What have we learned in the last 20 months?
That when Little Bear is outside most of each day, every day, life is pretty simple. His appetite for motion is insatiable, and the world of streets and four walls doesn’t frame that very easily.
That people are even more ready to snap judge others parenting than I had thought. The readiness of strangers to come up and comment, on any range of things, often has me contemplating a hair cut and tattoos which would hopefully, presumably tamp this down.
That toddler balance bikes are one of the best inventions, ever. LB has had his Yuba since his first birthday, and lots of uneasy pushing in the backyard this fall and winter must have set the stage for a startling transformation early this month, when he went from barely kicking along to full on gliding in about two weeks. Now his distance record is approaching three miles.
That most people, businesses, and places of employment will say they are kid and family friendly, but the number which really stop and take action to show they understand what that means are few. My appreciation for, and continued patronage of, the few who get this right is far more fervent than I ever would have thought. It’s hard to hold many that far in contempt, as 22 months ago I didn’t have a clue. On the other hand, the persistence of prejudice largely but not exclusively at the hands of the older generation is discouraging. Those who don’t see the need for a changing table in the men’s room, or would think that I’d spend outside time with my family, are hard subjects for patience.
My appreciation for Patagonia’s toddler clothing has only grown, as well as the thought Osprey puts into their kid carriers. Kid gear can’t be a high-margin thing, but now that he’s so mobile, and has ambition which so often outstrips his balance, LB needs quick-dry gear at least as much as I do.
Lastly, we’ve begun to come around to car camping. Not so much because of the heavy packs required, but because of the way nice grassy camp sights make kid locomotion and it’s supervision less energy intensive. LB’s expectations have been shaped by modern civilization, and while he is a flexible creature, does not appreciate a landscape which completely shuts him down. Which is a mirror of my gratitude that while he is an amazing pain in ass on a daily basis, and has changed our life completely, he hasn’t eliminated many of the things in which we found joy during the pre-baby era. Indeed, with reasonable accommodation they’re as fun and satisfying as ever.
It is easy to co-parent and alternate with one on baby duty and another being productive (be it sewing or mountain biking). And this is a necessary approach to get much done most days. But the best days are always the ones where we’re all fully present and doing the same thing. I’ve always liked working, and am currently swimming in job stuff, both current and potential, here and elsewhere, but family life has been good enough that could I take the next 20 months off to chase the kid full time, I might well do it.