Travel normally offers me an introspective time away – a break from everyday demands that allows me to do some reflecting on my life. For the most part, it is an inward journey through my thoughts, peppered with conversations with travel mates when the time is right. In addition to the joy and richness that comes from exploring new places, or challenging myself physically, this opportunity to reflect is one of the reasons I enjoy travelling, and make it a priority in my life.
If there is one thing that really doesn’t mesh with jet lag it’s a baby. Whether parenting a baby or being a baby, it’s a whole lot easier to just stay in the same time zone.
It hits us from time to time just how travel with a baby is different. This morning, I couldn’t help but think of the first episode of Breaking Bad when at 2am I looked over at Paul, who was sitting in his underwear, half-awake, cutting grapes into quarters. Given some context, it made total sense: baby, still on Mountain Time, was up for some playtime and breakfast.
I don’t think I have ever felt so scattered trying to prepare for a trip. I say “trying” because it feels like a bit of an uphill battle. Babies are sneaky little creatures. No matter which tactics you use to distract them, they somehow manage to undo any progress on the packing front. Items laid out neatly on the bed end up on the floor, under the dresser, in the hallway. I wouldn’t be surprised if Maya managed to make some items disappear altogether by snapping her sticky little fingers.
It’s hard to think that any other year could be as intensely emotional and joy-filled or adventurous as this one. But another year lies ahead, and one that I am looking forward to with a good helping of curiosity. Life with a one-year-old will bring many new experiences. Careers are shifting. And home is becoming more settled even while adventure and travel are on the books. New Years is a day of resolutions, and while many people struggle to keep them, I am one of the luckier ones for whom goal setting does a great deal of good. Without being too strict or specific, there are a few things on my mind as we kick off a new year.
If there’s a three-word phrase I’ve heard as much as “Just you wait…” as a new parent it would be “Enjoy it because….”. Both phrases are meant to inspire me to appreciate what I have in the here and now. But, I have to say, they both make my skin crawl. As if parenting wasn’t challenging enough, people have to constantly remind me of how much harder it’s going to get. Or that there is something worth dreading on the journey ahead.
I just spent the week at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, the annual gathering of adventurers, adrenaline junkies, mountain artists and authors up at The Banff Centre. Being a new parent, I entered this year’s festival with a very different outlook on what it means to lead an adventurous lifestyle. As I listened to people’s stories of epic climbs and expeditions, I was curious to know how these “real deal” adventurers felt about parenthood. Did they want to have children? Had they chosen not to? If they did have children, how were they be able to balance life as a mother or father with their adventurous pursuits?
How does a life of adventure without kids compare to a life of adventure with kids?
Here’s the scenario I left you with in Part 2 of this series: Back in August my husband went on his first big trip since we had our daughter – an ascent of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Prior to leaving he told me, “This trip could very well be about more than just climbing Mt. Robson. I’ll see how I feel about being disconnected from my wee family up there.”
I left you wondering how things went, and asked: Would he be able to separate himself from his emotions during the climb? Decide it is just too much for him right now, and give up on climbing big peaks for awhile?
Once I was through the first week of bliss with my daughter, the realities of my new body sunk in. I had spent a number of days in bed recovering from the birth, and otherwise didn’t venture out of the house until about Day 6. On that day, I walked about a block before pain turned me back. Though I was able to walk farther and faster as each day passed, I was discouraged by my reflection in the mirror and my inability to really move. My daughter brought me so much joy, but I felt that my body had betrayed me. I longed to run, to feel my heart pumping, to feel sweat on my back, and my feet hitting the pavement. I longed to feel lightness again. Instead I felt heavy, swollen and slow.
My discouragement went on for the first month until, funny as it sounds, I remembered I had just had a baby.
My conversation with Chris went in a direction I could never have predicted. For weeks I’d been talking to outdoor adventurers of all kinds, none who had ever lost sight of the role that their outdoor passions play in their lives (or at least they hadn’t mentioned it). But though he had enjoyed outdoor activities since he was a kid and truly needed the outdoors to keep a clear mind, Chris went through a stage just prior to having kids when the rat race really took over and his commitment to the outdoors evaporated.
Erica Lineberry didn’t set out to climb 5.11s until the end of her pregnancy. But she surprised even herself when just a few days before giving birth to her son, Canaan, she climbed a clean 5.11, big belly and all.