance of the day without a single complaint! Unfortunately, Harris did not feel great so he stayed home. Our destination? Camelback Mountain, located in Phoenix and the most iconic and challenging hikes in the area.

As I ascended Camelback Mountain, surrounded by my family, I couldn’t help but reflect on the journey of parenthood. The saying “give your children wings and they will fly” echoed in my mind. I remember hearing this for the first time when my oldest sister, Marita left for Northwestern University. 6 kids later, I absolutely recall when Mama Tessie and Papa Rudy said it when I left to enter college, and I know they continued until they were empty nesters when our youngest, #9 Rodell departed college. This mantra was passed down from my parents and continues to guide me through the trials and triumphs of raising our 2 boys, Chapman and Harris.

Camelback Mountain, with its rugged terrain and breathtaking views, served as both a physical challenge and a metaphor for parenting. As we navigated the steep trails, I found myself cautioning my son Chapman to stay on the path, to tread carefully where the trail markers guided us. Yet, his youthful exuberance led him to stray, to seek out alternate routes, much to mine and Andy’s concern.

In those moments of worry, Andy made a poignant observation. We discussed the delicate balance between guidance and letting go, between protecting our child and allowing him the freedom to explore, but also to encourage and empower our children to forge their own path. On one of Chapman’s climbs off the trail markers he said, “you got to take the road less traveled”. This resonated deeply, a reminder that sometimes the greatest lessons are learned off the beaten path.

Reaching the summit, I felt a swell of pride mixed with a bit of apprehension as Chapman raced ahead, embodying both the eagerness of youth and the independence we had nurtured in him. It was a moment of parental epiphany, a recognition that while our instinct may be to shield our children from harm, true growth comes from allowing them to chart their own course.

Chapman and Mylene

As we descended, Chapman had this boundless energy, jumping from one rock to the other and reminded me of the potential in every child. And when I stumbled, quite literally, I rolled my ankle, over my own words of caution, I was reminded once again of the unpredictable nature of parenthood. But amidst the setbacks and the uncertainties, there was a profound sense of gratitude for the journey we had shared, and we will always remember this spectacular Arizona morning hike.

In the end, my birthday hike up Camelback Mountain became more than just a physical feat; it was a reminder to trust in the resilience of our child, to nurture his spirit of curiosity and adventure, and the transformative power of motherhood. As I reflected on the lessons learned, I couldn’t help but smile, knowing that, despite the challenges that lay ahead, my children will be ready to spread their wings and soar.

So, to all the mothers out there, I offer these words of encouragement, give your children wings, and have faith that they will find their way, even if it means taking the ‘trail’ less traveled.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Mylene Richardson
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Mylene Richardson
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Mylene Richardson

Mylene Richardson

Mylene Agana Jao Richardson was born in Manila, Philippines, and is the sixth of nine children (six boys and three girls) from Tessie Agana Jao and Dr. Rodolfo Jao. Although she grew up in Indiana, her trips back to the Philippines are her most memorable family vacations. Mylene currently lives in Arizona, with her husband Andy, and their two sons, Chapman and Harris.


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