Susan J. Demas: Hitting the trail, a Mother's Day tradition

Susan J. Demas, Pinckney Recreation Area, May 2016

Susan J. Demas, Pinckney Recreation Area, May 2016

Mother's Day is usually just another day for me. 

Due to a quirk in the calendar, I usually don't see my daughter until the evening (ah, divorce). And my stepson is with his own mother, as he should be.

There are Christmases, Thanksgivings and Easters when my whole family isn't together. It's hard for relatives to keep track and they inevitably ask where the other child is, followed up by some well-meaning, but painful commentary on the family court system. 

What I've learned from all this is that any holiday is just a day. It can be celebrated at another time, without losing any whimsy or meaning for the kids. As for Mother's Day, I really don't need any special day acknowledging that I'm a parent. It's a choice I made and I'd make it a thousand times over. Symbolism is overrated.

So for the past several years, I've come up with my own tradition, which I think beats runny eggs and cold coffee in bed.

Susan J. Demas, May 2016

Susan J. Demas, May 2016

I take a Mother's Day hike by myself. Sometimes I've planned a weekend trip and muddy my boots for 12 miles. Other times I'll only venture out for a couple of hours closer to home. 

I almost didn't hit the trail yesterday. I'd already been to the gym earlier and I plenty of work on my plate. Mother's Day also isn't quite as lonely since I've remarried.

But I decided not to overthink it (a persistent habit) and headed to a familiar haven, the Pinckney Recreation Area. For the first mile, I was somewhat grumpy, as I don't hike as much as I used to, and it takes longer to find my rhythm. It happened somewhat gradually, as I trudged past blossoming black oak trees and patches of wildflowers mixed in with dandelions.

At mile three, I unexpectedly had a breakthrough on a piece I've been working on for months. That's one of the reasons why I find hiking so addictive. It allows me to approach my problems and writing in a different way.

Mother's Day is often about giving ourselves permission to do something for ourselves –– reading a book, getting a manicure, enjoying a meal cooked by someone else.

For me, it's about letting myself enjoy a few moments of stillness in the forest, where I can finally hear myself think.

Susan J. Demas is Publisher and Editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a nationally acclaimed, biweekly political newsletter. Her political columns can be found at Follow her on Twitter here.