Submitted by Tanya Koob
How often do you talk to moms who used to climb? Used to hike, used to have big mountain adventures, used to… You can fill in the blank. It could be anything from paddling to backpacking, mountain biking, to skiing. The point is, we women give up a lot when we have kids. We sacrifice everything for the well-being of our children, our families, and for what we think our expected roll in life should be.
It isn’t my goal to judge, preach, or lecture but I think we’re missing something if we have nothing left to live for but our families. I love my son but he will grow up and move out some day. When that day comes, I don’t want to be left trying to remember what I used to enjoy doing on a Saturday afternoon before I had kids. I love being a mom and wife but there has to be more for me. I’m also a vibrant woman who loves dancing – something I make sure I fit into my schedule on a weekly basis. I’m an adventurous woman who loves mountaineering, ski touring trips into the backcountry, and moderate scrambles to the top of my favourite Rocky Mountain summits. I don’t get to enjoy these activities weekly but I do set aside at least two weekends per year so I can run off on a ski or climbing trip with my husband and friends. I also make girls trips a priority several times per year so that I can reconnect with my girlfriends, talk about something other than potty training (hopefully), and build cool stories that we’ll talk about in months to come. Those memories and experiences help get us through the frustrations that come with parenting and the stories get shared over and over when we are together
Last March my husband and I sat down to plan out our summer trips and the first trips we plotted onto the calendar were his mountaineering trips, my big summer climbing trip, and our family backpacking trip. After that, we slotted in the family car camping trips, the long weekends and our summer vacation. Making sure everybody’s interests are represented is a bit of a balancing act but we made sure every member of our family would have rich summer memories from 2012.
My big climbing trip was scheduled for early July as is becoming an annual tradition. We hiked up to the Bow Hut, one of the 30 national huts run by the Alpine Club of Canada. The Bow Hut is located at the edge of the Wapta Icefield in Banff National Park and is a great basecamp for climbs on the nearby peaks. The peaks are generally easy and many can even be ascended on skis in winter. Lacking a lot of technical experience, these climbs are perfect for me. The climbing days are also blessedly short which saved me this year for sure after having had no time to train for the trip. We only stayed at the hut for two nights but this allowed for one climbing day and an ascent of nearby Mt. Gordon. Strong parties could summit and hike out in the same day but no way was I going home after only one night away. I cherish this annual summer trip and the adult time away with my husband.
My annual climbing trip is special to me for a few reasons and I consider myself very blessed to be able to go on these trips. We have a willing grandparent available to babysit for these adventures, I have an amazing husband who guides our adventures (saving us a lot of money!), and we have wonderful friends to share our trips with. It gets more difficult to maintain adult relationships after you have children but we are somehow managing to do so and we don’t take that for granted.
Being able to climb is also a miracle for me after having been told three years ago that I wouldn’t be doing any climbing, dancing, running, skiing, or scrambling again in the future. An infection sustained during my son’s birth lead to the total replacement of my right hip, something that definitely impacts your quality of living when you’re not yet 40 years old. I’ve fought long and I’ve fought hard to have the life I still have today and it’s not without tears in my eyes that I summit mountains today. I take nothing for granted anymore from a stroll with my son to a day backcountry skiing.
My advice to moms everywhere – find something you’re passionate about and live strong. Balance your passions with the love you have for your family. Leave the kids with Dad and take that first weekend away with your girlfriends. Find a gym that has child care and spend an hour a few times a week on yourself. Enjoy your time away guilt-free and watch as your come home rejuvenated, a better mom, a better wife, and better person all around.
For more information on The Alpine Club of Canada and the Bow Hut, visit the ACC’s website at http://www.alpineclubofcanada.ca/index.html
Thank you for the kick in the butt. I HATE it that my climbing gear has gathered dust since my boys were born and my goal to go snowboarding one time this year didn’t happen.
Great post and a lot of wisdom for us moms!
When my daughter was born 22 ys ago…I couldn’t imagine not playing softball…I did give up tournaments…but that was ok….I also never gave up mt. biking….Now that I am 54 and my kids are in college I have added sailing, kayaking, tennis and running on a regular basis…What you do to play defines us and shows our kids that you must always play..
Totally… I haven’t climbed outside, technical rock climbing, in 10 years. Yes, I have done the indoor gymnastics climbing game, but that only reinforces my feeling that I need more training time to climb the level I am (WAS!) acccustomed to climbing!
But, I am breaking out of the rut. I leave for a Choquequirao and MachuPicchu ten day trek next Wednesday! Ripping my life back from the grind!
Great job with this post, Tanya, and congrats on ascending Mt. Gordon. I think you make a good point when you talk about needing to sit down and plan these trips in advance. It is difficult to spontaneously plan a 3-day trip with a kid around, and takes a bit more preparation. By committing to it in advance, you WILL make it happen. I’m glad you have a grandparent around to help as well. Finding childcare can be really tricky for parents, so it’s definitely something to be thankful for! Enjoy all your upcoming trips.