2023: A Year for Adventure

Most of you know by now that each year, I pick a theme word and try to implement it in my daily life.

Well, sometime this past fall, I read the book Let Them Be Kids by Jessica Smartt. She discussed a child’s need for adventure, however small, and how this can keep them from seeking bigger, more dangerous, more addictive sorts of adventures. While this isn’t necessarily true across the board, it does seem to have some correlation.

This book is the reason that I let Little Z play with my cookie sheets (don’t worry. I wash them again before I use them) and open the bottom drawer in the kitchen. In some small way, this is an adventure for him. And while I don’t enjoy washing the cookie sheets before and after each use, and I don’t relish picking up that one dish towel Z gets out every. single. day., I do enjoy that he is getting a little rush from doing something that he feels like should be forbidden but isn’t.

It’s like the time I introduced my friend to dumpster diving.

“I’ve always wanted to do something slightly illegal.”

I informed her that dumpster diving, at least if you respect a few cardinal rules, is not illegal. But you would never have guessed that by the way we raced to our car whenever a car drove around the back of the store. The rush of shame at being such a tightwad is easily confused with the rush of guilt, I suppose.

Anyway, I realize Jessica (notice how we’re on a first name basis by now?) wasn’t talking about me having adventures, but the moment she started talking about all the things we could let our kids do, something in me stood up and cheered.

Yes, I thought. That’s what I’ve been craving.

There are times I drive Mr. N nuts. He likes to sit in his easy chair and read the news or watch some sort of (boring) video on batteries or 3D printing or some other such nonsense.

“Can we do something?” I whine ask politely.

I recognize this craving in me from my childhood. Mom would get frustrated with me when I would come home from school each day with this question on my lips: “Are we doing anything tonight?” (part of this had to do with being the last of five kids, by the way. Sometimes I wouldn’t find out about activities until shortly before–simply because Mom couldn’t remember who she had told already.)

While I like to stay home and read intellectual books or (gasp!) binge on Andy Griffith as much as the next person, I also have a built in craving for fun and adventure.

But adventures when you’re a stay-at-home mom don’t seem to happen easily. I admit that I don’t get the same sort of rush at getting the cookie sheets out as Little Z does. Nor do I find it particularly thrilling to turn the printer on and off.

It takes a little more than that to excite me.

Like the time I went grocery shopping–by myself. Aaaaaaand stopped at a thrift store. By myself.

Or the time we went to that one Indian restaurant for the first time and discovered that they were the second best Indian place we had experienced.

Or the times when Little Z and I would make a lap or two around our property on the four wheeler in the summer.

I know.


But in my heart of hearts, ever since I watched a National Parks documentary about six years ago, I’ve wanted to ice climbing. And one day I want to run a 5K (me. Who can barely trot a half mile). And I want to take pottery classes. And I want to learn sign language.

Granted, I know I don’t have time to do all of these things in one year. After all, regular life has to happen in order for these things to be adventures. Diapers must be changed. Naps must be taken. Food must be cooked. Laundry must be done.

I thought about making regular scheduled adventures for myself to sort of flesh this challenge out, but the truth is that adventures are seldom planned–Like the time we were trying to get from Italy to Spain and kept scraping by on our connections by mere minutes. When I think of Italy, I think of that glorious gnocchi at an outdoor café we stumbled upon, about almost being pickpocketed in Pisa, about that harrying return trip, and about that coffee on the final train that we almost couldn’t afford because we’d spent more Euros than we had anticipated.

Yes, if I really want to trot down memory lane, I can remember the long, calm walks down the cobbled streets, the cute little Airbnb with the bed in the loft, and the teeny, tiny espressos. But mostly, I remember the unplanned adventures. And now, as worrisome as it was to spend an entire day trying to be one minute faster to make our connection, that is what I reminisce and laugh about.

No, I don’t think I’ll be able to plan out most of my adventures in 2023. The biggest challenge for me in the coming year will be to willingly step outside my comfort zone when Adventure invites me to.

So here’s to 2023: the year of adventures.


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