When my son Mason was born I was 41 years old. I hadn’t planned on being a mother. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a mother, but my life wasn’t really unfolding in a kid-friendly way. I was an adventure and travel journalist for years and the bouncing around lifestyle wasn’t conducive to kiddos.
The funny thing was I had great relationships with my mother and stepmother, and there was a lot of respect and admiration for them. I loved seeing my sister become a mom to twins and I would take her sons on little dates with Auntie. I actually loved kids. When I was younger I assumed I would become a mother at some point, but as life rolled on I just didn’t see how that would fit into my life as everything unfolded.
Then there it was, I remember Mother’s Day coming just a month before my son was born. Yes, it is a bit of a Hallmark holiday because every day really should be Mother’s Day, but it does exist, so we celebrate it. My pregnant Mother’s Day was spent wondering what my life was going to be like. Was it going to change like everyone kept telling me? Would we stop adventuring like we did? Would a child become all consuming?
Being an outdoor enthusiast and a diehard traveller, I was quietly worried about what this new life with little one would mean. But I didn’t tell anyone these thoughts. I just tucked them away and smiled my way through the final months of pregnancy.
What I soon discovered with motherhood was yes, my life did change, but I was constantly discovering so many things about myself that I never knew and that helped me ease into the changes. I had always been “outdoorsy” but usually had to have an objective. There was a snowboard, surfboard or mountain bike as part of the experience. I always had something I was accomplishing if I was getting out there, whether it was a certain peak I was climbing or discovering a new surf spot. I didn’t just step outside to go out and be in nature.
I also had been a fair weather hiker pre-baby. Living in Portland, OR at the time, there were a lot of options to get out, but not a lot of sun. Mason was the kind of child who liked to be on me and for me to be in constant motion, so we often just stepped outside and walked no matter what the weather was doing. We also often had no destination in mind. The goal was just movement. Then the walks turned to hikes and even runs (he would sleep great in the stroller). I just found movement was such a great way to bond with him and it helped me clear my head and beat any moments of mommy blues that edged in.
I am also a very social being and I had a lot of fear of losing my friends by becoming a parent. I found with motherhood I had a new group of friends. I like people, but creating a whole new social circle can be intimidating, especially with the constant social media pressure of perfect mommyhood. Luckily I found the more I hiked, the more women I met who were like me, all bumbling our way through new motherhood. We found a common bond through babies and hiking. This helped us keep our sanity, find our new rhythm, learn how to parent better and not get lost in parenting.
My son is now almost 8-years-old and Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend. We will most likely celebrate it with family breakfast and then do a hike as we have so many of the past Mother’s Days. Since my son was born I have probably logged at least 2 hikes a week for the past 8 years and some months many more. Motherhood has helped me redefine hiking and adventuring, as some days with a kiddo you can explore for half a day and other days you are lucky if you get half an hour on trail.
Whether you are a mother or not or a hope-to-be mother or a not-sure-if-you-should-be, I wish you all a happy Mother’s Day this year. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also has taught me how to love myself more than anything else I could have ever done in my life. Motherhood has allowed me to step outside on good days and bad. It’s allowed me to see the tiny little things on trail through the eyes of a little person that I so often missed as I was rushing through life as an adult.
A big shout out to all of the Mothers, Grandmothers, Foster Mothers, Stepmothers, Aunties and step-in mothers who are helping raise out future generations of adventure kiddos. This is a day to remind yourself to step outside and take a moment to breath and appreciate yourself.
Shanti Hodges is a hike guide and the owner of Wild Utah Tours near Zion National Park. She is also the founder of Hike it Baby, a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting families outside and on trail with young kids. She lives in La Verkin, UT with her husband and son. She loves introducing people to the outdoors and specializes in helping newbies get on trail and learn to love finding their adventurous side. Shanti is also a brand new ambassador for Lily Trotters and will be contributing Instagram stories and blogs from time to time. You can follow her on instagram.com/hikingmyway.