Steep Adventure - It's Easier Than Parenting
There have been many times over the past few years when folks have asked me, “You REALLY like climbing your bike up those steep mountains in the Tetons?” or “Is it hard to be out on your bike all day?”. Truth is, I’m not really that hard core...I just TRY to ride my bike as often as possible. Of course, my adventure riding has diminished over the past couple of years due to back issues… but that’s a story for another blog :)
My automatic response to these inquiries about my mis-perceived bad-ass-ery has been,“It’s easier than parenting!” This is also my mantra when climbing up a steep trail or smoked from an epic ride, “It’s easier than parenting, it’s easier than parenting, it’s easier than parenting…”
This mantra only applies to those HARD parenting moments of course. The super easy parenting moments when you are totally connected to your child and feel all the warm and fuzzies do not apply :)
Today we are now on the road for 1 full month and I have to be honest. The difficulties of parenting at home have been seriously amplified on the road.
The trip has been amazing and positive on some many levels, but let’s be real here. Being cooped up in a Metro area within 175 sq ft of living quarters (that’s when we are fully ‘slid out’)...with a smelly feet, hungry kiddo, an exercise starved dog with super bad breath, and a husband pouring his everything into taking our business to the next level (read: a bit more intense than usual) has not made it easy to be Super Mom…. or even Average, Sorta Good Enough Mom.
Of course... Fitzy's decision to 'decorate' the RV for Halloween did NOT help the situation!
In the comfort of home and routine, when stress is a bit less, it has been easier for me to work on the things I am not a natural at, such as listening and patience.
Listen by Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore (one of my current favs)
Here on the road where it’s hard to find routine and we’re spending more time in urban areas then we are used to, it has been challenging to work on these areas where I tend to stumble.
In between the great travel moments, meeting wonderful kids and families, and experiences that Braden would never get at home, I would be lying if I said there have not been a few tears.
I would be lying if I did not admit I question our decision most days.
I would be lying if I did not admit I question how I am doing as a Mom.
I would be lying if I did not admit I was worrying if I am raising a happy, empathetic, well balanced child (Especially, when your kid tells you “your a jerk or idiot”...I know, lovely).
Yes, these are all things that we worry about as parents, but DANG IT, I was really hoping for the glamour of the #vanlife movement. I feel jipped!
#vanlife... not as much of this...
as this :)
Yes, these are the dynamics I am personally living in right now...however intensified even more by constantly looking for then next place to fill up fresh water, dump our tanks, and a sleep safely (and quietly).
Are you hearing my Mantra in the back of your mind right now? Is it making you want to go ride your bike yet? Do you need to RUN outside?
You can imagine that the few times I have been out on my bike the Mantra above has been in FULL effect! And it’s expanding to include:
The list goes on as you can imagine. Come on steep climbs… give me all you got!
My husband thinks I was a cave woman in my past life. My son will even stop me and say “Mom, do you have to go outside” when I start to become a barking mom with theJaws shark music playing in the background.
Even a convertible can do the trick sometimes :)
You always learn alot about yourself in stressful situations. These days the Jaws shark music has been playing more than the sweet sound of calm at the end of a yoga class (you know, the music you listen to in Corpse Pose). My ability to just listen, connect, and be present for my child has always been a struggle for me but now the struggle has intensified.
We know that many parents struggle to connect with their children… especially during stressful times. This is a struggle that goes way back and is nothing new for us. Braden and I have always been a bit like oil and water and I have been navigating various ways to create a better connection with him over the years (books, podcasts, therapy, breathing, exercise…) This journey is a work in progress and I know it will likely be for the duration of my life as a parent.
What I started to learn about myself over the pre-RV-life parenting years (and the therapy:)) is I DO NOT like being indoors for very long, I need exercise as much as oxygen, and my relationships with my child and husband have way more opportunities to expand when we are in an outdoor environment. Now in the midst of RV-life, the learning has become even more solidified. GET ME ON MY BIKE!
The act of just being outside alone, or with my family, changes everything. There is no mess to clean up, there is nothing being broken or spilt on, there is no pile of laundry screaming ‘fold me’ at you. And you know what… these moments help me be a better mother and a better wife. The intense endorphin rush of a hard climb is a big fat cherry on top!
I’m sure many of you can relate to the dynamics of being a stressed out parent, short on patience, with a VERY energetic, willful boy who will hold his ground to the bitter end and operates in constant tornado mode. Or at least I hope there are many of you as that makes me feel a bit better about myself.
So what do we do about it?
For me, I ride my bike. But it’s not what you think.
Sure, when I’m out riding my bike solo there’s the re-charge magic of being alone for a bit in the outdoors. How hard can that be… no matter the difficulty of the ride I chose there have been ZERO moments on this trip (or before) where I have said. “This trail is too hard”, or “I want to be done riding”.
I can choose how fast or how slow to ride. I can choose when or even if I want to have a snack. I can even just STOP and stare up at the Redwoods for awhile without anyone asking or requiring anything from me.
What scares me at times is how much I want to just keep riding. Don’t worry family...I’ll always come back...probably… I mean, who would take care of the dog? ;)
But it’s not just about going out alone for some exercise induced escapism. I mean, I could take up running if that’s all it was. Ew.
The true ‘power of the bicycle’ comes when we ride together as a family. We get outside together. We have a shared adventure. We overcome challenges of a hill that seemed too hard to climb up and then reap the rewards of an effortless downhill. We feel the sense of freedom together.
And we have those little moments that turn into big memories.
Bike riding is not just an individual recreational pastime. It’s also a family wellness activity. One of the best there is! And I’m not just talking about physical wellness… I’m talking about emotional and mental wellness! Isn’t that what we all really want? For us… and our kiddos?
And you can do it to. GET OUTSIDE! GET ON YOUR BIKES!
So for now, as we continue on this truly special journey, I will focus on celebrating the many small accomplishments each day and get myself (and my family) on more rides! I’m so thankful to know what we can do as a family to repair and connect.
More than anything else I’ve learned so far on this trip, I love that our work to get more families connected through the bike actually works... even in the most stressful times!
Please let me know what your parenting Mantra is? Would love to hear it.