Adventure Parenting

Talked about J in a phone conversation with my sis.

I was telling Ann how J said she missed me as an adventuring buddy, but that she claimed we hadn’t done anything in the last 2 years. Since we became parents.

It’s so untrue. Here is a list of things we have done with Little Man, in no particular order:

  • Camp at the San Rafael Swell in Utah and spend 2 days wading through slot canyons and walking on canyon rims.
  • Camp in Nevada with a big group of botanists, then go on our own (myself, J, Little Man, and my dog, Ziggy) to hike up a big, dry desert peak. We signed the summit register up top, and when we got back down to the road I jogged back to the car and drove to pick everybody up. It was the first time I felt like I had my body back after pregnancy and giving birth. Little Man was 1 month old on this trip.
  • Camp and hike in some wild, rolling countryside with a newborn (I think Little Man was only 2 weeks old on the first trip) while J looked for rare plants in his/her (pronouns were masculine back then) free time.
  • Supply my dad and his brothers when they came out to do a big hiking loop in Idaho. We hiked with them a little and camped for a couple nights.
  • Snowshoe with Little Man and other parents at a nearby ski area
  • Hike, wade, and bushwhack with Little Man and Ziggy through a canyon in the Owyhees. Saw a rainbow, hiked overland back to the car along a jeep road in the dark, with lightning and thunder in the distance.
  • We explored rock hoodoos at the City of Rocks with dog and kid.
  • Then there were the many times during Little Man’s first summer that I drove out to where J was doing field work so we could all camp together. And all the hikes I did (I was out almost every day for the first year and a half of Little Man’s life) in the countryside near where we live. Sometimes I convinced J to join me on my rambles near home, but mostly she wasn’t interested in coming.

I’m proud of how much we got out during those early parenting days. I understand J’s frustration to some extent. We weren’t doing the epic adventures we once had done. But we were learning how to operate with a baby, and we were doing a lot of stuff nobody else seemed to be taking really young children on. I saw the glass as half full; J saw it as half empty. Now she talks as though the glass had no water in it at all. It’s sad… Mostly for her.

I was going to discuss what Ann said about J’s attitude, but I’m tired and I suddenly realized that I can’t remember what Ann said, or exactly how she put it. At any rate, she has also noticed something that I had noticed about J in recent years: a tendency to latch on to certain ideas, to refuse to consider any other viewpoints, and to blame circumstances / other people for her unhappiness. This wasn’t just a “hiking is no fun anymore” complaint from J. It came up in lots of areas of our lives together. For example…Getting upset at her supervisor at work for giving her a partly critical performance review, when J had been suffering from postpartum depression and focusing on playing computer games late at night as a coping mechanism. The poor performance was understandable and I could sympathize with J’s struggles, but I hated it when she refused to see that some of the performance review was warranted, choosing instead to think that her supervisor had something against her personally. J did, much later in a couple’s counseling session, acknowledge that she was not performing at her best, but her initial reaction was, and is, to put the blame elsewhere.

I miss having her as an adventure buddy, but I’m tired of her skewed viewpoints.

Also, if I haven’t mentioned here before, I want to take Little Man on a short backpacking trip this summer. Nothing too ambitious. But we have only car camped before, and I want to see what the transportation logistics will be to carry baby plus gear as a single parent.

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