Almost two years ago, I decided that I must not be the only one who sees growth through parenthood. That everyone must have these stories – stories of sweetness or struggle. Stories of starting out in one place, believing so very strongly one certain thing, and then having your world rocked by someone more than half your size.
So I began to search for fellow growers. And before I knew it, I had a series. A collection of stories of some of my favorite writers and bloggers and their sweet moments of growth.
This summer, I’m bringing the series back. From now through September, just about every Thursday will find another mama here sharing her story. I’m so excited to bring this series back. With every story I read and share with you here, I grow a little more too, my perspective changing as I peek through the window into someone else’s world. And it is always so lovely.
Today, I’m thrilled to kickoff Growing Together 2014 with the incredible Kim from Co-Pilot Mom. Every time I head over to Co-Pilot Mom, I walk away refreshed. Kim has the most beautiful way of capturing the sweet and beautiful moments of motherhood and reminding us all that even the time we spend in the trenches is fleeting and you’ve just got to hold on and enjoy every second.
I know you will enjoy her words today.
It was either random coincidence – or word had gotten out.
It was a warm spring day; school was nearly over for the year. I stood chatting with some friends and classmates in a circle outside one of the entrances to our junior high school.
I saw something flying towards me; something had been tossed from the other side of our group. I jumped when the weight of it hit my chest. I was stunned as it bounced off of me and hit the ground.
It was a snake. It laid there, unmoving.
A rubber snake, I thought. Very mature.
“Ha, ha..,” I said. “Very f….”
Before I could finish, the snake coiled up and, in a flurry of S-shaped squiggles, headed to the nearby woods.
If the boys had been hoping for a reaction, I would say that I provided one.
I panicked. I began to scream. I couldn’t catch my breath. I began to cry. I ran aimlessly – just away.
The same thing happened every time I saw a snake in my younger days. Even photos in text books would cause the fear to rise and I would quickly flip past images of exposed fangs and posing cobras. I knew it wasn’t rational, but I just couldn’t get past the fear. My friends and family were sympathetic, but I am not sure they understood.
It is only a little snake, right?
There was a time when there was nothing more terrifying to me. I would rather have spiders crawling on me or swim with great white sharks than be within sight of a snake.
Fight or flight? When snakes are concerned, it was flight all the way.
When I became a mother, my perception of fear changed. Suddenly snakes were not the scariest things I could imagine. Worries big and small filled the spaces of my mind, and I didn’t often think about my phobia – except that I did not want to ever show my children that I was afraid. I know that so much of how they see the world comes from watching my reaction to it.
I hoped that they would not walk in the woods and hear their heart beating in their ears as they scanned the trail and the surrounding area. I hoped they would hear the crunch of leaves under their feet, or the birdsong over their heads instead.
Three summers ago we went camping. David went to get some firewood from the edge of the woods when I heard him say, “Oh, hello there.”
There was no one else around so I knew he had found something.
“There is a little snake over here by our wood,” he called to the boys. “Do you want to come see it?” He looked at me, knowing.
I busied myself with cleaning up the dishes at the picnic table as they greeted our visitor.
When the boys came to tell me about it, I smiled and said, “So cool!”
This time, it did not occur to me to run away. I still didn’t really want to see it, but I smiled and took deep breaths. I showed interest and excitement for them and their discovery. And I loved that they were not afraid.
I am not that little girl on the playground, running aimlessly away from perceived danger. That girl would have wanted to pack up the tent and hurry home to her suburban, snake-free neighbourhood and NEVER return to that snake-infested campground again.
I found strength I didn’t know I had. I think it was a strength born of motherhood – of wanting to give my children the gift of not being needlessly afraid. I realize now that helping them see the wonder in things trumps any fear.
After all, when it comes right down to it – it is just a little snake.
Kim Steele is an early childhood educator turned stay at home mom and writer. She blogs at Co-Pilot Mom about life with her family in Nova Scotia, Canada. A wannabe runner and home cook extraordinaire, Kim is an accomplished car singer – although she brakes for bread and chocolate. She has an affection for Jane Austen, sci-fi and all things geeky, and can lately be found watching too much British TV. Connect with Kim on Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.