Parenting With Honesty, Cold Lakes, Walmart, and Painted Pianos

Parenting.

Tough job, right? Most people have a hard enough time making good decisions for their own lives, let alone for someone else.

And me? I chose to be in charge of four other people.

Sometimes I think I’m as crazy as that sounds.

Truthfully, when I started having kids it was mostly because I wanted to be  able to say this:

i-maed-dis

As we all know, there is no manual for parenthood. The best that any child can hope for is that their parents will just do the best they can. The best they know how.

What happens when flawed people (and we’re all flawed) become flawed parents?

Seems like a big mess to me.

And sometimes (at least in our house) it is a big mess. And sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s a beautiful mess.

I have really great kids. Many people have told me over the years how lucky I am to have such well-behaved, happy kids. Not that they’re perfect, of course. And not that I’m a perfect parent, of course. I am not. Josh is not (sorry, my love).

What we are, though, is honest. I was actually fearful when my children were younger that I was too honest with them. I saw others parenting differently from me, shielding their kids more than I did, giving in to their kids more than I did my own, and I doubted. I’m entirely sure that I made lots of mistakes when my kids were small, but as I get older, I am also sure that being honest with them was not a mistake.

Of course, that honesty was tailored to their age at the time. When the kids were little, a big one for me was sharing with them that I get angry and that I make mistakes, too.  I yelled at my kids occasionally when they were little. I still yell occasionally. I get angry and frustrated and annoyed. I have always tried to apologize for that yelling, though. I lose my temper, I yell, I go calm down, and then I have to go apologize to my kids for yelling. I don’t enjoy the apologizing part, but I do it. Apologizing for my reaction to whatever they did does not justify or get them off the hook for whatever they did, of course. There are still consequences for their behavior. Always. Additionally, it is important for me to be able to recognize my own faults and shortcomings to be able to identify when an apology is necessary. That’s a form of honesty, too: admitting our own mistakes.

Another thing that Josh and I have always been honest about was the fact that, like most parents, we’re just doing the best that we can. I remember having a discussion with one of the kids around age nine or ten, when she wanted to “quit the family.” During the course of the discussion, I told said quitter that, while it doesn’t seem fair to her right now, Dad and I were in charge. Why were we in charge? Because that’s the way life works. We discussed this child’s ability to take care of herself (pretty well impossible at such a young age) and the fact that her dad and I could and did take care of her. We then discussed the fact that her parents provide for her and, in exchange, they get to make the rules. So, maybe it really was fair? Even if she wasn’t convinced, it was a fact of life that not everything is “fair.” We discussed the rules of our family that she was bristling against and why I thought they were important rules. Then we talked about the fact that when she grew up and took care of herself, these rules might not be something she felt were important and that was okay. This was the last (but not the first) conversation I had with said child about “quitting the family.”

I am convinced that honesty and communicating honestly make my family better. We’re still flawed people with our own hang-ups and issues, but so it is with everyone. No one is perfect. No family is perfect. Being honest about that helps children deal with life appropriately at an early age.

And that’s how I feel about that. Could be wrong. Could be completely flawed and delusional, but if that’s the case, my delusion seems to be working so far, so I’m gonna keep rolling with it.

Now, moving on…

Vacation is over. Josh started work today. He has already reported that he had a good first day, so that’s exciting. We’re still staying in Big B for the time being. It’s actually been really challenging to find availability at RV parks here. Apparently, Colorado is a popular place to be in the summer. We’re enjoying getting to know our new home state. Still sort of in awe of the beauty…

DSCN1657Before we ventured out of Denver, we spent an evening walking around downtown. As  it turned out, there was a sidewalk chalk festival happening that weekend. We saw some amazing art. It was a really great evening.

ChalkArtChalkArt2

The Platte River

The Platte River

Last week, we stayed at Horsetooth Reservoir in  Fort Collins. It was beautiful and a great way to spend our last week of “vacation” before Josh went back to work. The lake was freezing cold, quite different from the lakes in Arizona and Texas that we’re used to. Josh and I got in some good hikes again, so much so that we actually wore Cooper out. He’s starting to show his age. He’s just not a puppy any longer. Josh’s aunt and uncle, Diana and Carter came up from Boulder for an evening of roasting marshmallows with us. We had a great time. Kye and Taye went and stayed the night with them and Carter and Diana (as I heard from Taye) may have gotten a good chuckle out of Kye’s mispronunciation of the word tsunami. It’s pretty cute, but don’t tell him I said that. Anyway, Taye and Kye regaled us with stories of what a great time they had including the fact that it was strange to sleep on a “real bed” and the water pressure in the shower was so strong it almost “knocked me over.” Yeah, so the water pressure in Big B leaves a little to be desired, apparently. :-)

HorsetoothHorsetooth2I mentioned that it’s been challenging to find an RV park with availability, right? Well, when we left Horsetooth Reservoir we really didn’t have a place to go. We managed to find a new RV park, but they couldn’t take us until the next day. We needed a place to park overnight. Enter Walmart. The Walmart parking lot is known to fulltime RVers as a place to park overnight for free. Not all Walmarts allow it, but a lot of them do. At this particular Walmart, we had some interesting neighbors and signs everywhere proclaiming “No Overnight Parking.” All went smoothly, though, and we had a restful (free) night and are now all checked in at an RV park in Loveland for the next two weeks.

walmartToday, the kids and I went into Fort Collins and walked around downtown. We’re really having a great time learning our way around and learning what our new home has to offer. It was a great day for several reasons. The first being: the barista at Starbucks spelled my name right. Additionally, Fort Collins has several “painted pianos” scattered around downtown and I played some Beethoven for a few moments. Lastly, we are now watching Pitch Perfect for the millionth time because that’s how we roll. Well, if I’m being completely honest, that’s mostly how I roll. Aca-awesome!

FCDowntown3 FCDowntown FCDowntown2P.S. I’ve been taking a Facebook break lately and may eventually cancel my account completely. We’ll see. Also, I’ve added a Flickr button to the blog. That’s where I’m putting all the pictures from our adventures. Also, Instagram. Peace!

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9 Comments

  1. Pete Wedin
    Jun 9, 2014

    Toni, Josh, and Family:
    Thank you so much for your blog. I must say, I have not read it much of late, but today, your post is so well, Honest. I like that! Keep doing what you are doing. Parenting is so random. So many people just don’t get it that you have to roll with the punches and be like you say, honest. Some parents are luckier than others. Just love your kids for who they are ALWAYS and do the best you can with what you have. It is all you can do and you should never have regrets. You guys are living the good life. Traveling and seeing new places and people. So, will Colorado be home for a bit? It is a place Debra and I want to visit, so maybe we can circle our wagons and have a campfire? In the midst of a busy season here looking forward to big family get-together first week of July. Wish you all could be here for that, but will look forward to whenever you can come. Enjoy your writing….you have a gift. Give each other a hug from us and promise to keep honesty first. Take care. Love you! Pete

    • Toni
      Jun 10, 2014

      Captain Pete,
      Parenting is so random. I love that! Absolutely agree. Thanks so much for the comment and your kind words. I’m so grateful that you took the time to share your thoughts with me. Colorado will be our home for an as yet undetermined amount of time. It’s where the money is currently. :-) We would love, love, love to have a campfire with you and Debra! Come on down! I bet you are getting excited for the big get-together and I wish we could be there, also! Hopefully next summer we’ll get to be a part of it. Pete, thanks again. We’re grateful to count you and Debra as friends who are family. Love you!

  2. Michelle W
    Jun 9, 2014

    Awesome as always!

    • Toni
      Jun 10, 2014

      Aww, thanks for reading and commenting, Michelle!!

  3. Julie
    Jun 10, 2014

    I’ve seriously had the worst night parenting and yelled at my son. Then I read this. Thanks for saying all you did. Parenting is hard. I just want to go to bed.

    • Toni
      Jun 10, 2014

      Parenting is so hard, Julie. It takes all one has to give. And sometimes all you can do is just go to bed. I’m glad you liked the post. I hope your day is better today (and I’m sure it will be). Hugs to you!!

  4. Mandi
    Jun 10, 2014

    Thanks, mom.

    • Toni
      Jun 10, 2014

      You’re welcome, mom. :-)

      Love you!

  5. Rebecca Belcher
    Jun 16, 2014

    Great post. I enjoy reading about your adventures through life. :-)

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