I’m Not Just Navigating the Desert During the Rebelle Rally, I’m Also Navigating Some Mom-Guilt

Mom-Guilt Featured Image.
Mom-Guilt Featured Image.

I’m about to embark on a journey that I know will change me.

In just a few weeks, I’ll hit the road with my friend Jill Ciminillo for the Rebelle Rally, an eight-day, 1,500-mile off-roading competition. We’re driving a custom-wrapped 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz between Nevada and California, camping out along the way. 

The driving is easy for us, since we’re both automotive journalists and have experience driving off-road for different automotive event programs. Plus, we’ve completed two different Rebelle U training sessions to better understand our vehicle and the process. The navigation part is much harder since we’re both learning from scratch how to read a topographic map and plot latitude and longitude points. 

Related: The Rebelle Rally Is Much More Than an Off-Roading Competition

Sometimes I Think About What I Might Be Missing. Photo: Kristin Shaw

Sometimes I think about what I might be missing. Photo: Kristin Shaw

But the Most Difficult Part, by far, will be Leaving my Family Behind

For eight days. Without access to my phone.

My son is 13, and he’s at the tender age where he’s starting to develop like a teen but still snuggles with me like a grade schooler. He calls me “Mama” and nearly every night before he goes to sleep, I sing to him. Last night, he sang to me one of my favorite songs that I’ve been teaching him since he was born: “Patience” by Guns N Roses. In his sweet voice, it transcends its glam metal origins and becomes something magical. 

I’m excited about this challenge, though, and I have brought him and my husband along for the ride, virtually. I’ve explained the table full of equipment I have been amassing and the maps rolled up and covered in post-it arrows and pencil markings. My family understands my pull toward adventure, and they support me one hundred percent, even if it’s not their thing. 

“You’re going camping,” my husband said incredulously when I first told him. “In a tent.” 

It’s true that the last time I camped in a tent before this past year was when I was 17 on a school trip. And yes, I hate bugs and screamed out loud last night when I saw a cockroach (thanks, Texas). And yet, when Jill and I pulled up at the campsite for training in April in the desert of Ocotillo Wells, California, I felt capable and strong after erecting our tent and hammering in the stakes to keep it from flying away. 

Related: How Two Moms, and Off-Road Novices, Are Learning the Sport Through The Rebelle Rally With The Ford Bronco Sport

Having A Lot To Learn Keeps My Mind Busy. Photo: Rebelle Rally

Having a lot to learn keeps my mind busy. Photo: Rebelle Rally

I Couldn’t Not Participate in this Challenge

Last year, the Rebelle Rally organizers invited me to cover the event as a journalist, and I got to see firsthand what it’s all about. Far beyond the competition itself, founder Emily Miller designed the rally to help women learn just how capable they are. The atmosphere of friendship and support is incredible to witness; teams stop and help each other dig out of the sand, and they share tools, tips, and tissues. When one person is frustrated or sad, there are dozens of women there ready to pick them up. It’s demanding and it’s tough. 

I knew I had to do it Myself

Trying something new transforms you and that speaks to me. After several decades on this Earth, I’ve learned about reinventing myself several times over. A painful divorce is now almost 20 years in my rearview mirror, I’ve traveled the world, and leaped from a comfortable six-figure-paying job in the corporate world to freelance writing. Each flip of the calendar grid, every pivot, every single rush of fear of change is an opportunity. 

Related: Tackling the Rebelle Rally, the Female-Only Off-Road Rally, As A Newbie

The Time Away Focusing On My Own Empowerment Is Worth Taking! Photo: Kristin Shaw

The time away focusing on my own empowerment is worth taking! Photo: Kristin Shaw

Do “good moms” leave their families behind to challenge themselves? Yes, they do for short periods of time. I’m modeling female strength for my son as well as a lifelong thirst for experiential learning. I’m a mother, and I’m a woman who has goals and dreams that orbit our family unit. He’ll see how capable he is while he witnesses my own determination, and I hope that inspires him as he grows. 

As I traverse those 1,500 miles with my fantastic teammate, I know I’m going to miss my family. I also know they’re going to be cheering for me from home and watching the live updates to see exactly where I am and how I’m doing, kind of like the way moms scour summer camp photos to catch a glimpse of their child having fun. While I’m competing, they’ll be bonding and carrying on with soccer and baseball and school and work. Maybe I’ll add “Patience” to the in-car playlist our sponsor Bose is creating for us; or maybe not because it might make me cry. 

In the last three years, I’ve earned my motorcycle license after years and years of waiting. I finally learned how to ski in February. The Rebelle Rally is next on my list and I’m going to do my very best. It’s going to be an epic, life-changing experience. And when I’m finished, I’ll rush home and gather up all the hugs I missed in the meantime, and we’ll celebrate together. 

Want to follow Kristin and Jill? Go to RebelleRally.com and scroll down to sign up for the newsletter. Big thanks to their sponsors Hyundai, Bose, She Buys Travel, Falken Tires, Rally Innovations, Truxxx, and Gear Off-Road. 

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Writer. Car fanatic. Mom. Kristin is the co-owner of auto review site Drive Mode Show and a nationally-published writer... More about Kristin Shaw