Last month my husband and I got to go on trek for our second time, this time with our 15 year old son! The first time we went, 5 years ago, the women's pull was very effective, so much that I NEVER wanted to do that again. We started out with just the mas pulling the handcarts. As I tried to start, I discovered my handcart was stuck on a little rock. It took all I had to get it rolling. Not soon after, I thought I was going to die. My heart was pounding harder than it ever has. I seriously wondered if I was going to have a heart attack or stroke. My breathing got very shallow and I wondered if that's what asthma felt like as I struggled for breath. I was so glad when "my" daughters were able to join me when the slope started, and then the sons and husbands as we got near the top of the hill. When we all stopped, we "processed" our experience and talked about how there are some things women do that men just can't help with. We talked about how when a woman has a baby, that's something she has to do on her own, and her husband just stands there wishing he could do something to help. We talked about other things, but I don't recall the details.
On this recent trek, they were careful to make the women's pull not too hard; however, they were so careful that it was pretty easy. The guys hiked off with some handcarts, and then women from different families joined up together. I think most of us families ended up with more people pushing the carts than we did when our men were with us. Girls complained that this was so easy, and that they'd made it easy because they didn't think we could do it. It was kind of a sad, missed opportunity. At the top of the hill, my husband and I still wanted to "process" with the kids. We talked about how sometimes we women have to do things alone, but that we CAN do it. We talked about how we are strong. We talked about men and women are different and we're meant to be that way, and it is ok to accept help from men; we don't HAVE to do it on our own, even if we are able.
After trek I was thinking about how much prep I'd done for trek, for me, my husband, and son, and even in sewing clothing with one of my daughters for others. Preparations started months in advance. Then there was cleaning up trek and returning all the borrowed stuff. Then there was preparing for the family reunion, and of course normal housekeeping and cooking, appointments, calling, kids activities, etc. etc. I was getting burned out and fighting colds and getting cold sores. I realized I was pulling the handcart alone or almost alone. My husband was busy with work and his calling and not thinking much how he could help me. I could have asked him for help, but saw he was just busy. I could have somehow talked the kids into helping more, but it's so hard when they resist. I don't know how I could have gotten more help, but the point was driven that we all have to be aware of those around us so that we can notice when they are pulling the handcart alone and do something about it.
On a related, but different note, I had the feeling on trek that youth need to feel useful. Our present culture often allows teens this lifestyle where they are spoon-fed, yet they are sad (especially where we live), and I wonder if they need to feel needed. I've heard that the teen years (and even into the 20s these days) is a new invention. Years ago, a person went from being a child to being an adult with adult responsibilities without these middle years. I realized that pulling handcarts is a really good way to make everyone feel needed, and the kids on trek were generally SO HAPPY. I now keep pondering how can I help my teenagers feel needed and critical to our family unit. I'm sure there's a way to meet their need to be needed and my need to not pull the handcart alone. But why is it easier to get your kid to pull a handcart than to vacuum out the car?