Shredding Our Parenting Image - One Climb At A Time

Red Rocks Open Space, the Quarry
"We are either the coolest parents, or the dumbest parents ever," I declare to my husband, as I'm jiggling the incompetent stroller over tree roots and small boulders, stopping every few seconds to lift it with my foot. 

I'm wearing a climbing harness, a baby carrier sans baby, and a large windbreaker. Clutching a half-frozen Larabar while maintaining my grip on the stroller. Laughing a little in embarrassment. I'm flushed and tired - but in the best way. I just finished my first climb in over a year.

Last Sunday, we decided to get our butts in gear and (attempt) rock climbing. For the first time in a little over a year, my hands and feet were scrabbling on rock and it felt good. Unnerving and difficult and slightly disappointing, but good.

We went to Red Rocks, where there was a light coating of snow on the trails, and everything was a bit wet and icy, and made our way to the Quarry. Also known as: The Worst Place To Take a Stroller.
Oh yes, we were those parents. AdventureDad sporting his Kelty backpack with all of our climbing gear, me pushing the stroller with the baby. My original thought was that most of Red Rocks has wide, easy-to-navigate-a-stroller trails, and I wanted to be able to leave her in something familiar like the carseat so that she would stay warm, calm, and hopefully be able to sleep while we climbed.

Good idea? Nope. Never take a stroller. Just don't. Want to be adventurous? Wear the baby, carry the baby, string up a hammock for the baby...but leave the freaking clumsy stroller in the car, because the only thing it is good for is the sidewalk.
I'm exaggerating here, but seriously. I felt like a dunce pushing and pulling and dragging that thing around. There were narrow paths, tree roots, rocks, and (drumroll) stairs. Which meant that we had to pop out the carseat + baby and then drag/carry the stroller separately.

I'm sure we were a comical sight.

I'm not exactly proud of the fact that the first and only climb I did was a sad low rating. However, I conquered it. And then I climbed it again, because I was mad that it had been so difficult for me the first time.
Obviously just practicing some yoga.
But we planned poorly. We left in the afternoon and climbed on the east-facing side of the rock, so we were cast in shadow from the get-go. This made everything colder. And as it got colder, we of course needed to worry more about the munchkin and ended up trying to belay each other while wearing her on our fronts. Not really an easy (or safe) way to handle things. However, Roxanne held up just fine. She was a bit clingy (probably the cold and unusually long time spent outdoors without being strapped to me). But overall, the trip was successful and amazingly fun.
Any tips for our further forays into climbing with a baby? Hiking with her is easy. Climbing is a bit trickier to figure out. 

I now understand why sometimes parents give up the things they love: doing things with a kid is hard. You move at a snail's pace. You have to pack 10x the amount of stuff than you normally would, because you have to prepare for a million and one scenarios. It takes you forever to get ready, and once you get there, there's a lot of time spent finagling all the stuff you brought into a manageable travel load.

Staying home is a cakewalk in comparison.
This weekend, we decided to make a second attempt. This time we got an earlier start, nixed the stroller, and headed to Garden of the Gods. But we got there too early this time. The day hadn't warmed up enough (it was in the 30s, though the forecast promised a mostly-sunny 50 later in the day). And the approach to the rock we had chosen was covered in snow. We decided that climbing was out.

Crestfallen and frustrated, we hiked around a little, carrying a peacefully sleeping Roxy. We had wasted the morning stressing about and preparing for something that wasn't even going to happen.
As we headed back to the car, more than a little dejected, we saw a small group of people that included a very pregnant woman. Of course she couldn't help but notice that we were carrying a baby around on this cold morning. As we passed them, we heard one of the guys say, "Hey, look at that, you can have a life with a baby."

I was blown away. This morning felt like a massive defeat to us - and yet our being there had given someone else a little hope. That "life after baby" could be more than diapers and sleepless nights. That parents are still people with dreams and goals.

Trying to go climbing? That's not for Roxy. That's for us. We do it to challenge each other. Make memories. Live a life that is startling, like a splash of mountain spring water in the face. To remind ourselves that we are alive. To shred the notion that parents have to fit into a box of preconceived notions.
A huge shout-out to AdventureDad for dealing with my stressed-out morning self, for allowing his climbing passion to be derailed by an emotional hot mess (aka me) and a drooly baby. We love him to death and couldn't be more happy to go on adventures with him - be they successes or utter failures.

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