Some people’s biological alarm clock goes off at a very young age, and they know that they want to be a mom.
Sure, I liked children. I enjoyed spending time with my friend’s children, even babysitting for them when they asked. Oddly enough, a lot of the time I spent with these little ones was outdoors: nature walks, bikes, paddles, days at the beach. But, despite the time I spent with other people’s children, I still didn’t hear the “tick-tock” of my own biological clock.
I’m not sure what changed; suddenly, one day, my husband and I started talking about “maybe” trying over dinner. I was 37, my husband was 38, and neither of us really thought I would get pregnant as quickly as I did. BUT, the alarm on my biological clock went off, and as they say in sex-ed class….all it takes is once and KAPOW, your life is forever changed.
Talk about a life changer!
Forget morning sickness; for two whole months, I had ALL DAY sickness. It was nasty. I lost a lot of weight, and my Dr. even mentioned that I might need to spend a day or two in the hospital to sort things out. Thankfully, that wasn’t necessary. I did gain some weight… all in my boobs!!!! But that is a saggy story for another time.
I have always been active, outdoorsy and into sports, and I wasn’t about to stop because I was pregnant. As a matter of fact, I hiked, biked, downhill skied and camped during both pregnancies, and I must say that camping while pregnant was probably the warmest I have ever been; I was a furnace! There was no need for the sleeping bag. A light blanket during those cool Rocky Mountain evenings was more than sufficient.
By September 2001, I became a first-time mom, and I loved it! So much so that I was wondering why I had waited so long.
My husband and I bought all the outdoor gear: Child pack carrier, Baby Bjorn front carrier, Chariot® with the bike, walking and cross country ski attachments. We were not changing our lifestyle for him. We were including and introducing him to our lifestyle.
Then, twenty months after our first son’s birth, we welcomed our second son to complete our family of four.
I was now 40, and my cheerfully optimistic outlook of “not changing our lifestyle” just because we have children was beginning to fade. What had I done???!!!
Two under the age of two, hmmm, now how do we now include TWO little ones into our lifestyle?
Thankfully, we had the foresight to purchase a double Chariot® when my first son was born. Initially, I had said it was so I could put extra supplies in it: lunch, blankets, diaper bag, but again, subconsciously, it was probably the work of my previously nonexistent biological clock. It knew I wanted another child. Regardless, this double Chariot was a lifesaver! We could still camp and go for easy hikes and walks with both of them tucked snugly into the Chariot.
We had succeeded! We hadn’t made any significant changes to our outdoor lifestyle. Things were working great! But little did I know my boys had other plans.
Larch Valley, September 2003.
This day is firmly carved in my memory: sleep deprived, but still wanting to check off my “to do” list, and ignoring all my husband’s suggestions of doing something less aggressive and closer to home, we set off at 6:30 a.m. from Calgary to get a parking spot at Moraine Lake. Success! It was the middle of September, the larch needles had turned gold, and this was “the weekend” to see them at their peak. This was going to be awesome!
This was also the first time we hiked Larch Valley with our boys, the youngest was four months old, and I carried him in a front carrying snuggly. The oldest had just turned two and was being carried by my husband in a Child Backpack Carrier. He walked, rode, bounced, and had a major meltdown because we couldn’t block the middle of the trail on the switchback to remove him from the carrier. Then there was the hungry baby that I had to breastfeed, diaper change, figure out how to carry a full diaper back down the trail. Oh, and I had to change my top because the diaper didn’t ‘contain the major blowout my youngest had gifted me with. I’m sure this hike would have taken three hours max. However, with two? By the time we made it back to the car we’d been on the trail 6.5 hours…and still had a two hour drive back home!
F**K – I wish I had known how to turn off the alarm on that biological clock!! What was I thinking, two kids 20 months apart? I was 40; most of my friend’s children were already in middle school. Our families lived in two different provinces, and we couldn’t pick up the phone and say, ‘hey, can you spare a few hours to look after your grandsons so we can escape and go for a lovely, adult-paced hike on our own?”
It was not one of our finest moments as a couple either; there were a few under the breath exchanges, and the final, “I told you we took on too much” look was the proverbial straw that broke my back.” I realized I would need to temporarily adjust my lifestyle to accommodate my boys, which also included my husband.
Being a mom and experiencing the trials and tribulations of that day made me question if I was ever going to have “my old life back.” It created a lot of doubt: had I taken on too much, were my expectations too high? Maybe we should wait until the boys were older to do this sort of thing. However, my husband planted a seed that day, which was the first step towards incorporating my love for the outdoors and getting my kids and other families outdoors.
Yes, I had to adjust my lifestyle and change my goals temporarily, yet somehow still find a way to expose and include my boys into my love for the outdoors and keep my sanity, which I always find when I spend any time in nature.
My mom was right. These minor adjustments didn’t last forever, although, at the time, it felt like it would. Nearly eighteen years later, I’m a Professional Hiking Guide, I write family-friendly hiking books, and each step we’ve taken together as a family has led to my company vision, “Getting Families Closer to Nature One Step At A Time®.”
So, this year when my boys wish me a Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 10, I am going to say, “no, thank you,” for setting the alarm off on my biological clock and for coming into my life. They are my inspiration, and they give me the confidence and courage to pursue my dreams, of which they are also a part.
Happy Mothers Day to all of you amazing moms, we wear many hats, but our most important one is Mom.
P.S. This also goes for single dads that have a dual mom/dad role.