We’ve always had a love of the outdoors. Prior to having children, we enjoyed weekends backpacking in the mountains, rock climbing, and traveling cross-country with just a tent and a couple of sleeping bags. Adventure always has been in our blood.
In the early stages of our marriage we had concerns about how having children would impact our love of adventure until we met a couple at a wedding reception.
They were in their early 40s. As we sat with them at the dinner table, we told them about our hopes of having children and our fears of how that might change us. Their advice was some of the best we’ve ever received:
“We have five kids,” said the woman with a shrug and a smile. “Never once did we allow that to change who we were as individuals or as a couple. They’ve never held us back. Our kids have been involved with everything we have always enjoyed doing, and now they also share those passions.”
It was as if a light bulb had been turned on. Why did having children mean that we couldn’t continue to enjoy our love of life? Our first son, Addison, was born the following year. We followed the couple’s advice.
If we wanted to take a hike, he was strapped into the Baby Bjorn and joined us. Eventually, he was big enough to ride in the backpack carrier when we went snowshoeing. We didn’t stop going out to eat even if it meant taking turns walking around with him to keep his mind occupied so he wouldn’t get fussy. Instead of tent camping, we found state park cabins and started him off easy in his Pack ‘n Play. But he came along nonetheless and got to enjoy the sights and sounds of the woods.
There were some times when it was a little more work than we were used to, but we made it the norm to involve Addison in everything we did. And we didn’t have to give up any part of who we were as a couple.
When he was just 10 weeks old we packed the Honda Civic and headed north to Vermont for a week. Some said we were crazy to take a newborn on a trip like that. He braved the whipping winds at the top of Mount Washington, New Hampshire - the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. - when he was less than 3 months old.
The following year we loaded that same Civic and decided to see what western North Dakota had to offer us. It was a place we’d never seen. Addison was 15 months old. We drove over 3,600 miles that summer. And, no, we didn’t have a DVD player or any sort of handheld video games or iPhones for him to play with. We did it the old-school way … books, music, toys, binoculars and a clean window through which he could see the country rolling by.
Now, at the age of 8, Addison has seen tens of thousands of miles across United States and Canada. And every minute of it has been a treasure. Weston, our 3 year old, is well on his way too.
People gawk at us when we tell them we don’t take a DVD player. In this day of vehicles coming standard with dual DVD players, it’s as if we live in another century.
However, we believe that children can be conditioned to appreciate other things in life. That is our goal.
My cousin has a sign hanging in his home that states, “Kids are what ya make ‘em!” Isn’t that the truth!
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