When I was growing up, I remember my Mum sitting out a lot. Often on the side with a book or meeting us after as my Dad and I went off to do the things she considered more scary. And I picked up on this. We used to ski cross country and she would get off for the hills. Actually stop, take her skis off and walk down beside the track. And by hills, I mean gentle slopes!
She just isn’t the type of person to take risks. She is academically minded, intelligent and will happily talk to a room full of people with no nerves at all but show her an incline, or a big slide, or a theme park ride and she will point blank refuse. She also worries about getting hit when there are ball games, doesn’t like getting her hair wet in the pool and would quite frankly prefer to be reading quietly or exploring a nice quiet church a lot of the time!
And that’s ok, we’re all different, the trouble is, I soaked up her fear. I also decided these things weren’t for me. I hated theme park rides, I wouldn’t go on flumes, I never considered myself sporty.
Then I met my husband when I was 19 and he is brave. He is the absolute opposite personality, he’ll try anything once, wants to skydive, loves nothing better then hurtling down a mountain on his bike and dives wrecks for fun. Eek! And gradually, I started to push myself out of my prison of fear and I tried new things. I went on flumes at water parks. And theme park rides. With CBT I conquered a crippling phobia of water and sharks to become a qualified diver myself, (no wrecks though thank you!), and by the end of our travels across South East Asia I actually went looking for sharks.
But I was still held back. I now know that I have anxiety. I’d like to say had, but it still clings stubbornly on, I’m winning though I think! Then my daughter was born, and I forced myself into more situations that I was so uncomfortable with for her. Playgroups where I didn’t know a soul as we had just moved to the area, striking up conversations with strangers to make friends for her. And we kept moving and I’d have to keep starting again. But I did it. A serious bout of postnatal depression knocked me back after my son was born, but I battled back from that and now, now I am determined that I shall be the mother I know I want to be. That I know I can be.
An example of this was a recent skiing holiday. I’ve tried before, had four days lessons and was doing ok but then a 8 year gap, (not including the disastrous attempt when it was too icy to get onto the lift and I had to be dragged in and then got my rucksack hooked on the safety bar!), meant that I was almost back where I started. My husband, of course, is a black run, go pro filming, jumping pro and would love nothing more then us to all go together. I’ve always had excuses to duck out, pregnant, breastfeeding, children too young to leave etc but they are older now. My excuses have run out!
I felt the familiar feeling of panic grip me. I was going to be learning alongside the children, having a refresher to their total beginners and I was properly scared. The lifts scared me, being out of control scared me, everything about it scared me, but I knew that I needed to hide this for my children. My daughter also suffers from anxiety and I knew I needed to be strong for her. And so I did it, I made jokes through my nerves, I was confident, I supported them and do you know what? I smashed it. I struggled at first of course, but it all came back to me and when the inevitable happened and I went down a bit that was too steep for me and I fell off, I was roaring with laughter and the pride I felt when my daughter glided down ending in a perfect stop beside me to check on me was the best feeling ever. I also fell off the lift, and got stuck, like a turtle on it’s back, and people saw and I just laughed and laughed. I have started asking myself, ‘what is the worst that can happen?’ and usually, the worst is not so bad really.
I don’t want to miss out on family time with them. They are clearly their Father’s children and I want them to embrace that. They need me to be with them, to lead by example, to show that these things aren’t scary. I don’t want to be the Mum that sits out. I don’t want to sit at the bottom of the mountain and wait nervously for them to come down, I don’t want to sit on the boat while they go diving without me, I don’t want to miss out on kickabouts in the park with my son because I’m worried the ball will hit me in the face and hurt and I don’t want to sit at the edge of the pool and watch them fly down slides.
I don’t want fear to hold me back, having children means that a lot of the more expensive, active holidays will be a rarity but even when it’s just down to day to day life, I don’t want to be the Mum on the sidelines. Besides, who would take all the photos for my instagram account if I wasn’t there! 😀
**This post was previously published on The Motherload**