Two Phrases that Kill the Adventurous Spirit

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, 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.

When Paul and I were expecting our little girl, people would often remind us of all the changes to come. Just you wait for the sleepless nights. Enjoy your time as a couple now because it’ll be a long time before you have that again. Yada yada yada.

My response? Yeah, we’re looking forward to the changes, thanks! This often stopped people in their tracks. No need to avoid the inevitable; I’m not so naive as that. Of course having a baby would change things, and as I’ve mentioned before, this was one of the primary reasons why Paul and I wanted to start a family. What could be more adventurous than that?!

Sharing a moment with my little girl at Boulder Pass, Banff National Park. Photo Paul Zizka Photography.
Sharing a moment with my little girl at Boulder Pass, Banff National Park. Photo Paul Zizka Photography.

Maya is now eight months old and those infamous three-word phrases keep creeping back into my daily interactions. Total strangers see me walking with my daughter by the river and, though of course well-intentioned, feel obliged to give me a message from the future. Enjoy it because the next thing you know she’ll be graduating from university! Enjoy this stage because once she’s walking your life is over! Seriously.

Why can’t I simply enjoy without the “because…”? Yes, every moment is fleeting. While the days are so long (and sometimes super hard!), the sum of them passes by very quickly. Yes, someday my little girl will be hiking next to me on the trail. I’m sure that will be a welcome relief, but it will also bring its own challenges. I’ll also probably look back with fondness on all the kilometres I clocked with my little baby strapped to my chest or bopping along in the backpack.

The point is, things are always changing. My goal is to eliminate these two phrases from my vocabulary. They kill my adventurous spirit. I don’t want to waste my time thinking about how much harder things will get, how insane my husband and I are to be planning a two-month trip abroad, or about the day when I become an empty-nester. My style is to jump in head-first, figure out the logistics as I go, do my best to make things go smoothly, and simply ENJOY.

Yes, time flies. All the more reason to live in the moment and embrace the adventure.

 (You’ve got my permission to remind me of this post if you ever hear me utter these two phrases.) 🙂

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.

28 thoughts

  1. people who say this to you, are those who don’t have enough balls to live a full and exiting life and CHOOSE to dwell in their own shit… sorry, couldn’t help it.. you rock!

  2. Oh, I hate those prognostications of doom in parenting. It makes me so sad when people can’t enjoy each wonderful stage. The ‘terrible twos” thing is bad enough, but I heard a lot more about how awful it is to parent teenagers. Our teens were a delight from start to finish (not to say there weren’t difficult times). And I’m certain their continued success and happiness in life is due to the fact that they always knew we appreciated and enjoyed them, no matter what “stage” they were in.
    -Amy at

    1. You’ve put it well – the “doom in parenting.” So true, and I think it’s why many outdoor adventurers are really afraid of the idea. If people only knew how amazing it is! I appreciate your wisdom in terms of letting your kids know how much you appreciate them no matter what stage they’re in. Something for me to keep in mind.

  3. So often I think it’s really just a “misery loves company” type of parent that says things like that to you. My response, at least in my head, is always ” F that S!” 🙂

    1. It’s very true. I think as well a lot of people feel they lose their identity and purpose in becoming parents because everything changes so much. So, they end up as martyrs as parents, finding an identity in all the hard stuff. There is so much to be joyful about!

    1. You reminded me of a post I wrote when my daughter was just born. In it, I use this quote: “Like a gift, beautifully wrapped at the foot of your bed each morning, today asks that you open it and enjoy everything inside. Exhaust yourself with all it has to offer!”

  4. I am a empty nester, and I have to agree with Aviets. I loved every stage of my children. I think that with the attitude you have you will too. Your only regret will be it just went to fast.
    We took out kids where ever we wanted to go and today they are very adventuresome adults and I still love spending time with them.
    My only advice is keep doing what you are doing. ;o)

  5. I think it’s simply a matter of priorities for everyone.

    It seems to be the folks that were always on the edge of an adventurous lifestyle that come up with these excuses/reasons. I’m not well versed in life with children but with it being in my near future I’m thinking about it a lot lately.

    When adventure and sports are low on the priority list then they’ll get bumped out quickly when kids come around demanding a lot of your time and energy. If adventure is such a high priority in a life such as yours, Meghan, then it’s going to take a lot of work to bump it completely from your life!

    It’s unfortunate that those people are pushing their personal views onto you so hard especially when it’s such a harmful “adventure is not important” view.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Ross.

      Even as someone who places a high priority on adventure, it’s easy to feel like sometimes it is just too challenging to get out and to keep up that lifestyle. Of course it’s easier to stay home and stick to a routine. I hiked up Mt. Fairview with my baby back in the summer and seriously barely looked at the scenery because I was attending to her all the time, keeping her entertained, comfortable, etc. But, heck, I went up a mountain with my baby! At least I tried! 🙂

      I find it odd how whether I was pregnant or a new parent people were pushing their personal views on me like no other time in my life. Each family unit is so unique, you can’t possibly compare. The key is to do what feels right for you and your family.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree. Two random thoughts that stemmed from this post–one, I have a male coworker whose wife is going to (or has already left) for a 4 month trip to Thailand with their 10 month old daughter. He couldn’t afford to go, from what I understand. No one seems to bat an eye at that–because she is going HOME to visit her family–but yet if someone were to go there for a trip, just to travel, it would somehow be dangerous/crazy/selfish to a lot of people. I thought that was an interesting dichotomy. Also, as you are planning your trip, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on napping. My son is pretty good at napping–in the car seat (eventually), at work, in the Ergo, and at home–but it definitely seems that he sleeps the longest and best at home. Our days out definitely seem to get a little planned around the naps–either out early and home for an long afternoon nap, or nap first, plan a drive around nap time, etc. If the naps are lacking then he has a rougher time by evening. I’m curious how people work with that when traveling a lot–will you have a home base and get a schedule going there? Can your kid nap really easily? I am guessing by now Maya only naps once or twice a day so maybe that is easier to work around… any thoughts or stories of how other people did it would be great to hear.

    1. Hi Dani,

      This is one of the major question marks we have, too. This summer, I often used Maya’s nap times when we were hiking or driving so that we could still get out. It’s been a little while since we saw the trail since winter is arriving here. Travelling will be interesting. She generally naps pretty well in her own crib (not always). She’s not the best napper and is not consistent, so we’re all used to just going with the flow. Maybe by the time we leave she’ll have a more consistent schedule. So, this will all be a big experiment for us, too! Nudge me afterwards to see how it went.

      One thing we are purchasing for the trip is a PeaPod Travel Bed ( I think this will come in handy for sleeping and keeping her out of the sun. She is so used to sleeping on her own now, I can’t imagine any of us getting sleep if we’re sharing a bed. That and she’s very mobile and will probably launch herself off the mattress. 🙂

      If anyone else has suggestions for Dani and me, please comment below!

  7. “Yeah, we’re looking forward to the changes, thanks!”
    OMG! Classic. Perfect.
    Admittedly, with two kids now and the oldest going to school in the first grade, I know well the temptation to want to say “Just wait until…” when I’m chatting with friends who are new parents. I promise you, I bite my lip hard. But know this, Mehgan. Those of us who do slip and utter the pathetic warning of enjoy-it-now say it from a place of desperation and green envy. So, enjoy that, too, while you’re at it 🙂

    1. That’s good perspective, Mark. I have even caught myself wanting to say it to friends whose babies aren’t crawling yet. Things seriously changed around here when Maya learned to move! But, I have no regrets and definitely lived in the moment through all her little phases so far.

  8. Meghan, I think the little phases are why parenting is so rewarding and so hard at the same time! No manuals… (but I keep trying a few of them, hoping that they will help LOL)
    Your daughter is an individual as unique as she can be. That’s how I see my son as well. They all have their challenges, good moments, bad moments. Just like us. I am in the middle of a fantastic phase with Ian and, as you brilliantly described on your article, I want to stay here, in the moment, please. 😉
    Have fun. Enjoy your little Maya and all the adventures your life will bring…

    1. Thanks, Helena. I can definitely understand why these two phrases have come to be. Of course there is some truth to them! But I prefer to try to live in the moment and not think too much down the lane, or compare one phase to another.

      You and your family have been an inspiration to me of how to keep life adventurous and exciting, ESPECIALLY with a child. 🙂

  9. Great thoughts on these all too common phrases. My husband and I live in a converted school bus in the Cascades and we definitely got this from people when we decided to have a child before finding other housing arrangements. We don’t know how long we’ll be in the bus, but what ever happens, we are embracing the adventure of each day.

  10. I really hated when everyone said things like that to me that when I was pregnant. Now that I have a one-year-old, I know how completely true it all is, but I try to make a point not to say such things to pregnant friends because I don’t want to rain on their parade the same way people did to me (but I am totally tempted and have to bite my tongue). Also, since my baby started walking last month, everyone is like OH NO! and WATCH OUT! and YOUR LIFE IS OVER NOW, and you know what I say? I say I LOVE HER WALKING! I honestly don’t get how I couldn’t be thrilled about it. Sure, I sometimes miss her being immobile and not fighting me to change her diaper, but I love watching her grow and explore and toddle around everywhere. Truth be told, that is probably the ONE thing about parenting that I have had ZERO challenges with. Everything else about it is hard, but for me, her walking has been nothing but easy and happy (for both of us).

  11. My youngest is 21 and I can still so relate to this in the sense that with each change and with each moment of passing time, the joy and love and redefining and new experiences remain as amazing as the moment of birth. It’s the greatest of all adventures and I continue to savor and appreciate it wholeheartedly. Change will come no matter what! It’s the nature of the universe. When embraced, it is limitless and full of infinite possibility!

  12. man I have been saying that a lot lately and now I feel terrible. I need to stop. We are going through a rough time with my three year old and I keep saying if you think the twos are bad just wait for the threes! Thanks for writing this and reminding me of keeping positive and enjoying the adventure!!

    1. I’ll be honest, I find it to be a slippery slope too! Like I found things challenging with a newborn because it’s all so new, but with a two year old I’ve been more exhausted than ever. But it is important to stay positive! Some of the best ‘advice’ I ever got was from someone with teenagers who said they were in their best years!

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