For months, my husband tried to talk me into it. He said it was something he’s always wanted to do, his dream, his one last wish before we left Switzerland. (PS. I can name at least five other things he’s described as such). I believe he secretly refers to me as “Dream Crusher” because as a rule, I take a lot of convincing. Especially when these self-proclaimed “dreams” involve me facing my biggest fears such as dirty toilets or public speaking or, in this case, heights.
This particular conversation came up the day we accidentally stumbled upon an Adventure Ropes Course in the forest. As luck would have it, we weren’t dressed properly for climbing that day. Climbers frown on ballet flats, so I gratefully stood aside while M gathered information and pamphlets. I planned to conveniently lose said pamphlets as soon as we returned home. Any chance he might convince me, disappeared as I watched an athletic young guy fly by me and zip-line head first into the trunk of a tree. I envisioned a head wound in my future.
It rained for most of the spring and summer this year, and I thought my husband put the idea aside, until a break in the clouds and a visit to the mountains told me otherwise. Somehow he guilted and shamed, or some might say “encouraged” me to give it a try. Armed with an unflattering pair of hiking shoes, a harness, and three kids, we set out for the Seilpark.
I’ll be honest, this is not one of those situations in which I conquered my fear and I feel empowered to write a treatise on facing our fears head on and also, I am woman hear me roar. This is exactly what I thought it would be. It is me, climbing on the baby ropes course with my eight-year-old. Me, in leather gloves and a terrified death-grip, ignoring the shouts of “look at me Mom!” and “Mom, I need help!” Me, snapping at a six-year-old who crowded me in.I ignored the cries of my baby, I think my eggs dried up from fear, and I was literally a few feet off the ground. This was me, sweating hard work and swear words, while my big kids stood below and cheered me on.
I reached the end of the course, which I feel confident was designed by satan, and looked them all in the eye and said “I’m done”. My husband took one look at my face and handed me the camera, while he and the two big kids took off for the high ropes courses some 65 feet above the forest floor. I stood on my footstool of moss and earth and watched my children fly through the trees above me. I watched them skim along the highest branches, flying into the face of fear, forgetting for a time what it feels like to be bound to gravity and dirt. It gave me a glimpse at what my children can be, not because of me, but rather in spite of me.
I have reached the point in parenting, in which I no longer look like the hero. I no longer wear the red cape with a child strapped to my waist, two more clinging to my feet, and the answer to every squabble and fear tucked underneath my arms. I want to say, “Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain, kids.” She’s earth-bound, cape-less, afraid of the great heights you will reach in spite of her. She is already smaller than you.
I know this is the way of things, but I wish my superhero days could last a wee bit longer. I want to reach great heights too, but already my children outdo me. They outshine me, and thank God, they outlive my petty fears for them. The trees clap at the sight of them in flight, and with a flick of my worn out cape, I do too.