Sometimes My Kids Make Me Brave

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 It’s no secret.  Motherhood changes a gal.

“What are we waiting for?” Emily squealed.  “Let’s go in!”

There was an expanse of seaweed between us and the ocean.  First it was crisp and stinky, buzzing with flies, up on the hot, dry part of the beach.  As we got closer to the water, it grew damp, then sodden and squelchy.

Emily didn’t seem to mind it as she dragged me down sand towards sea.

If there is one thing I have always hated it is seaweed.  It is so nasty and slimy and there could be a million things hiding in it that want to slither around or snap at my toes.

But I didn’t have long to muse on my loathing of slimy stuff, because my eye caught something clear and glistening in the sun.  “Oh my gosh!  Look, Emily, it’s a jelly fish!  Eeewww!”

If there is one thing I hate more than seaweed, it is jelly fish.  Disgusting!

“Can I touch it?” Emily immediately asked.

“No, Baby.  It might sting you.”

Truthfully, it was one of those “mostly” harmless jellies that wash up on the beach here, but I’ve heard they can cause some skin irritation, and my daughter does have very sensitive skin, so I preferred she not commune with the jelly.

We walked up the beach.

Well, I walked.  Cautiously.

Emily skipped with the exuberant glee of a puppy, straining on the leash of my arm.

I’ve always been a bit of a neurotic mess.  I’m scared of practically everything, and phobic about some things like snakes, clowns, and crowds, and crowds of snakes and clowns.

But like I said, motherhood changes you.  I’ve found myself shoving aside some of my -er- issues for the sake of my children.

Until I had my first child, Jack, I had a paralyzing fear of the dark.  I was so scared of the dark, that if I woke in the middle of the night with a full bladder, I would lie awake and in discomfort until day break because I was positive Hannibal Lector was lurking behind my shower curtain, just waiting for me to get up and pee so he could “have a friend” for a midnight snack.

See, I told you.  Neurotic as a Siamese cat.

It is like being pregnant and birthing a baby altered the molecular structure of my brain, because after bringing Jack home, there was no fear of the dark.  Not that walking around in the dark is my favorite thing, and not that I don’t still get jumpy, but when you have a little baby crying for you in the middle of the night, you can’t exactly stay frozen in bed for fear of fictional serial killers.

Last summer I also put my fear of slimy stuff aside to pet a shark and sting ray at a local aquarium.  Jack wanted to, but he was a little skittish.  Logically, I know there is nothing unsafe or threatening about these things, and it was in a supervised setting.  I didn’t want Jack to be afraid, or to be deprived of the experience.  So, I stuck a finger into the tank and pet the shark.

Oh my gosh, you guys, it felt awful!!  It was so cold and gross and I hated every second of it!  But I loved that my gesture gave Jack the courage to do the same.  He also found it icky, but at least he made his own informed decision.

Truth be told, Jack is cautious and a bit on the anxious side.  He is tentative about heights, new situations, and squelchy stuff.  Like me.

Emily is much more of a dare devil.  She has always been very physical and energetic, has loved climbing and jumping off of stuff, and has boldly gone forward in situations when Jack would have been slow to warm.  In short, she is rapidly turning all my hair grey and taking minutes a day off my life with her antics.

So, it was really no surprise this girl wanted to prance through the seaweed so she could wade into the water.

We walked down the beach until we found the least seaweedy spot.  Then we did it.  We waded in up to our knees.

I never would have done it if Emily hadn’t been there.

Something about her courage to boldly go, inspired me.

I didn’t love the experience of sticky seaweed swarming around my ankles, but I loved Emily’s delighted laugh, and how her entire body seemed to smile as the gentle surf splashed us.

We waded for a bit and then I went up and sat on our blanket for a few minutes as she ran between me and the water’s edge, throwing balls of muddy sand into the water’s edge.

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