Mères Nature Portrait – Brigitte
News from Brigitte, whom you met in our second episode of Mères nature.
Q: How many kids do you have and what are their age(s)?
A: I have two children: my daughter Maxime is 7 years old, and my son Renaud just turned 5.
Q: Most memorable family vacation/adventure (good or bad) & why?
A: I’ll begin with the slightly less desirable family adventure… After the birth of my first, Maxime, I was eager to get back to my activity, climbing. My boyfriend Bruno and I planned a bouldering road trip in the southern United States. On the way, we climbed in the Niagara Glens, then drove for a couple of days to Obed, Tennessee. It was May and hot in the van with no air conditioning, but we were glad to be on the road and baby Maxime, even at four months, was a good traveller. We planned to go to Little Rock City (TN), Rocktown (GA), Horse Pens 40 (AL), and Boone (NC), we were ambitious and had all the time in the world… However, on the third day in Obed, I was tempted to do some sport climbing (roped up) and during a fall from a long horizontal roof (SO BEAUTIFUL!!!), my foot got stuck in a crack and broke. I can tell you that with a baby, 20 hours away from home, this situation made us live some emotions! At the same time, it was an “eye-opener” to being a parent and wanting to continue our activities as before… Maybe it’s okay to calm down sometimes!
A more positive adventure: When my daughter Maxime was one year old, we went to Portugal for a month. We organized our trip in a simple way: one month in the same apartment in Sintra, a small city full of castles to visit and especially… scattered with several small bouldering sites! It was in February, out of the tourist season, and 40 minutes by train from Lisbon. We explored the boulders, the coastline, the extravagant castles and their stunning gardens and ate Pastel de nata in small cafes. Despite the frequent lack of sleep, the Portuguese atmosphere combined with the climbing will remain in my memory for a long time!
Q: Most proud-mom moment?
A: When I see my children being sensitive to others and their environment. When my son and another boy accidentally run into each other, hearing him ask, “Are you okay?” before continuing his activity. When I see my daughter marvel at every insect, mushroom or flower while hiking. When my daughter reads a story to her brother, the two of them are glued together. I tell myself they are good humans.
Q: Greatest challenge you have accomplished as a mom?
A: I think the biggest challenge is finding your balance. I can’t say it’s accomplished, because balance is always something to be redetermined as the kids grow, change, and life brings us new challenges. But I look at what we’ve accomplished and I say to myself, “so far so good!” More concretely, I would say that I am very proud that my children like to accompany us on our adventures in the wilderness: they are great campers and very cooperative.
Q: Dream family vacation?
A: Somewhere with some climbing, beautiful scenery, and not too many tourists. I would love to go bouldering and hiking near Christchurch, New Zealand. Majorca is also a destination that interests me; a little beach and some climbing are a winning combo!
Q: Your greatest mom superpower?
A: I’d say I’m pretty good at keeping my cool. When something goes wrong (last-minute changes, vacation cancellations, child crisis, accidents, etc.), I go into super-mom mode and navigate the situation without letting the waves of stress wash over me. I have learned to understand my children better and to let them express their emotions, positive or negative, by accompanying them instead of trying to change them. I often tell myself that if they cry more with me, it is because I offer them a safe space to be themselves. They know that my love is unconditional!
Q: Your go-to adventure snacks for you & the kid(s)?
A: I never leave without my bag of mixed nuts (at the very least, almonds and dried cranberries). If we’re going for something that requires more motivation, then I throw in some chocolate chips!
Q: Your ideal day in nature/outdoor adventure?
A: It starts with a good night’s sleep that gets the whole family in shape (we’re in the ideal here!). Then, we go to a bouldering or hiking site as a family, maybe with other keen families. There, we climb, we walk, and we feel welcomed in nature. We marvel at this tree or that rock. As a bonus, at the end of the day, we swim in a lake or a river. The ideal day obviously ends with a simple meal, but one that tastes so much better because we spent the day outside!
Q: Your top 3 MOM-MUST-HAVES for every outdoor outing?
A: I never leave home without sunscreen, good clothing for the weather, and plenty of food!
Q: Best advice for inspired outdoor mommas?
A: Try to readjust your expectations, and remember that everything works out in the end! Here are my two favourite sayings: “No expectations means relaxation” (this is from a climbing friend of mine, and it also works for successful climbing projects!) and “Everything is impermanent” (one of the three characteristics of existence according to Buddhism, and very practical when things aren’t going well!)