Smelly Socks: They All Grow Up Sooner Rather Than Later

April 2, 2017 at midnight

By Johanna Bloom

As a seventh-generation Texan, I am more than a little embarrassed to say I have never been to the Texas treasure that is Big Bend National Park.

This spring break, we decided to remedy this stern violation of being a multi-generational Texan family, and we loaded up John's beloved Land Cruiser. Since I don't even pretend to be a camper, we booked a room at Chisos Mountain Lodge and headed for a few days of adventure in the desert.

Something strange happens when you are stuck in a car with your family for an eight-hour, one-way road trip: You talk.

Then you check in to your room and are captive in a room with no TV, no telephone and no Wi-Fi. You really, really talk. You act tough and unaffected thinking that we are here to take in the sheer beauty of the rough desert terrain.

Then the realization that you are out of touch with the outside world starts to grate on you a little. At night, you toss nervously in your sleep and mumble comments like, "I wonder what he tweeted today. Did Princess Kate re-wear another dress?" and "Who is on Dancing with the Stars?" John's phone was not constantly dinging with work issues and reports, and teenage angst was running rampant. When a whole lot of nothing is going on, you really, really talk. Conversation tends to flow freely because frankly, what else can you do.

Hiking the famed Window Trail and the Santa Elena trails at Big Bend, and driving to historic Terlingua, Marfa and Marathon all worked out our nervous energy.

Therefore, all of the discussions we had were genuine and from the heart, with no silliness or pettiness because we left all of that mixed with our sweat out on the trails.

I was able to listen to my boys, and they were able to listen to me.

I then made the revelation that John and I successfully raised our boys into young men.

That is the hope when you become a parent and spend sleepless nights worrying about if you are doing this whole parenting job right.

Suddenly, you look up at them one day as they are towering over you, with hair on their chins, deep voices, and you realize that it happened. Your little boys are no longer little.

When I started writing Smelly Socks five years ago, I set out to focus on the various challenges of raising two opposite and extremely rowdy, ranch boys. Through the trials and tribulations of parenthood, I have discovered and wrote that sometimes a shrug of the shoulders, a slight chuckle from the lips and lots of prayer can work wonders for an exhausted mother who raises boys and loves to write about it all. I try to find the humor in all of life's everyday occurrences, because I realized in raising my boys that there are so many ways to handle every situation. Sometimes I handled certain situations wrong, and sometimes I handled them right, but in every situation I strived to learn and sometimes try something different the next time.

Smelly Socks has served its purpose, and I have absolutely loved every minute of sharing our life with you. As my children have grown into young men, I have decided that Smelly Socks has run its course, and this will be my last column. I want to thank my readers for welcoming my family into their busy lives on Sundays and for sharing all of your comments and encouragement in this parenting game that we are all in together.

I also want to thank The Victoria Advocate for realizing that a nice, uplifting column about parenting can be appreciated and enjoyed by their readers. I am now on to new adventures, and believe me, I will certainly be writing about it all.

Johanna is a proud seventh generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom at or visit her blog at



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