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Pigtails Flyin’ In the Wind (Subtitle: Why Saying “Parenting is Hard Work” Doesn’t Really Capture the Reality of it)

July 12, 2012

Pigtails Flyin’ In The Wind!

One of the inevitable realities of RV living – especially with kids – is that the management of time takes on new meaning.  I was chatting with a customer recently and we were talking about how parenting is hard work.  I heard myself saying to her that the phrase “hard work” doesn’t quite do it justice.  I know what hard work is.  I grew up hauling hay for 10 hour days in 110 degree Oklahoma heat waves.  Hard work I can handle.  But parenting is different.  At the end of a hard work day, you go take a long, cold shower, get a massive meal that usually involves copious amounts of dead animals and just-harvested vegetables, sit back with a cold Coca Cola and watch some A-Team reruns.  What happens at the end of a day of parenting?  TRICK QUESTION!  THERE IS NO END TO PARENTING!  It is a constant, unending, infinite drain on your soul that you are never, ever free from.  Even if they’re asleep you can’t leave to go on a walk with your spouse or out with the fellas for a movie.  Even if they’re in school you have to plan your whole day around the time to drop them off and the time to pick them up again.  Even if they’re at a play date with friends it’s just a temporary reprieve but you know they’re coming back in a minute so you rush around frantically trying to cram as much productivity as possible into that golden two-hour slice of heaven.  So no, it’s not “hard work”.  It’s a whole new way of living and thinking and being.  Parenting consumes you.  It is absolutely EVERYTHING.  It affects your work.  Your spirituality.  Your communications.  Once you step foot into the pool of parenting, you will never have dry feet again.  You just have to be OK living with soggy feet.  Here’s what that looked like for me today.

Since, at the time of this writing, I own a coffee shop and Carissa is running a Doula practice, there are just an awful lot of things that need tending to.  Today I’m supposed to be working on a promotion for our Summertime Happy Hour, letting the state of Oregon know that I changed my Business Identification Number, providing P&L statements to my lender, writing a job description for an employee who is taking on inventory management, reworking my budget to include an increased payment to the IRS, and so on and so forth.  What am I doing?  Taking pictures of my kids riding their bike around a park, with pigtails flyin’ in the wind!

(Now imagine you’re watching a TV show where they show a scene towards the end that is pretty exciting yet somewhat confusing then they flash back and across the bottom of the screen it reads:  “3 Hours Earlier”).

This morning was my scheduled administration day.  I wasn’t scheduled to work the shop, so I got up while the girls were still asleep, snuck off with my computer and headed in to the shop where I have unlimited coffee, unlimited internet access, free breakfast (sort of) and a little room in the corner where I can tuck in and get to work on some of this stuff.  Meanwhile, Carissa, ever sensitive to my pressing need to discover a few uninterrupted moments, left the RV parked in the shade and headed off to the Oregon City Zoo.  Great.  But when she returned and we all had some random items we like to call “lunch”, she headed in to the shop and there I was.  I have an entire half-day and I’m supposed to keep banging through that list but Carissa is running the shop, it’s 80 degrees out (read:  no WAY we’re hanging out inside that RV today) and I’ve got two little girls ramped up on Zoo-fun both staring at me with that “what’s next?!?” kinda look in their eyes.  Now sometimes the answer is “Girls, you’re going to have to grab a book or some art to work on and leave me alone because I *HAVE* to get this stuff done”.  But that just can NOT become the default.  There’s way too much life to live to allow the pressing task list to rob you of too many amazing daddy moments, ya know?  So we loaded up the bikes (they live at our coffee shop, chained to a boat out back) and headed over to Woodstock Park where I knew there would be abundant shade for RV parking and plenty of space for biking.  And today was a PERFECT day for some biking!  That quickly evolved to me sitting on a bench while the girls rode back and forth in front of me, with me taking pictures.  Inevitably, the “watch me Daddy!” induced me to reciprocate, and I started teaching them “tricks”.  This is referred to in some circles as “bad parenting” since it’s a little like showing them where the gun is and handing them a box of bullets.

The “Runway Model”

The “Evil Keneval”

The “Side Saddle”

This one’s called “Best Foot Forward”

I call this the “Circus Monkey”

This one’s called “Loaded PIstol”

And finally, this one is “The Silver Bullet”

Then after an hour or so of that, I was able to convince them that lying in the grass was a good idea, and I found a shade tree with a nice table (read:  computer desk) to write this post.  I hope you enjoyed it.  We are having the time of our life.

(Photo credits:  Don Niemyer, Trinity Niemyer, & Xandra Niemyer)

  1. samfowles permalink

    These photos are amazing! It looks like you guys had a great time.

  2. samfowles permalink

    The pigtails, my friend, are flyin’ in the wind. The pigtails are flyin’ in the wind.

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