“Know your garden. It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community. Be good to each other and do not look outside yourself for the leader…”
– Hopi Elder
A blog about a single father with shared custody raising his 9 year old daughter with insights and the point of view of an outdoor adventure river guide….
I think that very few people come to guiding as something they knew inherently that they always wanted to do. I think that it is slim to none the amount of kids that during career day stand up in front of their peers dressed in their bathing suit and a life jacket with a throw rope and say, “I want to be a river guide.” I came into guiding, just like I came into parenting…unexpectedly and by happenstance. One was an invitation and the other was a phone call (I found out I was going to be a dad via a phone call to state the obvious). At least for rafting, I was extended an invitation. Looking back at
the last 9 years I have been raising my daughter, one thing is evident. My approach to parenting has been primarily shaped from my 16 years leading tours and expeditions in the outdoors. I approach many situations in the same manner I would if I was on the water. I scout and portage when needed but most of the time, I just read and run. As everyone can probably relate, we are many things and we occur to people in many ways. Similarly I consider myself many things, a mish mash of my passions, experiences and roles. I would say that I am a traveler, an outdoor adventure guide, a paddle boarder, rafter, a small business owner, a martial artist, a Hispanic male of Cuban descent, a poet, a musician, but none would I say I cherish or hold more dear than being daddy to my 9 year old daughter, Camille.
Life is full of so many wonderful unexpected turns and hiccups. When I was learning to run rivers in Central America, no one would have been able to tell me that I would be where I am now and applying those same skills and insights to parenting. I would have never envisioned myself putting on a “Daddy Salon,” where I blow dry and brush her hair after her showers. That I would willingly sit through a Hannah Montana movie just to share a bag of popcorn with her and proudly watch her dance in the aisles when a song would come on. It would have been inconceivable to think I would be both host and chef at our nightly sit down dinners and share our table with her 3 American Girl Dolls Mckenna, Mary Grace and Kaya. No one would have told a music snob like myself, that I would have an extensive playlist from High School Musical. I am a quasi fashion consultant that every morning approves her fashionable ensemble for the fourth grade. She is 9 and I have all ready gotten the full closet with nothing to wear line! I am a reading coach and a math tutor. As an English major, 4th grade math is about all I am comfortable with so I am already experiencing anxiety about the 5th grade.
In river guiding, there is a term for when you come up to something for the first time and choose to navigate it without scouting or analyzing it from the bank or shore. The term is called reading and running. When you read and run, you are immersed in the present moment. You use all your accumulated knowledge and experience and you pick the best line. You take in all you can see from the vantage point of mid current and navigate accordingly. You are always looking 50-100 yards downstream and you commit, for better or worse, to your course. This is how I parent and raise my child.
Even though I am a single father with shared custody of my daughter, I don’t intend this to be solely for men, or for single parents of any gender. Using the analogy of a river for life, it is not a freshly paved or straight road. It is a winding and determined force that carves canyons on its way to the sea. There isn’t one set way to run a river or a rapid. I have been on it like many of you. I haven’t been a spectator from shore or from cliffs up above. I have seen my share of successes and catastrophes. I have lingered in large recirculating eddies and been maytagged in massive school bus size hydraulics. I have capsized. I have been cast from my raft and been kept deep underwater in the dark, cold, relentless current. When almost out of breath, I have miraculously surfaced right on time. Parenting is not easy and anyone who says they knew exactly what they were in for when they started is talking a lot of gibberish. I think we learn through discourse, sharing and looking at things from different points of view. This creates the opportunity for us to access new methods or greater possibilities in our relationships. Ideally and hopefully, this makes us more conscious, present and responsible parents.
I share this because I am sure many of you have gone through or are currently right in the middle of where I am or have been. Not knowing where the next paycheck is coming from or if it is going to be enough. Trying so hard to make it on one paycheck. Being torn through the difficulties of a long drawn legal battle. Being behind on your bills because you have to put gas in the car
and food on the table. Saving, scrounging and sacrificing for the one thing she wants for her birthday or Christmas so that it makes it memorable and perfect whatever the cost it is to you. Trying to date someone who will understand and willingly undertake the demands and the trials of a situation riddled with baggage and financial insecurities. I am not writing this from some position where I have figured it all out and have some nest egg and security blanket. I am just as exposed or even more so than many of you potentially reading this. Just know that someone is in the current along with you.
I will close this first entry by acknowledging that though we may touch upon trials and hardships, I want this be a celebration. A celebration for those of us out in the crazy river with no judgment or criticism. My father once wisely told me that the day we become an adult is when we realize that our parents were just people, making it up as they went along, doing the best job they could do. Hopefully through my sharing and perspective I can be a resource and companion to you. I look forward to sharing, collaborating and proving that no matter how hard things are in the moment we are never at it alone. I hope that my authentic sharing creates a space for you to explore the way you are raising your child or children. And, if any tidbit of what I share enhances or strengthens the bond you have with the miracles you have brought into the world, then I am both overjoyed and fulfilled. “We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for.”
Your Daddy Salon Executive, Crust Surgeon, Spaghetti Chef, 4th Grade Fashion Consultant, Daddy Chauffer, Mediocre Musician friend in parenting.
Starting and ending every day with huggies and kissies, and as always… reading and running!
Full Hopi Elder Quote:
“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour. Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour. And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden. It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community. Be good to each other and do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!”