I'm Caroline Ciavaldini, a French climber originally from La Réunion Island. I have been climbing for 20 years. I am Pure Climbing, and this is my community story.
When I became a mum, I instantly decided I would still be a climber. Funny enough, nobody ever considered my husband, James Pearson's, introduction into parenthood as something that would impact his climbing. So with my rebellion towards the desperate housewife model, I decided I would apply the same logic as a mum.
For myself, I need to climb - I need the physical expense on an everyday basis. I need the accomplishment of my personal growth, and most of all, I need to be outside. Naturally, I assumed that my baby would nap for hours at the crag, or play peacefully while we climbed. In this idyllic scenario, I simply blanked on reality, though. Babies don't just nap for hours, nor do they sit and play alone endlessly. Even when the baby slept at the crag for 45 precious minutes, James and I always had in mind the countdown. Resting between routes was wasteful; changing shoes at the last minute was using precious time.
Adding to this, your mind was still on the baby - caring about him, wondering if he was okay and happy. Then, of course, there was knowing that in a flash, climbing could be halted if the baby needed you.
If it sounds like we might regret becoming parents, it is far from this! Beyond any joys of climbing, parenting is incredible. I won't even attempt to explain myself, as it's not possible. But, the focus that you spend caring for your baby is such a happy one, even amidst our time climbing it is amazing. Now between routes or boulders, instead of "waiting for the pump to go down," you play. You discover how wonderful a pile of pebbles can be. You watch for a colony of ants that you would have otherwise not spotted. You laugh and explore. And through a baby's eyes, you marvel and become so much more aware of the place climbing has put you in.
None-the-less there was an undeniable sharp transition into parenting from climbing, where one moment the day was mine to climb and train, and the next James and I were learning to adapt. At times it was frustrating to see my climbing limited, but then I came to realize that I cherished the quality of my climbing time over the quantity. I didn't need endless hours at a cliff or boulders, forcing my motivation so I could tick one more. My climbing isn't lost, no, it is quite the opposite. My motivation is endless, I am always excited to climb, and the climbs I choose I savor more than ever. It is like chocolate – chocolate is enjoyable because you only have a little square (or a few) each day. But those few pieces are what makes it delicious.
I want to share this because, at times, it has been frustrating to see my climbing limited. But as I recognized that I was enjoying the quality of my time over the quantity, I came to realize I hadn't lost my climbing at all. I would hope other mums can find that shift in their climbing as well.