A few steps across that turf covered balance beam and I felt confident. I knew in my head that I had made a commitment and no matter how, I would cross that fallen tree trunk and prove to Karl, the kids, and myself that victory is for those who face their fears. While it wasn’t a pretty site to see me slowly put one foot in front of the other, I managed to make headway over the ravine and without looking down at the brook beneath, knew that I was almost to the other side.
When I reached the last eighth of the way, the bark had, in what I imagine was adolescent angst, split off from its parent trunk and remained only loosely attached. When I put my right foot down in that particular spot, the sole of my tennis shoes slipped off the bark and caused me immediate panic and instability. I gingerly found a spot for my foot to rest more securely and paused long enough to calculate my next move. I only had a few feet left to traverse before I would be on solid ground, but the question was how would I get there? I could have probably run, slipped and nearly slid to the other side. But instead, I chose to hunker down and get on all fours, grip the trunk with feet, knees and hands in order to guarantee my safety. As if I was being hunted by a bear and couldn’t make the slightest motion or sound I slowly bent over, crouched down and dug my fingers into the soft green moss for a grip that would ensure my safety. Behind me I heard cackles and giggles from Lucy and Peter who were extremely amused to see their grown mother act as if she were being hunted by a bear, knowing full well that she was not. Later, they would mimic my overly cautious stance by bending over, and moving to the ground at the pace of a chameleon. Once I was on all fours and felt more secure, I shuffled the rest of the way, broke through a large spider web and found myself solidly on the other side, jumping up and down with exquisite self-amusement, proud of myself and full of that terrifyingly awesome feeling in my belly.
I ran down the other side of the ravine, crossed the water and hiked backed up to where Karl and the kids were waiting. Lucy and Peter were jazzed and ready to go themselves. And while I had just accomplished what I felt to be a grand fete, I wasn’t so sure I wanted them to do the same. I looked over and saw Karl’s cautious face and asked him to step aside and have a conversation with me. He and I went back and forth over what would be best for the kids. He pointed out just how scared I had been and the slow motion hunkering down that happened at the end proved that it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I agreed, the task was hard for me, sure, but I still did it. I actually thought that maybe the kids should just try, get scared, return and thus elevate my status as a brave and daring mother goddess; one whom they should respect and listen to more often.
Karl and I were torn. Of course, we would never want any harm to come to our children. But I also don’t want to spare them some of the exhilaration and excitement that can come when you don’t let your fears silence, petrify and numb you like they have often done to me. So, we brainstormed some more (actually, argued quite a bit) until we stumbled on the idea that Karl is so tall that he could walk underneath the trunk and be there to catch them if they were to fall. While he didn’t want to get muddy and wet, he would rather be safe than sorry, so with that, he agreed to let them do it. Lucy and Peter heard the news and were thrilled, fighting over who got to go first.
And wouldn’t you know it, something that proved awkward and difficult for me, was like a game of hopscotch to them. They both took to the trunk and walked straight across never once stopping, looking down or back or cowering in their fear. They traversed that thing as if it were a grocery store parking lot curb. It was fascinating, humbling, exhilarating, and awesome to watch. Full commitment. Full success. And what was more…their sincerest pleasure was poking fun of me the rest of the day for making it look so difficult.