An Interview with Beth Rodden - Climber and Mom.
In honor of Mother's Day, which is up-coming, we’d like to share our 2nd exclusive interview with our readers, and we’d like to thank Beth Rodden for sharing some of her amazing insights with us!
Editor: How old were you when did you first start climbing?
Beth Rodden: I was 14 years old. My dad took me to the local climbing gym and I was hooked immediately. I've been doing it ever since! I started climbing professionally when I was about 19 years old, and have been fortunate enough to call it my job ever since.
Editor: How old is Theo?
Beth Rodden: Theo, little boy, is 11 months old (wow, time flies!)
Editor: It sure does! Did you always want children before you became a mom?
Beth Rodden: I always thought I did. But as I got older and my climbing life took center stage, having a kid kept getting pushed to the back burner. I kept saying “after the next trip, after the next climb.” Pretty soon I realized that I would keep saying that until it might be too late. So my husband and I took the leap into the parenthood adventure!
Editor: Have you climbed while pregnant and what was that feeling like for you?
Beth Rodden: I climbed (at a very easy level) until I was about 6 month pregnant. At about that time it just didn't feel good to climb. My ligaments and joints felt loose so I figured it was time to take a break until our little guy arrived!
Editor: Was bouncing back from pregnancy easy or did it take a little time?
Beth Rodden: My postpartum recovery was super rough and long, I think it was a bit abnormal. I’m 11 months postpartum now and still feel as if I’m only about 50% there. I had several bad bouts with mastitis (103 degree fevers, etc.,) diastase recti, as well as a very painful cystocele that is taking quite some time to heal. Slowly but surely I'm getting back to climbing, it's just taken a lot longer than I would have imagined. Luckily, I've got a little boy to keep me busy :)
Editor: Which route/s (and grades) did you do and really enjoy first after having your baby?
Beth Rodden: I have really loved climbing easy routes and boulder problems in Yosemite. My favorite was probably After 6 on the Manure Pile buttress. I did this for the first time when I was about 7 months postpartum. It’s really easy, about 5.6, but as fun as climbing gets! I’ve also been enjoying doing easy boulder problems around the Valley floor, and we just returned from a month in Fontainebleau, France.
Editor: Can you describe the feeling when you topped out? It must have felt exhilarating!
Beth Rodden: Topping out After 6 was awesome, I felt rejuvenated and a tiny bit like a climber again. It’s amazing how the body remembers things, by the top I really felt like I was getting in my groove…but just with a lot of cobwebs :-)
Editor: That's so cool! Climbing is one of those sports that really becomes a part of you emotionally. Did you ever think you’d have to give up climbing due to a mom’s hectic daily schedule?
Beth Rodden: For sure. I questioned whether I would be able to maintain my lifestyle and profession. I’m a professional climber which not only means that I climb a lot, but I also travel for slideshows, events, etc.
I knew that all that would have to change, at least temporarily in the beginning. Randy (my husband) has a full time job, so he wouldn’t be able to travel with me and watch after Theo. Luckily, I’ve been super fortunate with my sponsors to be able to focus on other things (writing, etc.,) while I’ve been recovering and when Theo so little.
My parents have also been a huge help in coming down and watching Theo while I work or focus in getting my body healed up enough to start climbing again. I think patience is a huge part of it, and realizing that life won’t be the same, it’s just how you take that. When I was really sick with mastitis and stuck in bed, I had a hard time accepting it.
But other than my lowest points, I think it’s an incredible life change - to create this little being and watch them grow and flourish, and share with them all the wonders of the mountains.
Editor: How has being a mom changed you as a climber? Are you more intuitive and more emotionally in-tune with how your body reacts to climbing?
Beth Rodden: I’m not sure I’m there yet. Physically the rough recovery from birth has really changed me, just requiring a lot more time and patience than I was anticipating. Otherwise perhaps it’s just made me more efficient because I know I only have a limited amount of climbing time each day.
Editor: When your child reaches the toddler phase, you’ll be doing a lot more running around as your little one begins to explore the world around them. Who are/will be your go-to people who you can trust your toddler with when you go climbing?
Beth Rodden: I think it’s super important to find other families who climb. We just got back from a trip to France and there were 5 or 6 families with kiddos under the age of 2. We were able to run zone defense a lot to allow people to climb.
Plus, I know for me I’m much more able and willing to watch kids now that I’m a parent. Before, I was much more selfish with my time. But now I find I’m more laid back and willing to take turns.
Editor: What advice do you have for young women who love climbing or climb professionally when it comes to having children? Is there a right time, a right age, a right frame of mind so that they have the best advice possible going in?
Beth Rodden: I think it’s different for every person and a very personal decision for each woman and family. I have friends who have had kids in their early 20’s, so by the time they are 40, the kids are out of the house and they can do as they want.
I’ve also had friends who have waited till their early 40’s, so they have their 20’s and 30’s to themselves. I had Theo when I was 33, and honestly at the time if you could have told me that it would have been safe and healthy to have one when I was 45, I probably would have waited because I loved my life.
But, after having Theo, I couldn’t imagine life without him now. And, honestly I sometimes wonder if my body would have recovered easier if I had a child earlier in my life…
Editor: You have goals when it comes to climbing, and your Theo will grow up watching you climb as you take him with you on climbing trips to amazing places. If he takes to climbing, he’ll be learning from the very best. But if he doesn’t show an interest in climbing, how will you handle that?
Beth Rodden: I think that would be totally fine. Obviously I would love to have climbing adventures with Theo in the future, but I’m not going to force it on him at all. I want him to be able to pursue his own passions in life.
Clearly we are exposing him to the outdoor lifestyle, but he is his own person and I want him to focus on what he is excited about, not something his parents force on him.
Editor: Are there any climbing locations in particular that you’d love to show little Theo when he’s a bit older?
Beth Rodden: I think places that require longer plane flights like New Zealand, South Africa, etc. But until then, there is enough of the world to explore! :-)
Editor: What advice would you give to men who don’t climb, whose wives are pro-climbers or just love the climbing life? While their wives climb, how should they handle the role of care-taker? They should be supportive to begin with, of course.
Beth Rodden: I think it probably depends on each person and each couple. I think if it’s a positive thing for everyone, then it’s a good thing.
However, if there is a lot of resentment with one party or the other, then that probably wouldn’t be fun for anyone. I’m lucky enough that Randy is super supportive, so I can take time to go climbing with friends.
Editor: Thank you for your amazing insights and your time. As climbing becomes more mainstream, there will be a lot of women who will become climbers, who have or will have children, and your words will be of great value to them.
I wish you lots of happy, family climbing trips!
Beth Rodden: Thanks so much Vera!!!
Editor: It was totally my pleasure, Beth (and little Theo)!
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook Page: 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
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On the Cover: Beth Rodden
Moms Who Climb -
Managing Motherhood & Keeping the Climbing Spirit Alive
Cover Date: April 23rd, 2015