I remember the moment it hit me. My older daughter was about 5 and she was with me attending a PR party I had organized for my job. The party had hundreds of people and was held outside at dusk. There was a band, tons of balloons, lots of food, and wine. Not exactly the perfect place for a five-year old, but not bad either. That is, until she went near the swimming pool.
I was weirdly convinced she’d drown somehow, would just throw herself into the water for no reason at all. And not only was I suddenly scared for her, I also felt an urge to do whatever it took to be there for her myself. To avoid anything that might prevent me from being there for her (and for, later, her three younger siblings) and watch her grow up.
I got sort of boring.
I turned down invitations to do things that once I might have, going jet-skiing or rock-climbing or, well, almost anything fun. I felt myself turning into my mom, getting old. Sedate.
I think there’s a survival mode we tap into when we become parents. We want to not only perpetuate the species but to be there for these amazing little beings we helped into creation. And not only to be there FOR them, but also to be there WITH them.
I envy the parents who don’t curtail their “fun” (but risky) activities. Who include their kids in dirt-bike riding or snowboarding or surfing or horsebackriding. The risk becomes part of the reward. I don’t think all of us become boring the way I did, but we do start thinking about how what we do might one day affect the lives of our kids. Parents give up all sorts of things when they become parents, from the obvious (sleep) to the obscure (reading 19th century poetry, because really, who has the time and anyway Dr. Suess is a wubbulous substitute, at least for awhile). We each create our template of what being a parent looks like.
I’ve decided to change my template a little. I spent years not doing things because it didn’t fit within the template of the mommy-identity I had created. Those semi-risky things are FUN. And I’ve decided to just have fun, that doing so is maybe one of the best ways to be a parent, one of the best models I can give them.
That’s why I jumped out of an airplane the other day.
What about you? Where do you stand on the risk spectrum, and how has being a parent affected that?
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