If You Give a Loon a Lifejacket


Do one thing every day that scares you.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

    The people who know me best (and love me anyway) know that I like to play it safe.  I have even, from time to time, been called “sensible”, which in my extended family means that I have common sense.  I think.   After I became a mother, I earned a new nickname. The Fun Sucker.  This is usually muttered in disgusted, hushed tones that certain people think I can’t hear.  It usually follows a conversation in which I have determined that something they think would be really, really fun to do is either, a. unsafe, or b. just plain dumb.

    You say you want to ride a roller coaster called The Vomit Comet?  Go out for dinner and eat weird, unidentifiable, slimy things?  Bungee Jump? Hang Glide?  From CLIFFS??  Really?  I’ll pass. You have a “Bucket List” and want to know what’s on mine?  Not a clue.  I don’t like going fast, high places, or pain, and C’mon….let’s be honest. A lot of the items on those Bucket Lists involve at least two of the three items I’ve just listed. 

    I have often wondered if being this cautious is the result of growing up in a small town where everyone knew everyone and living in mortal fear of being caught doing something I wasn’t supposed to do.  Or perhaps, it has to do with being the oldest child and being told (often) that I had to set a good example.  Or maybe, just maybe, it is part of my Scandinavian DNA.  I have a really hard time imagining my grandmother strapped into a parachute, ready to leap from an airplane.  At least, not without a fight.

    When I was growing up, if I wanted to do something because “everybody” else was doing it, the reply was usually, “If (insert Friend’s name here) wanted you to go Uptown to jump in front of a grain truck, would you do that, too?”  I should add here that, for the record, nobody I was friends with ever did that. At least, as far as I know.  I was at HOME.

        Moms are the original Transformers. Our hearts expand in proportion to the number of children we are granted.  Mine’s a double wide. We grow eyes in the backs of our heads and have better hearing than most dogs.  At least, our kids think we do. We convince ourselves that we are essential, irreplaceable, necessary…while the Universe smiles knowingly, sighing at our arrogance. Waiting for what is to come.

   Because these children we would happily stand in front of a hundred grain trucks to protect grow up and start to transform into creatures that resemble adults. They begin making plans to hang glide into their lives, their futures. We stand there at the foot of the cliff from which they are about to jump, terrified and yelling, “Wait! Let me get this net just right! Where’s your HELMET??  Are you out of your MIND??” They jump. And soar. Ready.

Take more risks? Live a little?

I am a Mother.

Loving my children desperately is the riskiest, most terrifying thing I will ever do.

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