12/02/2014 04:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Was Sort of Lost In Our Transition Into Parenthood

Amber Nichols-Buckley

Thoreau said, "I went to the woods to live deliberately," and it is true that the best solace I find as a human is being in nature. My husband and I bonded in our early relationship over being outdoors -- camping, kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing. But, when our daughter was born three years ago, those things stopped (or changed, really). We sort of lost each other in our daughter's immense presence. It was a willing loss, but a loss nonetheless.

Not that we don't try to get our Jane outdoors as much as possible. We hike on the trails in our community. We took her skiing for the first time at age 2. And this past weekend, we took her bouldering at the local state park. I realize that when Jane is at an age where she can handle these kinds of trips a bit better, then our adventures will be far and beyond the ones my husband and I had before she was an incredible part of our lives. Our blood is in her, and it calls to be outside in the same way ours does. I love that about her. I often tell people that Jane is the most beautiful to me when she is standing in expansive spaces (like a field or a forest) gazing around. There is something ethereal about that.


But since her birth, what we are capable of doing on our trips is different. A toddler's attention span is obviously much shorter, so spending hours hiking through the woods is tiresome for her. She dawdles. She has an intense desire to collect things. She's hungry... constantly. She wants a piggy back ride. No, she wants down! There's a tantrum over not being able to find another "dwarf's toe" (which is really just a flesh-colored pebble). We brought the wrong "scavenger hunt" basket! And suddenly, that peace and solace we'd gone to the woods to find is not there. My husband and I will glance at each other, realizing, "Oh sh*t. We are two miles from the car. And we're about to have to carry a 30-pound toddler kicking and screaming to it." So, we find ourselves avoiding these trips if we know she's in a "fussy phase" (which what toddler isn't constantly in that phase?).

He and I want to find that place again. And we know it's coming. We see in Jane everyday that she is working towards becoming a mindful child who is able to reason and reflect. We don't want to rush her toddlerhood. We try to live in each of her moments. But we can't help feeling the need to reach out to each other, to find a trail and breathe in whatever the season offers, to "suck the marrow of life" without being forced to sing "Life is a Highway" from Cars to appease Jane along the way. To find what was sort of lost in this transition into parenthood.