Submitted by Meghan J. Ward (editor’s note: Meghan is a friend of one of our other bloggers from north of the border, Tanya Koob. Meghan will be submitting a story from time to time on her transition to motherhood and other outdoor excitements.)Living in the Canadian Rockies, where outdoor enthusiasts abound, I often find myself at the centre of discussions about how one can pursue adventures with small children. Many outdoor enthusiasts struggle to brave the changes that would result from starting a family, fearing it would negatively affect his or her adventure-filled lifestyle.
Being one such adventurer, I was eager to dig into the topic. So, back in May 2012 I started The Adventures in Parenthood Project with the goal of exploring the transition of outdoor adventurers to parenthood. My intention with the project was to cover the spectrum of adventurers – from professional risk-takers to the people who quietly go about their outdoor activities – and set off to research the topic through interviews and survey questions.
Then in July of last year, two solid lines on a piece of plastic told my husband and me that we would be joining these outdoor adventurers in the transition to parenthood, adding a whole new layer – a memoir component – to the project. In the few years before this news we had been hiking and climbing throughout the Canadian Rockies, backpacking in the Caribbean, ski touring in the remote wilderness of Baffin Island, and trekking in Nepal. We now faced the greatest adventure of our lives, and for me it started with the pregnancy itself.
As it turned out, I still managed to hike and ski a fair amount over the months that followed, but these were pretty tame trips. I quickly learned that even if my body was holding up well, I couldn’t ignore that little voice in my head that acknowledged things were different. This wasn’t me. I was fully aware of how much my body could normally handle, and how apprehensive I was now feeling out on the trail. Even to this day, 38 weeks later, I have struggled with feeling like I’ve lost touch with that part of myself. I miss her – that woman who felt so comfortable pushing her body through the wilderness. But I know she’ll return, and most likely with even more gusto and motivation than ever before.
Though I have deeply missed the rush of adrenaline that washes over me in the outdoors, I have taken advantage of these more sedentary times to cultivate a deeper sense of compassion and gentleness with myself, to learn how to just ‘be’, and prepare for motherhood. My husband and I talk excitedly about the places we’ll take our child and how we’ll be able to rekindle our own love for the outdoors and the mountains here in Banff by returning to places with a little person in tow.
“The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of the parents.” – Carl Jung
This quote has many meanings, but for my husband and me it means that we must continue to live our lives as passionately as we can, and to do what we need to do to care for our child while keeping that in balance with the things that make us most excited about life. We will ultimately be better parents if we do. The real adventure in parenthood is figuring out just how to make that happen.
Post adapted from The Adventures in Parenthood Project.