“If you want to do something big, something daring and grand and huge, then don’t automatically shrug and assume that you’re too young, too old, too weak, too busy, too poor, too frazzled, or too small. Learn, persevere, sweat. Take the time to figure out how to do it correctly, then go to it with a giant spirit of adventure and enjoy the climb.”
Patricia Ellis Herr, Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure
I wasn’t raised in a particularly outdoorsy family. Sure, we went camping every once in a while and hiked on occasion, but outdoor activities weren’t really a staple growing up. Even as a young adult, I busied myself with work and school and building a life. In my early years of marriage, my husband and I went on a few camping trips and visited a number of national parks together, but those kinds of activities were seen as largely out of reach, reserved only for vacation times and not for frequent pursuit.
Looking back, sparks of interest were certainly there, but I wasn’t ready to intentionally kindle them.
It really wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that I wanted to pursue more hobbies out of doors. I dreamed of hiking, backpacking, and climbing, and promised myself I’d chase these dreams when the timing was right.
Now, you wouldn’t think that the right timing would come when your life is seemingly turned upside down by motherhood. Or when your family is split up for a year because of work obligations. Or when you find out you’re pregnant with your second wild boy when you are already completely overrun (in the best way) by the first.
By all accounts, I really shouldn’t be on fire to pursue anything new, different, or challenging. In one way or another, everything is new, different, or challenging at this point in my life!
It’s because of these major life changes in the last few years that the sparks of interest in exploring the great outdoors have ignited into something unquenchable. It’s because of my kids I want to be my best self – not just for them, but for myself too. I want to set an example to dream big and then run like hell after that dream.
Unlike many other outdoor enthusiasts, whose quest is to figure out a way to blend their roles of being a parent with being an explorer and an athlete, I’m starting at the very beginning with two kids in tow. It’s a learning curve for all of us, myself and my kids. We’re in this together.
I learn a little bit every day, through my own trial and error and through others’ experiences, shared in person, in books, and across the internet. I research, I show up, and I push myself. Some days are triumphant, other days are not. Some days I feel like I’m right where I need to be, other days I feel like I’ve lost my way.
Just before I convince myself I’m in too far over my head, it hits me: I can’t be the only person with big dreams. I can’t be the only woman who wants to do something new, something different, something challenging. And I can’t possibly be the only mother who has to figure out a balance between raising little ones and nurturing her own well being.
What I share here is my own journey: how I pursue my own dreams with young children in tow. Although my ambitions at this point in time revolve around exploring the outdoors, my hope is to communicate the ups and downs that come along with daring to follow your passion, regardless of what that might be.
So here I sit, up an hour or two before my son wakes (with any luck), adding new hikes to my list and researching how to dress for cold weather activities outside. Soon he’ll start to stir and it will be time to close my books and put away my laptop, pour myself another mug of coffee, and get ready to make some Mickey Mouse pancakes with my enthusiastic three year old.
I wouldn’t do it any other way.