A couple of weeks ago it occurred to me that perhaps motherhood really has changed me profoundly in more ways than one. I think the usual clichés of being less selfish and not sweating the little things are not unique to parenthood and perhaps could result from a number of life changing experiences. However, when out on the tinny a few weeks ago I wondered whether parenthood may have significantly altered my propensity to take risks and seek out adventure.
It was a calm, sunny afternoon, very close to shore on the closed waters of Port Hacking. We ventured into some really shallow water to get a look at a potential camping spot. All of a sudden I started fussing over whether we had checked the tides properly, how much daylight we had etc. I didn’t want to be stranded with a two year old and a dog and have to be rescued by the volunteer coastguard. The reality was we had checked the tides, there was plenty of daylight left and we had in fact purchased a tinny for the very purpose of getting into shallow inaccessible spots. Rewind three years ago and even if we had been cut off by the tide we would have simply dragged the tinny back across the sand, pushed it into the water and put putted home.
I quickly snapped out of it and resumed enjoying the afternoon but it got me thinking about whether becoming a parent does something fundamental to your previous tendency to take risks and look for adventure. Once motherhood is upon us can we continue to participate completely and wholeheartedly in pursuits that require a certain level of risk taking?
I know I will definitely return to competitive sailing in the not too distant future, but the sailing I have done since having a baby has been less frequent and not at the same level as before. Reg and I have agreed that until the kids are older neither of us will do the same blue water (Category 1) ocean race at the same time. Is this rational when we’re probably more likely to be run over by a bus when walking across the road?
I’m optimistic that the answer to the question “can motherhood and adventure coexist?” is a resounding yes. That your sense of adventure and appetite for adrenalin is just sitting dormant until the kids are big enough to take part with you. I believe that the best way to protect your kids from danger is sometimes to give them some cautious exposure to it and equip them with the knowledge and skills to embrace adventure by setting a good example.
I take some inspiration from the likes of tennis player Kim Clijsters, who has discovered her killer instinct after the birth of her first child, mother and daughter duo Cheryl and Nicky Clarke who conquered Everest together, and closer to home some good friends who regularly take their two year old and dog on short coastal passage races in their twenty five foot yacht.
Are you worried that motherhood has stolen your mojo or are you confident it will return when the nest is empty? Perhaps its never left you? Do dad’s and mums feel effected in the same way? What are your thoughts and experiences?