By Janelle Anderson
Janelle Anderson on Only Entertainment. (11 Mile Canyon, CO) Photo by Alton Richardson
Everyone says that having kids changes your life. I will agree that it changes your life, but not in the ways you might think…more on that later. Before actually having a baby, you imagine a sweet little bundle of joy coming into your life, into your adventures, into your everything. You are not going to let this baby stop you from what you love to do or where you love to go. This baby is coming into your life and will become a little mini adventure sidekick that’s psyched to do everything you love. It’s going to be awesome!!
Don’t get me wrong, they do come into YOUR EVERYTHING and IT’S AWESOME but it’s not as seamless as you may have imagined and many times not as awesome as you hoped. And that’s ok.
Fast forward and baby comes!
First day at home with our first son, Lucas. Photo by Grandpa Jakulewicz
You are instantly in love, you are exhausted, your body is unrecognizable, your world is turned upside down and all of a sudden, climbing seems like a distant memory or even a silly endeavor. Trying to go to the grocery store becomes a challenge in itself! Getting dressed, dressing your baby, changing a diaper, packing a diaper bag, feeding baby, changing another diaper, changing another outfit, and so on. It’s a constant adventure full of challenges, stress and everything moves at the speed of a sloth!
What have we done??? What happened to my life???
Reality hits and it hits hard. Everything seems just a little harder and a little more time consuming but you love this little creature with all your heart and would literally do anything for them. You’re torn. You want to sleep. You want your body back. You sometimes want your old life back and then feel guilty for even thinking such a thing. You want to climb but that too, seems like such a low priority. Don’t despair.
Embrace this time of learning. You are learning. Your baby is learning. Your partner is learning. This takes time so slow down and focus on the present. Climbing can wait. Give your family a chance to adjust and your body time to heal. Things will come together and you’ll figure out your new normal – but it requires patience.
Eventually you will venture out to the crag. The time it will take to pack, drive, hike and get to the crag may far outweigh the time you actually spend on the rock. THIS IS OK! We used to call it a successful day of climbing if one of us got on the rock. We continuously reminded ourselves that we got outside, felt the sun, put in the effort and went through the motions to start bringing this baby into our world. It wasn’t always pretty or ideal but we did it, and it laid an important foundation for future (more successful) excursions.
10 things I learned along the way…
1. Everything will feel harder. Packing. Driving. Hiking. Climbing. IT. IS. HARD. but like Leila recently said so beautifully in her blog post, YOU DO HARD THINGS and you can do more hard things. It is 100% worth the effort to get out to the crag no matter how hard or pointless if feels in the moment.
Mike with Lucas realizing his climbing days sure have changed. (Shelf Road) Photo by Janelle Anderson
2. I had to lower climbing expectations and projecting or sending climbs was definitely put on the backburner for a while. You have a new focus who needs you. You do need to find ways to stay active and psyched. Training at home or a gym is way more efficient than always dragging everyone to the crag every time.
3. It’s okay to get in 0, 1 or 2 climbs and the victory was getting out no matter how ugly it was or felt.
4. I quickly realized it was Top Rope Hero Time. I had to acknowledge the crazy emotional pull I had to my baby, like a strong magnet that I couldn’t break. It was hard to leave the ground and muster motivation to climb. It felt weird. I was torn. A top rope provided a quick escape to the ground if my baby needed me. It also provided an opportunity to make climbing less stressful.
5. Be patient with yourself. Focusing on the past and how hard you were climbing before your baby or how easy climbs may have felt before will only bring you down. Beating yourself up over this will make it worse and stir up those crazy hormones you are already dealing with. Baby steps, it took 9 months for your body to morph into a baby-making machine and can take sometimes longer for it to recover. Give yourself a clean slate, build a new “route pyramid,” as Mike would say. It will come back, be patient.
6. It’s ok to cry! You will be an emotional wreck more often than not. This is totally normal and something you should not feel bad about. Hormones are surging and you are exhausted due to lack of sleep. You’ll find yourself crying at the strangest times and things that have never bothered you before will set you off. You are not alone! This is the time to reach out to other moms, girlfriends, your BFF…someone you can cry to and talk to. It can be overwhelming in the moment so reach out to your support group.
7. It takes a village! It became critical to climb with odd numbers, find a very patient friend who can help belay so a parent can watch the baby. At one point, we even hired a babysitter to come climbing with us – it should be much easier to find high school-aged climbers than it was “back in the day.” Climbing with other families can work too but the amount of actual climbing that takes place is comical some days. Honestly, some days felt like total fails. They are not. They are only part of the process.
Our village! (RRG, KY) Photo by Mike Anderson
8. Your plans need to be fluid. Somedays it just won’t work and the fight is not worth it. You, your partner or your baby will have an off day. It’s ok not to climb or to cancel plans. Maybe all you can do is go for a walk around the block and call it a victory. Here’s a good goal, no matter what, no matter how discouraged, PUT YOUR HARNESS ON. Sometimes that’s the hardest part, and it means you’re ready when you get that 10-minute window to jump on a climb.
9. Get creative! 14 years ago, when my first son was born, there were very few parents at the crag and little to no gear for taking a baby outside. We had to get creative but by far my favorite purchase was an awesome baby carrying backpack. You’ll want one which holds lots of gear because you will have tons of crap! They are great for getting to the crag, sleeping at that crag, carrying too much stuff to the crag and as your baby turns into a toddler, they are great for getting stuff done in and around your house! Young kids love to see what you are doing and want to be held, a great kid pack frees up your hands and keeps them involved. We tried all sorts of things to keep these kids occupied and safe!
The backpack was the real-life saver!!
10. Don’t give up! It’s going to be a roller-coaster with highs and lows. But you’re doing it, you are bringing this baby into your world and yes, they will become a mini adventure sidekick who loves the outdoors, plays in the dirt, has the best balance in preschool because of learning to walk at the crag and who knows that getting outside is our way of life!
You will eventually start sending again!! (Janelle on The Gym Arete, Shelf Road) Photo unknown.
Keep at it and know, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! You are building a foundation that your family will grow on and each year the activities you can do as a family will expand. It takes time but it’s totally worth it. YOU GOT THIS!
If you are a new mom or will be soon, remember that CityROCK is full of climber moms who are here for you! We know the struggles, the ups and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly. We are here for you!! I met my best friend and so many other Moms at CityROCK and together we have helped each other through this wild ride of motherhood.
You are never alone!!