I'm a Mom. Let me just say that off the bat. Which means I have some bias about this topic. I know the countless hours of hard work that Moms pour into every moment of their kids' lives. The superhuman energy and endless patience it takes to get through a typical day. The monumental planning that goes into making it through a week. I'm also a professional guide. I guide polar expeditions, and sometimes the hardest days on my expeditions feel like a drop in the bucket compared to the all that's required back home to get through an average school day. So here's a short reflection on the importance of Moms in adventure.
Moms are the ultimate and original adventurers and explorers. They never give up. They tirelessly put one foot in front of the next like the boldest mountaineer. Their average level of sleep deprivation is equivalent to having an "alpine start" each and every day, for years.
Moms are the best guides. Every moment of every day, they embody the skills and tactics that the world's best adventure guides take years to hone. They can size up a scene in a flash and manage risks like a pro. They can spin negatives into positives like master weavers. They treat cuts and scrapes as well as broken hearts. They keep everyone fed and hydrated. They fix blisters and things that break. They can shift from plan A to plan B in a heartbeat, even if plan B doesn't yet exist. They make things fun. They build snow walls and forts, and confidence.
Moms are adventurous. The Oxford dictionary defines adventure as "an unusual, exciting or dangerous experience, journey or series of events." That covers the first few months of motherhood, not to mention the rest of it! If the degree of how adventurous a person is can be summed up by how many misadventures they endure, or evade, or outsmart, Moms would rank at the top of any list. They may not feel prepared for every situation but when push comes to shove they show up ready to tackle anything. They are "the bows from which their children, as living arrows, are sent forth." They are the very definition of the word "adventure", described by the great polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen as the feminine spirit that urges mankind forward on the path toward knowledge.
Moms are ubiquitous. They are everywhere. And they don't just care for their own kids. Like the world's greatest explorers they are care-takers of the human experience. And of the planet. The poet Kahil Gibran writes, "Everything in nature bespeaks the mother. The sun is the mother of earth and gives it its nourishment of heart; And this earth is the mother of trees and flowers. It produces them, nurses them, and weans them. The trees and flowers become kind mothers of their great fruits and seeds. And the mother, the prototype of all existence, is the eternal spirit, full of beauty and love.”
Chances are your Mom, no matter who she is/was (because some of us have a Mom who had no biological relation to us), is/was brave, resilient, patient, forgiving, resourceful and adaptable. Maybe not all the time. But certainly more than your awareness allowed you to witness. It's entirely possible that all the qualities that make you an adventurer, an explorer, a seeker of truth and knowledge, beauty and love, stemmed in large part from her.
So for all the Moms out there, whether you are mothering children, adults, or other people in your life; whether you are nurturing a relationship, a garden or the planet- kudos to you. You are doing great things. YOU are a hero. Keep it up. The world needs you now more than ever.
And for everyone else, give a Mom a shout-out this Mother's Day. Whether it's your Mom or someone else's. Acknowledge them as adventurers, guides and explorers - because that's what they are. After all, life is an adventure, and while it doesn't come with a manual, it does come with a Mother.