Page 37 - SA Mountain Issue 64
P. 37

                                  There are two things in the world that I  nd entirely miraculous.
The  rst is that aeroplanes get off the ground. Considering their size and weight, when I’m in one, I always wonder how it’s possible that we are thousands
of metres above the ground. The second is that we bear and give birth to new humans. Perhaps it is because our culture has separated life and death events so
that they occur in hospitals and places outside of our everyday lives, but it really is extraordinary. Starting with a small cluster of cells, to seeing an arm poke
the side of your belly, holding a precious sweet-smelling new bundle, to seeing
the  rst wobbly steps and words, to our adult selves. New parents are given the opportunity to marvel at the circle of life.
Playing on Wings of desire (26/7b) at lower Silvermine, 3 months post-birth. Photo aleSSandro gelmetti
And as I write this, my son Benjamin has just turned seven months. He is,
quite a lot of the time, a smiley bundle of curious, exploratory energy. He’s starting to be on the move – rolling from his back to his tummy and helicoptering on his mat. My days are often  lled with a mad rush of parenting and work. Parenting is however completely incompatible with rushing. To understand where your child is at, to feed them well and respond to their needs, you need to bring a present and stable energy. And then there’s everything else – cars, houses, work. One of the biggest challenges every day is the switch between calm presence and the go-go-go when you have a moment to get things done.
going to the climbing gym for a two-hour session once a week. Although it was hard to leave the little man, giving myself the time meant that I had renewed energy and presence to bring to our relationship.
However, as a climber, the decision
to have children was a complex one. Many climbers that I know have had children late, and sometimes as late as possible, because the call of the wild wild mountains is mesmerising and unavoidable. In one way or another, be it the dopaminergic rush of conquering a route, the care-free culture of climbing, or our  erce independent selves, we are hooked. And committing to children changes that lifestyle.
as more comfortable than for example hiking, because although you are heavier, there is no impact.
But as life-teaching and enjoyable as the climbing life has been, I wanted a more diverse set of human experiences. And so, the journey began. I was extremely lucky to have an easy and enjoyable pregnancy. There are many discomforts along the way, but exercise and particularly a safe version of climbing made my body strong for the marathon of labour and kept me mentally balanced as well. I top-roped at the climbing gym twice a week throughout my pregnancy. Although I was often tired and sometimes grumpy when I started,
And through this balancing act has been the constant of climbing and running. Although it seems that there’s no time to indulge in outdoor pursuits, making time for what makes you tick as a person is the key to being a good parent. I started by
And in December we did a little road trip. Duncan, Benjamin and I and a few friends went to Montagu. We stayed for
a few nights, followed by a meander down the R62, stopping at Barrydale, Warmwaterberg for little man’s  rst hot spring swim, Outshoorn and Wilderness. We climbed along the way. It was a
little strange being at these old haunts
but with a small person in tow. A familiarity enhanced by a small life ready to see the world. And if he enjoys this lifestyle in future years, I look forward
to experiencing climbing through a completely different lens. The world is same but different now – I’m ready for the ride.
 I always left feeling energised, with a spring in my step. I experienced climbing
8 months pregnant and top-roping at cityrock. Photo duncan Souchon
  the family lounging at the base of Sloth crag, montagu with benji, aged 2 months. Photo daPhne lyell

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