Parenting Uphill

parenting uphill

This morning we were faced with the inevitable weekend dilemma: can we get out of the house fast enough to avoid another instance of battery between my kids? We have a limited window of time when we can all hang out in bed or poke around the house while the kids occupy themselves. If we wait too long they will start whining, fighting and someone WILL cry—possibly me.

It is never pretty to see a 40-year-old man reduced to tears by his well-meaning children, so I push the process of getting to the park as fast as possible. In addition, I want the wife to catch a break from the seemingly endless chants of “I want mamma,”and to get some exercise and peace of mind. I lure the little ones out the back door with a promise of adventure and pretzels. 

Weekends offer an opportunity to address housekeeping issues, yard maintenance, garage clean up, and house tidying, not to mention all of the fun waiting to be had. I am a man of many hobbies; I wish my kids would respect that and not require ongoing attention. Goodness, I have no right to complain—my partner is essentially wonder woman when it comes to handling child oversight; my biggest problem is the push-pull of being a big kid and having little ones.

We wander out of the garage, given the decision by both kids to walk versus ride in the stroller.  I would love it if someone were to chauffeur me around in a three wheeled chariot, but not these kids, they long to add an additional element of danger during our stroll through city streets. Obviously they have no idea how wonderful it can be to lay back and enjoy a hands free ride, which explains the extraordinary success of Uber.

Sometimes I feel like a draft horse as much as a parent. Load up the sled and head out with diapers, snacks, drinks, change of clothes, medications, etc. to walk five blocks to the park, turn around, and come back before the sun sets on smile time and the shadows of tired and cranky creep in. Gods forbid we forget anything and endure the public shame of a tantrum.

We wander up the street with no grace or ease. There is immediately a struggle regarding which pair of sunglasses will be worn by either child. The elder child tries to push the stroller but she is not tall enough to reach the handle; not to be outdone, the younger shoves her to the side, which leads to whines and whimpers for control of our payload. We have not reached the end of the alley and are already in need of several interventions to mitigate the power struggle of the younglings.

Fortunately I have had enough caffeine and a healthy breakfast, today I am up for the challenge. In an artful display of quick thinking I manage to have each kid fulfill a role in managing the stroller while we meander up the hill avoiding cars, a massive Akita dog wandering off leash, and an endless series of distractions in every tree, insect, flower, and bush.

Our agendas don’t mesh because I  am focused on getting to our destination while the kids find adventure in every step. I have to almost audibly remind myself that the journey is as important as the destination while we plod up the steep hill. Arriving at the first plateau my youngest wants to celebrate her accomplishment while I point to the looming threat of one more steep section.

We arrive at the top, both kids huffing and puffing for dramatic effect as much as anything else. The mirror my child spawn reflect to me reminds me how melodramatic I can be and is seriously adorable at the same time. I hope they manage to adopt more of my better qualities than the ones I am not so proud of.

I can’t help but smile as we wander into the empty playground. Twenty minutes of climbing and running around the fenced area dispels any lingering desire to be anywhere but here and now.  The intoxicating effect of my children laughing, calling out “Dada watch” and finding extreme pleasure in the simplicity of a climbing structure brings out the best in me.

These are the moments that make parenting simultaneously the most taxing and exhilarating experience of my adult life. Those who really enjoy hiking and biking in the mountains say you have to enjoy the uphill as much as the down. Maybe next time I will be more patient and attentive on the way up, for now I will enjoy the slide down as much as they do.     

Write a comment

Comments: 4
  • #1

    Charlie (Thursday, 20 August 2015 20:54)

    Be here now. Love it!

  • #2

    Danny O'Dell (Thursday, 20 August 2015 23:11)

    So today I and my 2.5 year-old twins were with a friend who has 4 kids. At one point two of her children were fighting over which side to paint on a piece of paper and, in classic form and on cue, they pulled at it from opposite directions, ripped it in half [which would seem quite a reasonable solution in and of itself], and then simultaneously burst into tears. My boys were in my lap eating grapes and we were watching this together, and, for a change, I was able to objectively enjoy the absurdity of toddler tantrums over the most senseless reasons.
    It helped that they weren't my children, of course, but mine have been there time and again. The majority of the time I see this I am an active participant in breaking up dissent, acting as counselor, redirecting attentions, scolding, soothing... into the next moment with very little break from being "on"...just transitions into other emotions and experiences.
    But today I was able to laugh openly because of the joy of the objective perspective, of not being swept into the emotions surrounding the conflict but in feeling renewed by it, to be able to better handle future events armed with a detached perspective and understanding of developmental stages ("of course she has to paint on the other side...that makes total sense to you"). Every day can seem an uphill journey for a stay-at-home parent, but sitting next to this conflict today felt like a downhill moment of Zen that will serve me well...until the next one.

  • #3

    Jill Shames (Friday, 21 August 2015 00:30)

    Parenting is such an intense spiritual challenge. Every "now" moment that you manage to experience is a gift from yourself to yourself. This moment is always present but as parents we are often too overwhelmed to experience it. Each time you do, as you did here, you deserve a major hug... From yourself.

  • #4

    Uncle Fred (Friday, 21 August 2015 13:59)

    Wow! I forgot what it was to have youngsters instead of oldsters with their more complex problems. I couldn't wait until their hands were able to reach lawnmower handle . That's a major mild stone