I sit cross-legged in the middle of my living room. Two worlds colliding. “Do you want any of this sewing fabric?” My husband asks. “No.” We are cleaning the garage. Getting rid of the old junk and making way for the new junk. Suddenly he turns to me and says, “I feel like I am sifting through a different life.”
Eight years ago this week. Chris and I got married. We met in Boulder, CO and after a bumpy start to our friendship, found we had more in common than we originally thought. The outdoors. We hiked, backpacked, climbed and adventured together. One and a half years into our marriage, we were stumbling home on a sweltering 98 degree day, with a new tag-a-along. Our daughter was born and inadvertently our lives flipped upside down. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom. I love my three kids. They help me see the world in ways I would surely miss if this life was left just for me. But having kids rocked my boat.
My mental picture of motherhood just didn’t jive with the mental picture I had formed of MY life. I thought being a mother involved things like sewing, cooking, play-groups, cute outfits with matching accessories, and most of all being home. (By the way, if these are your passions I think that is great. I have many a blessed friend gifted in these areas and I love watching them create with their hands. It just isn’t me!) Chris and I had decided when we got married that we wanted one parent home with our kids…and being that he is the one who got a degree in something high paying, I was the natural choice. So a stay-at-home mom I would be. And I took my role to heart. I stayed home. I made my own bed linens. I progressed in the culinary arts. I mastered cleaning the shower and showering at the same time.
And slowly I began to die inside. Three kids later, I was talking to an older woman I highly respected and she said, “It just seems like you haven’t figured out who you are yet.” Ah! I wanted to cry. In fact, I did. I got home and exclaimed to my husband, “I know exactly who I AM! I just don’t have any idea how to make it work with being a mom…” Luckily, this is about when we decided things had to change.
So we started climbing again, in a gym at first. We bought the gear needed to get us out the door and took to the trail like a family of ducks…all waddling up the hill. Three years later, we live in Utah now and I finally feel at peace with life. My husband and I founded the Kid Project to share our journey with other outdoor lovers. Having three kids under the age of seven, most of what we do isn’t “epic.” And yet because of them….it all seems “epic.” Despite three months of winter, we still got outside climbing 45 days last year. And probably 30 of those were with the kids. We took them to summit their first mountain (Sunset Peak) last summer and taught them all how to ski this winter. I’ve realized being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you have to stay at home! The thought behind it is being with your kids and not handing them off to someone else.
So who am I? I am just a girl standing at the bottom of some rock wall and wondering, “Can we get up there?” I am inspired by untracked snow. Riveted by jagged peaks. I am a mom. I worry about my kid’s safety. I cried when I let my 6-year-old daughter go to CO for a three day trip with Dad to work and visit friends. I get sick of cleaning and even sicker of a dirty house. I hate taking out the trash. And most the photos of me look like the one below…cause I am usually behind the camera. 🙂
I go to church weekly and love that they have a climbing wall in the lobby. 🙂 I love Oreos. I need concrete goals to motivate me. And I just ran my first 11 mile run…something I thought couldn’t be done. In three weeks I plan on running 13.1 miles.
Most people probably think we are crazy. I’ve had to embrace the fact that my daughters will likely know how to work a camping stove better than a Kitchen Aid. That they will have mastered the art of hot dogs over a fire before learning to make a cake. I love that my son calls camelots “gears” and has to have the biggest one on his harness when climbing so he can be just like Dad. I’ve had to accept that my girls don’t have a clue how to do a cart-wheel but know how to undercling. And I can laugh when my daughter who had never walked a dog before asked if she could “belay the dog.”
We are amazingly normal. We often arrive at the crag grouchy and stressed from a morning of getting the kids out the door. Usually my two-year-old is sporting her favorite tutu under her climbing harness and my son tells us he’ll only climb if he we call him spider-man. My goal this summer? To lead my first trad climb. While I love trad, I just don’t trust my ability to make a solid placement. Chris, the engineer, looks at the rock and his rack and sees load bearing equations, mathematical angles, and can think his way through a good placement. Me…I see colors. “Oh…the purple cam looks good. It is pretty…”
I glance around the living room. Boxes of material, knitting yarn and thread, pictures and craft boxes all tossed on one side. Dusty and discarded. Deuter packs, approach shoes, hydration systems and an assortment of climbing and backpacking gear lining the other half of the room. Indeed it was like looking back on a different life. One I feel free to say just was never me.
I turned back to my husband. “I am just not a seamstress or scapbooker or even a cook, though I cook a lot. We can toss most of it.” (Though these are awesome skills. I’ll probably come looking for you when I tear my favorite pants on some climb this summer and need someone to organize our trip photos.) “In fact, we can get rid of all this. I don’t have time for it. I don’t want to have time for it. I’d rather being doing what we do. I’d rather be climbing or hiking or skiing, or planning our next trip.” Being a mom is about bringing your passions, eccentricities and joys into the world of parenting. Not about dismissing them all for a life of duty.
I am a stay at home mom…but that doesn’t mean I stay at home. 🙂