I think we should have a kid
“I think we should have a kid.”
Those were my husband’s words as we drove to the mountains for a weekend of backcountry skiing. Glancing into the backseat I helplessly tried picturing a baby seat perched between our Golden Retriever and plethora of avalanche gear.
“Grown adults don’t say ‘let’s have a kid,’“ I thought, “They say ‘let’s have a baby.’” Clearly, this misused vocabulary proved we were ill-equipped to be parents and I felt anything but ready for this drastic change. We were weekend warriors, spending our time kiteboarding and skiing, snowboarding and mountain biking with an occasional day of climbing. There were so many things I was just really getting the hang of, like kiting upwind or hitting doubles on my bike and I didn’t feel ready to give that up. The thought of a little being growing inside of me, whom I was solely responsible for, was terrifying. I wasn’t able to picture a baby in our life. Ironically, having a child was also the most beautiful idea I could imagine.
I started picturing myself with little children in tow digging up carrots and looking for earthworms, licking spoons while baking and snuggling close to read stories. I could see dimpled fingers peeking out from swaddling blankets, first time tree climbs and bike rides. Slowly, one by one those dreams became my reality. I fell head over heels in love with each of our three children just as I had expected – but I also fell in love with motherhood itself. Really smelling flowers and trundling through life at a toddler’s pace slowed down my days in the sweetest way. Pouring love and attention into our children proved both natural and rewarding. It became my daily mission to draw out of them the knowledge of their worth, to know that they were fearfully and wonderfully made, and that they each bring something into this world that no one else could.
Motherhood became my avenue to love selflessly and with reckless abandon. I wanted our kids to know their value and to unapologetically be themselves. As artist, adventurer, humanitarian and environmentalist Rachel Pohl recently wrote, ”You are unconditionally worthy, no matter what anyone says (especially that doubting voice in your head). Your worth is not based on how you measure up to anyone, including how you measure up against yourself. Your worth as a human is inherent, and we’re all trying our best.” That is the truth that I had been speaking into my kids’ lives – but it wasn’t the truth I had been living myself.
Their world had enveloped mine so fully, love it as I might, that I forgot about the person I was outside of being a mom. I didn’t even notice until one day I asked our second child, then three, what her life would look like when she grew up.
“I’m going to be a flower farmer, ballet dancer, baker, painter and kitty!” she lisped proudly. Her extensive dream made my heart soar – and it also made me question my own. There was no doubt in my mind that Summer could do all of that – albeit the kitty part would prove tricky. She had so many interests and abilities, and I wanted her to not only chase but also live her dreams. Why then, had all of the other dreams for my life gone mute when I became a mom?
I picked up photography when our children were quite small. I shot weddings, and family photos as a way to make some extra money while raising our children. I loved having a creative outlet and getting to share stories with the images I made but it was not something I felt born to do. Both my husband, Nick and I wanted one of us to stay home with the kids in the early years, and since he worked a lot I stayed at home and worked around his schedule.
By the time our eldest was five years old, we decided to make a big change. Nick left his job to pursue a lifelong dream of firefighting. We were all excited for this new career, and to get to spend more time together as a family. The kids and I were so proud of him, and they often heard us talk about dreams and purpose, taking risks and having faith. I was beyond thrilled for him, but also for our children to see that there isn’t an age or limit on dreams. I had no idea it would awaken in me a readiness to fully pursue mine.
I wanted desperately to strap on my camera bag and fly down mountains on a bike and ski through snow-filled glades, jump in a river with a group of surfers or turn my camera up a frozen waterfall to freeze climbers in motion. The adventures that first brought Nick and I together, the ones that made me feel more alive and connected to God, nature and the people around me were the images I wanted to make. I craved both the outdoors, and the desire to share what’s waiting out there with others. Being an adventurer, like being a parent is very humbling, and you learn that often the most difficult experiences are also the most rewarding. You learn not only that there is beauty in pain, but to look for the beauty in the pain.
It seemed like a daunting task to branch into adventure photography and story writing as a full time mom in my thirties. I didn’t want to give up any part of being a mom, or compromise the simple life our children had. Even more formidable though were the words of Randy Komisar’s author of The Monk and The Riddle: The Education of a Silicone Valley Entrepreneur “and then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” I knew I not only wanted to pursue this path, but do it with my family. I wanted to not just enjoy the adventure, but also let it change us.
We started hitting the road with a loose plan and an open mind. I took photos, and wrote stories - sometimes on our own travels and sometimes of the travels of others. I kept pitching projects and ever so slowly the words and images were showing up for others to see. My goal was to show what life could be if we only got outside. I believe getting outside changes people for the good. Through adventure our kids have learned courage and tenacity, they’ve built confidence and work incredibly as a team. Our children’s lives are richer for it. It doesn’t matter to them if I’m also working on a project, but it does matter that I am able to be the mother that I was created to be and my work is part of that.
We often look at life like a giant pendulum that we are fighting to even out. We call it a work/life balance. We try and put equal weight in the scale between work and parenthood but really all of those parts of us are important, and of inherent value. Instead of fighting for balance, let’s spend our days the way we want to spend our lives - with the people we love, full of gratitude and unapologetically ourselves. That’s what children do and that’s been my greatest lesson in motherhood.
Chelsea is an avid outdoorswoman, with a keen interest in humanity and the natural world. She obtained a bachelor of science degree specializing in biology, kinesiology and psychology, and enjoys all things biking, skiing, running, kiteboarding, climbing, hiking, camping, fishing, and canoeing. She loves inspiring others to get outside by creating compelling images and stories that evoke joy and create a sense of belonging. Follow here at her website HERE.
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