Not One to Sit on the Sidelines: Melissa Edge

I originally started The Adventures in Parenthood Project because I wanted to investigate why some outdoor adventure seekers have such a hard time transitioning to parenthood, or even making the decision to start a family to begin with. So, I embarked on a series of interviews with outdoor adventurers who had made that transition. Ironically, very few responded that they were concerned about how introducing a child into a mix would affect their lifestyle. Many simply knew they wanted to have children, and that was that. It made me start to wonder if I had made up that whole scenario (about outdoorsy folks being resistant to parenthood) in my head.

Then I interviewed Melissa Edge, a Moab, Utah, based mom and personality behind About a quarter of the way through our chat I asked a question about the nature of her conversation with her husband, Bret, about having children (this is something I ask in all the interviews). Melissa and Bret, an adventure and landscape photographer, were both hardcore outdoor enthusiasts when they met. Though Melissa already participated in some outdoor sports, Bret introduced her to rock climbing and canyoneering. Their love for adventure was what really bonded them within their relationship. Their concern that a child would affect that lifestyle became a solid reason not to enter parenthood at all. They lived for adventure and the freedom to pursue it.

Hiking with Jackson 2 years old to Darwin Falls in Death Valley National Park. Photo courtesy

So, what changed their minds? A few years ago, Melissa had a health scare, and one that almost took away her possibility of having children. She was 34 at the time, and a lightbulb went off. By having motherhood nearly taken away from her, Melissa realized that she did want to have a child, and that this was something she couldn’t compromise on. After some discussion, which included asking the perspectives of some of their friends who were parents, Melissa and Bret decided that it was time to make the transition to parenthood.

And they are so glad they did. It was clear talking to Melissa that she is one proud mama of three-and-a-half year old Jackson, whom she called “a stud on the trail.” Jackson goes with his parents on all of their outdoor adventures (except for mountain biking, since he’s too small). He was hiking by six weeks and camping by three months, and hasn’t stopped since. “We thoroughly enjoy spending time with him outdoors and showing him what this lifestyle is all about,” said Melissa. “And at 3 years old, he comes home from preschool asking to go camping and hiking.” This little tyke has even joined them on the summit of a 14,000-foot peak (with many more to come, no doubt!).

The summit of Handies Peak in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Jackson’s first 14,000-er (14,048ft) at 2 years, 4 months. Photo courtesy

Melissa started back in 2009 because she wanted people to know that it is possible to get into the outdoors with your kids. She’d faced enough criticism and comments from people who basically told her she’d have to give up on her passions when Jackson came along. Like many of the outdoor adventurers I have interviewed, Melissa has proven that pursing outdoor adventures with kids can be challenging, and takes extra planning, but is totally possible.

“Your life is what you make of it,” Melissa said. “If you choose to sit on the sidelines after you have this child and not participate…then that’s the choice that you make.” 

 Thanks for the interview, Melissa!

Do you share the same concern as Melissa and Bret? How much does your lifestyle play a role in determining whether or not you’d have a family?

Author: Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Meghan has written several books, as well as produced content for films, anthologies, blogs and some of North America’s top outdoor, fitness and adventure publications. She has a forthcoming travel memoir (Fall 2022), to published by Rocky Mountain Books.

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