This is a continuation of a series of blogs about our recent expedition to Antarctica. We were recently contacted by Go Outside Brazil to be part of an article about couples who do adventures together. We’re not sure how much of the information that we sent them will make it to the article, so we thought we’d share it here in a series of blog posts.
Which is easier: Going on an expedition or raising a child? What does your son think about your expedition?
Adventure travel and raising a child each have unique challenges and rewards. Some of our adventures are like a microcosm of life – only the joys and the challenges are compressed into one intense experience. Raising a child is an adventure lasting a lifetime.
Although we went to the South Pole without our son, it provided insight into how to be better parents. Our South Pole trip taught me how to be more patient and let go of trying to force things that are out of my control. I learned to talk more deeply with my son about our values, our motivations, and our love for him. We became closer as a family because of our expedition.
Part of raising our son is taking him on adventures, and the shared experience helps to deepen our parent-child bond. Starting when Keenan was only one year old, he cheered us on at our 50-mile and 100-mile ultrarunning races, playing in the dirt while waiting for us to run through aid stations, supporting mom or dad out on the trail. When Keenan was four years old, we began taking yearly kayaking trips where he sat in the front of our double kayak and paddled when he could and enjoying the ride the rest of the time. Just after Keenan turned seven, we traveled to Tanzania and biked through native villages around Mt. Kilimanjaro, Keenan riding on a tandem-style bike. When he was nine years old, we traveled to Switzerland and France where we hiked through the Alps and then Marty and I ran in the UTMB (Ultra Trail Du Monte Blanc) while Keenan cheered us on with his aunt and uncle. In his ninth year, we returned to Tanzania and biked from the base of Kilimanjaro through remote villages all the way to the coast. Then we climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Keenan made it to 17,000 before nausea turned him back only 2000 feet from the summit. By the time he was almost twelve, a few months before departing to Antarctica, we toured Japan and climbed Mt Fuji as a family.
Before our South Pole expedition, we agonized over leaving Keenan for two months, the single hardest decision of the entire trip. After returning from Antarctica, our son Keenan told us, “I can see that you have to work hard to meet a goal. You need to have a positive mindset, because if you don’t, you will have a hard time and you will probably be unhappy. I am inspired by what you did and think that I want to do something big like that some day. I am very proud of you and what you accomplished. Now I am very happy that you are home.” Back with Keenan, we can see the positive impact that our expedition had on him on many levels.