I am simply one person who has always loved nature. Finding my home, my peace, and my solitude began to make more sense as I aged, but still, the daunting idea that I am only one person followed me when the despair and damage had become more and more evident. The first who began to follow in my footsteps were my three stepchildren. From a young age, we would instead wander through the creeks of the places less frequently visited than play on the playgrounds placed conveniently on the edge of the suburbs.

Small tasks became normal when we started picking up trash during our hikes or slowing down to marvel at the wilderness rather than handling it like it was just something there to entertain us. I taught them all I knew, and when their thirst for knowledge wanted more, I learned right alongside them. I watched with amazement as they carried this wild and natural part of them through their days.

My Bonus Kids

A book about spiders took a young boy who struggled with schooling and attention deficit and turned him into a quiet and calmer child, one who read far beyond his grade level and become driven to learn the scientific names at the young age of 8. He was not the only one who grew years; it seemed from every trip out in our little pieces of heaven. Just the one people noticed the most.

However, I was able to see a little girl who finally relaxed. She felt at home. She was the oldest, and her ever-watchful eye over her younger brothers never fully relaxed but eased significantly. She was less stressed, her anxiety calmed, and the little girl who had grown up far too fast was once again a child running, laughing, and playing.

The youngest of the three, whom was also the quietest, usually walked around carrying the weight of the world. At six years old, he was constantly concerned about things that most 6-year-olds never even knew existed, and instead of relaxing this quiet boy, mother nature found it more fitting to release him. He screamed, splashed, wandered off into new places, and we followed.

My love for nature grew as my love for watching them in nature blossomed. As they grew and aged, heartbreak, school, and life, in general, slowed down our visits to our favorite places. We still strived to go out together as much as possible, but our visits diminished as my health, time, and motivation did.

The Second Act

When my oldest son was born, I was still mourning the loss of my first son. In a way most delicately put, I will always be mourning the loss of my first son. His ashes lay in a waterfall that is a beautiful oasis and short hike in the middle of the city.

So in awe that I was holding my rainbow child in my arms and thankful for every cry, I put my love for nature aside to bask in awe of him. The first time we walked to the waterfall with a small 6-month-old in my arms, I immediately felt peace. I watched as my little man watched children play and watched his eyes widen with every new sound.

I felt at peace yet felt the need to drive for more. I assume mother natures subtle way of telling me she had enough of my excuses, and as I took in a deep breath with tears flowing from my eyes, I felt at home. It was a feeling I had longed for since the moment I watched my child take his last breath. Now, I had to try my best to put one foot in front of another and keep moving, if not for myself or even for the child in my arms, for the soul of my little angel.

Free Forest School Set Them Free

A chronic helicopter mom and general anxiety-ridden mess now had 2 little rainbow babies who loved everything about the outdoors. Shortly after my second rainbow was born, I decided they deserved better.

We discovered a group called Free Forest School, which was a group of parents with children of all ages that simply cherished the outdoors and the natural instincts of their children. Tentative at first, I showed up to our first meeting with two little boys and my mother-in-law in tow. My mother-in-law was a beacon of support and someone I knew loved the children with all her heart.

We set and read a story, shared snacks (before COVID), and the kids were just… kids. Then suddenly, the parents stood up and said, let’s go, and all the kids lead them throughout the park. My boys hovered close to me and watched with wide eyes as the kids started running and playing. I look at them, slightly ashamed that I hadn’t done this before, and said, “lead the way.”

My oldest wandered out of the place our groups sat and followed the other children to a small shallow area of the creek. I discussed with some of the parents and watched hesitantly as they walked into the water.

The Best Is Yet To Come

It wasn’t until I realized the whole point of this group is to let the kids lead that I tried to take a step back. As I did, I was blessed to be around other parents who sensed my hesitation and seemly watched the boys just as they were watching their own children. I tried to fall behind, and when a tentative hand reached out for me, other mothers were quick to step in and assist.

They played as they had never played before. We did scavenger hunts and made friends. The boys were always dripping wet, covered in mud, running through the brush, and simply put… unleashed.

After a few trips, we started craving more. Once COVID hit, for the safety of the children, Free Forest School stopped meeting. We were already in love with the rules, the ideals, and everything about it. We started going on our own and even tried different parks. Sometimes we spent a whole hour just running through a puddle made by the spring rain.

They Fell In Love

We carry a lot of the Free Forest School ideals whenever we go exploring. Sometimes we even just do a scavenger hunt in our own yard. We have started a vegetable garden, we learn about the wildlife around us, and Free Forest School reminded us what we are striving to save.

This is not my story of heroism, nor have I saved the world in any way. I have, however, raised 5 children to see the good in life and the wonders of nature. We do as much as possible to reduce our carbon footprint and leave only fond memories.

The true heroes are those who started, those who facilitate, and those who participate in Free Forest School. They remind a generation that we are not fighting for oil, gold, or gas. We are fighting for our home, for the essence that gave us life, for the miracle of the food she provides us every day.
We are raising the heroes of tomorrow, those who are taught to love her and chose to save her.

-The Un-Traditional Mother


Free Forest School s starting to meet again! There are no fees, no pressure, just fun! If you are interested in Free Forest School, please visit https://www.freeforestschool.org/ or find them on Facebook. If there is not a group in your area, start one!