Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It Takes A (Kayaking) Village

Another blogpost about the adventures of motherhood and kayaking from guest-blogger, Lori Neufeld

Dan and I learnt very early on, even before Finley was born, that paddling as a family would require a lot more hands than just ours.  But we didnt expect to have so much support from our families, friends and the paddling community.

Christine Haylock -My dear friend and the editor of my blog posts!  She's full of wisdom and encouragement.  Kayaking photo taken by Dan on the Kananaskis River.
Finley has some pretty great people to stay with when its an adults only day on the water and were grateful for the many hours that our parents, siblings, and others have spent caring for her.  But its been other kayakers that have surprised me the most by their patience and willingness to help whenever possible.  From rocking an upset newborn at paddling festivals, to unloading my gear while I get Finley out of the car; our paddling friends are always stepping up to the plate.  Theyve blessed us with all sorts of gifts, given up their own paddling time so I could get on the water, and continue to carpool with me, even if that means some extra work or an early curfew.  Theyve lugged strollers and diaper bags through airports, done laps around the pool with a toddler in tow, and one of my friends has even started his own, get young mothers who paddle on the water program;  Im currently the only member.

Sierra Stinson -Auntie Sierra swears she's never having kids of her own, but she adores Finn and is always up for an adventure!  Kayaking photo by Hayley McKee at Pushbutton on the Ottawa River.

So what can you expect when you invite a new mom like me on your next paddling adventure?  Well, first off, THANK YOU!  Yes, my life is in chaos some days and I spend more time washing laundry then wearing it, but I still want to go kayaking!  I wont always say yes, but I really appreciate your invite.  Secondly, when I get into the car and look like Ive been up all night I have been.  But give me an hour or so of peace and quiet and Ill be good as new.  When we get to the put in and you notice that Im taking far longer than everyone else to suit up, dont worry.  My gear just doesnt quite fit the same as it used to and Ive got hip pads to adjust and clothing to work my way in to.  If this is a day that the little one is coming along, youve got a whole new set of challenges to work with.  Between extra clothing, carseats and piles of snacks, youre losing at least 2-3 seats in your shuttle vehicle.  But there will be Goldfish crackers for all!  You might feel more like a Sherpa than a paddler and wonder why I packed so much stuff.  Trust me, its all necessary.  Throughout the day there will be many bouts of crying.  If Im not stressing over it, you dont need to either.  Kids are funny and mine talks about those tearful times with memories of laughter and joy.  And at the end of day, when youre unstrapping my boat and Im chasing my runaway toddler down the sidewalk, know that this might have been the only day this week that Ill get to exercise, socialize, and enjoy my favourite hobby.  Ive got another sleepless night ahead of me, but Im more energized than ever.

Cathy Woods -An art teacher by day, Cathy is great with kids and has a passion for getting them outdoors.  Kayaking photo by Dan on the Kananaskis River.

Continuing to kayak during this stage of parenting has been a lot more work than I anticipated.  But its not impossible, especially with others who are so eager to help us.  So whether youre one of our close paddling friends or support another kayaking mom, Dan and I salute you.  Were beyond grateful for everyone supporting us on this journey.

Andy Hill -Andy was terrified to go near Finn when she was first born.  Now they're buddies!  Kayaking photo taken by Thomas Farren at Bus Eater on the Ottawa River.

Steven Walker -At only 18 years old, Steven paddles hard, he's the kindest and most helpful kid around (we're not sure how his mom got so lucky!) and he babysits for us on weekends!  Kayaking photo by Dan at Sturgeon Falls.

Judy Wilson -A true river mom, Judy's constantly checking in on me and helping out.  I don't know where I'd be without her!  Kayaking photo taken by John Woods at Fort Whyte Alive.

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Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin