How my children finally cured my fears (about pretty much everything)
Parenting has forced me to do many things I never thought I'd do (and no, I don't just mean the gross stuff).
Most of us spend a lot of time wondering how best to raise children who are happy, have high self-esteem, and confident. Increasingly, I have found that role reversed; it is my children who have pushed me out of my comfort zone, relieved me of my many fears, increased my self-esteem and made me more confident than I ever could have imagined.
How? Well, the honest answer is that - as a mum - I have to save face a lot. I've had to pretend not not to be freaked out, grossed out, and close to passing out. The rather remarkable thing is that years of hiding my nerves, squeamishness, and fear of the unknown has actually pretty much evaporated such feelings and turned me into a completely different person.
I didn't set foot on a rollercoaster until I was in my thirties. I had (ok have) a near morbid-fear of the bloody things. I point blank refused to get on one as a child or teenager and my phobia only increased with age. I imagined every awful possibility when I looked at one. What if I got stuck upside down? What if the safety bar was broken? What if I threw up and then choked? What if I threw up and covered everyone else in vomit? Anyway, you get the picture.
My phobia and I were perfectly at ease with each other but I didn't want my children to miss out on the thrill rides that everyone else seemed to enjoy. A family trip to a theme park eventually left me with only one choice: put on the performance of my life, pretend I wasn't frozen with fear and get on the goddamn rollercoaster.
The kids were delighted, my little adrenaline junkies loved every minute of it. I kept my eyes shut for the entire three minutes (it felt more like three hours of never ending hell) and whimpered to myself while everyone else screamed and whooped. When it was over I smiled and exclaimed how much fun I'd had, while a little tear of relief escaped from the corner of my eye - I was still alive AND my kids hadn't noticed that I'd almost wet myself.
I've had a lot of 'rollercoaster' moments with my children since then. I've abseiled down a cliff face in Dalkey quarry (stomach-churning), I've overcome a fear of swimming in the open sea (what the hell just brushed off my leg?!), I've conquered a teenage terror of canoeing (we had a PE teacher who used to purposely capsize us and make us roll), I've camped in the great outdoors (what if there's a wild animal or serial killer on the prowl?), I've climbed a mountain (what if I get lost or break my leg and have to get helicoptered off?) and I've gotten back in the saddle after a broken bone made me retire/run away almost ten years ago.
I'm now working my way through a bucket list entitled 'Things I'm Terrified Of But Plan To Do With The Kids Anyway', that includes increasingly unnerving family activities. But I figure if my six year old ain't scared, what possible excuse does his mum have?