Adventure Dad: Challenge Begets Challenge

Parenting as Adventure Dad

Most riders were age twenty and up. There were few children. After all, this was a 20-mile or more challenge. Most everyone was on their own and focussed on the scope of the task before them. But there were two exceptions that stood out in my memory. Two dads. One, on the sidelines, said he used to ride and would love to be on this ride. But since he had his kids with him, he couldn’t. Just then, another dad led 3 kids past us, the youngest 9, careening along the single-track downhill on their bikes.

I’ve been pensive about my own fatherhood as Father’s Day approached this year. I just left a dependable salary job for a freelance consulting career. Soon I’ll be wandering across the country with our kids in tow.

I hear it all the time. Other parents who see us rock climb, mountain bike, travel, etc. They hear our stories, look at our pictures, wistful, and say, “I used to do that. But I have kids now.” Listen, I do respect their willingness to sacrifice for their children. To be clear, a parent unwilling to put their children’s wellbeing before their own is a worthless human being in my book.

I’m talking about the life you want. I mean authenticity. Being true to yourself.

We have had to wait for backcountry travel until our youngest is old enough to walk a distance. But we’ve had all our kids camping at 4 months old. Travelling internationally by the time they were 2. Now ages 3 to 8, we climb, bike, and canoe. And we’re moving to a life on the road. Why? Because we crave a more authentic life.

Parents lead by example more than by what we say. Those who give up the life they want for their children teach their children that someday they’ll give up theirs. When I look at my children, I so desperately want them to find the life that they want, not necessarily the one that’s handed to them. So if there’s anything I want to teach them, it’s to achieve their dreams.

It is more difficult, no question.

Half a dozen miles in, that adventure dad on the mountain bike event had two broken down bikes and a family walking back to the trailhead. Rock climbing with children, you end up being belay bitch more than bagging first ascents. You can’t look like a lone woman of mystery in the airport when you’re navigating 3 children and gear for a family of 5 through security. And I can now tell you with conviction that it is scary as hell to create a nomadic lifestyle with 4 other people who depend upon you.

But that’s life! Life is scary, one identity crisis after another, hard work, and a series of battles. Navigating all this to create the life you want is a serious challenge. In spite of the occasional trail magic, not much comes easy in life. For an authentic life, both you and your children have to be brave, work hard, find yourself, and sometimes wage war. Why not let my children see me taking on that challenge for the authentic life we want?
Challenge begets challenge. When your children see you taking the challenge, they will take on the challenge. Their adventure has only begun.

And I am the most fortunate man to have such amazing family along with me on mine.

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