Author’s Note: There is a wonderful adventure blog called lesleycarter.wordpress.com that is accepting outsourced pieces like this one. I would encourage you to check it out, she has marvelous essays viewed by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, and you just might see me there! Much love, V
Christopher, Jump 300+, Mom’s First Tandem 1/1/12
Parenting is just more fun than should be allowed. When I was having kids, the the first half of the actual pregnancy process was wretched. I lost a great deal of weight, was nauseated for sixteen full weeks, all to try and sustain this little bug growing in me no larger than a peanut.
But when I started to show, it got hilarious. Chris and I always loved to find out the sex of our children in utero, and loved to hear the heartbeat each time we went to the doctor. As I got bigger, I developed what I used to call “The Equator”. That is, a line around the circumference of my gigantic belly that I just couldn’t see beyond. The southern hemisphere of my belly grew to be more and more interesting as time went by. My other preschoolers would draw on my shirts, I would spill-prodigiously, often – and be completely unaware of what was going on down there until I took off my clothes at the end of the day. My ‘innie’ became and ‘outie’, and with full frontal, I was truly Aphrodite, a wonder to behold.
Now that my kids are almost adults, it seems like the adventure is restarting. Being a single parent is the epitome of ‘drag’, it very much takes two adults to run a family. Having said that, though, watching these kids develop into adults is almost as much fun as getting them in the first place.
Christopher started skydiving almost two years ago. The story behind it is profound. When his daddy was dying of cancer, we brought the CD of his tandem into the hospital for him to view. Chris, his father, was afraid of heights his whole life. He was also more of a good sport than a risk taker. He started skiing, kept cycling and swimming mainly to keep fit, not out of any sense of exteme adventuring.
I wasn’t sure what Chris would make of his son stepping out of a perfectly good airplane and flying almost three miles to the ground. He watched the video in intensive care, and in his weak voice, turned to me and said “We have to help him pursue this. Help him pursue this.”
What choice did I have?
Chris knew his son was a hopeless adrenaline junkie. Skydiving was a natural for Christopher, as a gymnast he was very aware of his body in space. He’s also a terrain park skier, and a riot to watch on the halfpipe.
Christopher took to it like a bird.
For me, skydiving is the natural next step in this process called ‘grief’. I have been a single mother for about 18 months now, and I think I’m just getting the hang of it. I am an adventure junkie myself, and have had very little patience over the years with the naysayers who cautioned me to slow down after having children. Chris would scoff at that too, we had a lot of expensive baby gear from those years. Why stop skiing, biking, hiking and travelling just because you have a little person, or even a crowd of them (like we did) in tow?
But How About This?
Parenting is also not for the chickenhearted. Nothing, no adventure travel, no new sport, no new venture into the unknown compares with the breath-grabbing, heart-stopping, gut wrenching experience of turning your near adults into the world.
Most of you know that I lost my mother abruptly on January 8th. My two oldest, Christopher and Faith, were riding home from the service in our 2001 Tacoma truck. The internment was a mere mile away from our house, nothing bad could happen in a mile, right? They were sitting innocently on the highway, signal blinking, when a distracted driver rammed into them going forty miles an hour. No ice, no blinding conditions, nothing. Just a blink of an eye, and the potential for lives to be changed forever.
Good parenting takes as much training as a sport, it’s a shame we don’t treat it that way. The best parents I know understand that the future is utterly unknown, all we can do for our kids is better the odds. We have no idea what’s coming toward us in the future, we can prepare somewhat, but really, today is all we get.
I could have racked up an impressive body count that day, but we were lucky. The Tacoma took it like a champ, and absorbed all the force of the impact, so my children didn’t have to.
I ran like the wind from the gravesite, and wrestled past the firefighters who’s job it was to stop me, and ran toward my children. My adult son towered like a guardian against the wind next to my daughter, who blazing femininity shone like a beacon. I wrapped my arms around them both, thankful for another day.