Dear Harold and Maude,
Those aren’t your names—don’t worry. I promise we will have better ones picked out by the time you make your debut in June. You’ve been living and growing in my belly for 18 weeks, I just found out that you’re a boy and a girl, and it seemed the time to write you your first letter. Yes, it’s one letter for both of you. You might as well get used to sharing from the start.
I have not been waiting with eager anticipation to be a mother. I’m 39 and I’ve been focused on doing everything else instead. 2015 had me ringing in the new year on top of Patagonia’s Fitz Roy, leading a 38-person symposium about how to disrupt traditional conservation, spending two months working three back-to-back stints in Ethiopia and Mozambique, climbing the hardest ice of my life in at home in New Hampshire, writing a proposal for my third book, taking seven weeks to climb splitter alpine granite in Chamonix with your dad, and finishing a film that has been four years in the making. I’ve been busy. I like being busy.
Theoretically, it’s been possible for me to become a mom for decades. That’s a long time to keep choosing to pursue things other than what most people dub “the greatest role you can have in life.” For me, I’ve been on the fence about making the decision to become a parent. Not because of you. Because of me.
For most of my career, people have told me that if I were to have children then I would have to change my life, stop travelling, modify my climbing, and basically give up my ability to create and expand. Each time someone has told me any of that, I have wanted to punch them. I haven’t (and you shouldn’t do that–ever). Instead, I have chosen to stand taller and stronger against that limiting belief. Or I did in theory. And now it’s time for reality. In fact the only way your dad and I could get to place of trying to have a baby was to tell ourselves that it was possible for us to become parents and not lose ourselves in the process. Then again, that’s likely what every parent says to themselves before they step off the high dive.
But you are not “a” baby. There are twenty toes, four lungs, and two hearts growing inside of me and I am the first one laughing about the irony of it all.
So here is what I’d like to see happen:
You are entering a bold and beautiful world. I have spent my time in it hurtling my beliefs, passions, and curiosity up against each other and have made it my career. It has not always worked. Sometimes I feel lonesome for a more normal way. But when it does work it catches my breath and grounds my soul in a way that makes me know I belong in the universe.
You two are not the “normal way.”
When I reflect on the most important, striking, heart-in-stomach things I have ever done, they have always been the result of doing what people would call “too much.” And as you grow inside of me, I know you will be the pinnacle of what I have done and will do. I know you’re like your momma because already I can tell that your Team Twin motto is, “More.” And so, in all of that, we fit right in together.
I’m not saying I have this figured out. You can’t get to be my age and have seen your sister, cousins, strangers, and friends go through parenthood and think anyone ever has it figured out. While we may never figure it out, somehow we’re going into this bold and beautiful world together. I can’t wait to see what more looks like, with you.