Facing your fears

Growing up, I spent many weekends on the ski hills with friends, and aside from the always entertaining ride up on the chair lift, my favourite part of the day was going to the chalet to eat and to warm up.

I'm just not cut out for sports, or for the cold. Well, I was a really fast runner in school, and I'm still a great swimmer - so that has to count for something, right?

But skiing... it just wasn't my thing. Truly, the only fun part about skiing for me was the cute outfits and ski goggles and the rides up on the chair lift.

My friends and I would play a game where we'd have to finish singing American Pie on each ride up before we got out. It got to be really stressful, and we'd laugh and sing the entire way up. I was always scared I'd forget to get off and have to go back down again.

Even after a few years of skiing lessons, I was never brave enough to venture off the bunny hills. One day, while skiing with my friends on a new hill, I felt confident. I was doing great!

Halfway down the hill, my friend turned to me and said something she never should have said:

"Loukia! I'm so proud of you! Do you realize you're going down a black diamond hill? I did't want to tell you earlier, because I didn't want to scare you."

Of course, after those words were uttered, I stopped skiing, sat down, and refused to move. I was all of a sudden scared out of my mind. What the heck was I doing skiing down a black diamond hill? I was paralyzed with fear - I simply couldn't ski anymore! I tried going down on my bum, but that didn't work really well, considering I still had my skis on. My friend's boyfriend had to ski beside me, ever so slowly, the rest of the way down, because I was so scared that I wouldn't make it down in one piece.

Living in Canada, weekend ski trips away were common among my friends and I. Once we decided to go tubing in the snow. Let's just say - it's just as scary as it sounds. Instead of going down a hill on skis, you go down in an inner tube. Many people find this winter activity fun, but not I. It was the scariest thing I'd ever done, physically.

It was out of control... the speed in which we were going down that hill, I thought we would surely die. We survived, however. I didn't go down a second time.

A few years ago, I went white water rafting with my sister and her friends. I was naive, as I didn't even think I'd get wet. I had my hair in cute braids, wore my purple bikini and cute shorts on top. I had a little fanny pack around my waist, with snacks and my cigarettes. Our instructor took one look at me, and all but laughed in my face. "I'm not going to get wet, am I?" I asked him. A few minutes later, as our boat hit the water, I realized how dumb I was. We were white water rafting at about a level 3/4 - which was totally insane. I fell out of the boat twice - yes, twice - and I tried so hard to swim back to my boat, but it was impossible, as I was stuck in a current. I was thrown a life preserver, and I managed to make it back on the boat. Completey drenched, of course. So much for my peanut butter sandwich. And my cigarettes.

Later, we took a break, and had a chance to swim in calmer water. It was my first time swimming in a river, and it was pretty cool. Still, it didn't compare to the ocean. I kept thinking of the scene in Stand By Me, where the boys went swimming and then came out covered in leeches. I was conviced that would happen to me, too.

Afterwards, we had a little party with all the other rafters, and 'awards' were given out to people. I received the award for most entertaining rafter. Something to be proud of... or ashamed?

As you can see, I'm not really a big risk taker. My first night in L.A., I was too scared to walk down Sunset Boulevard, thinking I'd get shot. I survived, though, and I survived having a stranger play with my hair on the subway in New York City at 5 a.m, even though it was one of the scariest experiences ever for me.

However, no matter what scary thing I've experienced, or tried, or have lived through - nothing, nothing is as scary as being a mom.

My children went to bed at 5:45 tonight, on our drive home. As any mom knows, a bedtime that early is very scary... very scary indeed. It's going to be 'one of those nights'. One of those nights where as soon I fall asleep at midnight, one - or both - of my children will wake up. And they'll want to go downstairs. Or play. Or something dreadful like that. At a time when all I will want to be doing is sleeping.

Oh, the nights of a mother! Sometimes, there is nothing more scary than the night itself.

Nights when the children wake up, crying from a bad dream, nights when you have to clean up vomit and change the sheets, your child, and yourself, in record time, nights when you can't sleep because you're worrying about your children - now that is scary, on a whole other level.

I've been a mom for over 4 years so far - and I feel fairly confident that I can ski down any black diamond hill now. Because really, the skills it takes to ski is nothing compared to the skills it takes to be a mom!
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Marinka said...

The last time I went skiing was last year and I'm still trying to recover. And that's just from pulling my ski pants on.

Good for you, though. Black diamond girl, you!

Jennifer said...

So true, Loukia! I remember the panic I felt a couple of weeks ago when I came downstairs to my two kids and an empty bottle of Children's Tylenol that they had downed together. Luckily, they each would have had to ingest more than the bottle themselves according to the nice lady at Poison Control, but that initial terror I felt, I can definitely do without!

Brittany at Mommy Words said...

So true! I have been paralyzed with fear before but nothing prepared me for the terror that I have felt sometimes being a mom. Comparing it to skiing is really funny - Sophie wants to take a lesson "out west" and I am PETRIFIED! I love the rafting story too - you are too cute!

Pres. Kathy said...

You are one brave woman for the skiing. Every year we would go with the kids from church and I never went off the bunny slope. You are 100% right - being a mom is terrifying!!! When we first moved to our new house, Niko had just turned 2 and he decided to run out the door and down the neighborhood while I was in the laundry room. When I noticed something was wrong because it was too quiet, I came out and saw the front door a crack open. (it was locked but he figured how to get out!). When I looked out the door I saw nothing because our house sits on a hill. After what seemed forever (only about 3 seconds), I saw him running and turning the block. I just ran - left the door open and with no shoes. It was the scariest feeling ever!!!!! I hope no one feels that way - EVER!

Deb said...

Becoming a mom has made me about a million times braver than I used to be! (But I still refuse to ski. Haha.)

Hopefully your kids are really just THAT wiped out and will stay in bed. Still keeping my fingers crossed!

mama's smitten said...

Crazy how fear can be paralyzing ! At least your tried some of those things!

blueviolet said...

That's true! You never know what's coming with parenthood!

I still can't believe how naive you were about the rafting trip!

Suzanne said...

Funniest post, Lou! I laughed through the whole thing just picturing you. You're such a freak! xo

Anonymous said...

Great post! I'm like, not much of a risk-taker. My husband on the other hand is a free-living as they come. Not sure if we balance each other out or drive each other crazy. Motherhood has never been very scary to me, but I'll tell you, soon I'll be travelling separately from my children and that scares the crap out of me. The thought of something happening to either of us on our separate travels is almost paralyzing. Almost as scary as one of the sleepless nights you mention :-)

CaraBee said...

I have never known fear like I have since my child was born. No one tells you that part when you talk about having kids. Maybe its that fear that makes the wonderful times so much better, though.

Sorry you didn't get any sleep!

TKW said...

What a terrific post! I think those looooong nights with children are absolutely harrowing.

And I LOATHE skiing. I hate the cold, I hate the speed, I hate all of the cumbersome gear, I hate the 2 hour drive up to the ski area. Ugh.

The only thing good about skiing is apres' ski!

Sunday said...

I, too, am one of those women who does not like the feeling of my heart beating so hard it feels like it is going to burst through my rib cage. I have never understood the people who seek out potential life-altering activities like jumping out of an airplane or bungee jumping or touching a spider (EEEEK!). I guess that is why they call them adrenaline junkies.
I am more of a melatonin junkie. I like things calm and cool.

On a side note...I really hope you didn't get a midnight wake up call. Maybe they spared you and slept until 5 am?

Lainey-Paney said...

Ahhhh....skiing. The last time we went, it was Deer Valley in Utah. I didn't get off the bunny-slope.

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

So true! I get visibly stressed when it's bedtime for K. All I want is for him to stay in bed when I put him there, but some nights it's such a battle and I quickly lose all my "me" time!

I had to giggle at your adventures! Most entertaining rafter, huh? So funny!

We're teaching K. to ski now just so he can avoid that whole skiing fear thing early on. I started skiing at 13 (after an awful rope tow experience at age 4) and it was rough to surmount the fear -- not to mention the awkwardness! But now? Black diamonds, no problem. And you're right -- parenting is much scarier!

Alex and Ashley said...

I totally agree with you on the whole scary night thing. When I was a first time mom I dreaded the night. Simple baby tasks during the day turned in to horrible situations after dark!

Alex and Ashley said...

Oh, and to add to my comment from earlier, the guy on the subway sounds so freaky. A guy here was just arrested for hot gluing young girl's and women's hair on our train system. He is in trouble for doing the same thing in Houston too!!

Kat said...

Hahaha!!! Oh this post just made me laugh out loud! You are so cute!

I used to be very brave. Loved skiing and wanted to go sky diving and bungee jumping. Since becoming a mom I can't imagine trying those things. They just seem like one more way of dying and leaving my kids without a mommy.

hoobingfamilyadventures.com said...

So so true. I am no daredevil either, but I am not scared of change and other things that many people are scared of. I never knew such strong emotions of any kind, including fright until I was close to having my daughter, nine months ago. Suddenly everything in the world in conquerable as long as your baby is okay!

Lady Mama said...

I'm laughing because you remind me of me. I'm really not an outdoorsy person, though I like to think I am. I would totally be the one looking forward to the hot chocolate more than the skiing.

And I agree, since becoming a mum, one of the worst, most scary things is having to get up in the middle of the night, when you're already warm and snug and asleep, to deal with who knows what mess and madness. Few things scare me now. Great post!

Krystyn said...

The last time I went skiing, I got a ride down on a snow mobile (my grandma gave me back skiis). But you are right, if we can be a mom, we can totally do all of those other things!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Great comparison - because really, nothing compares. For me it's cross country skiing. No one told me that there would be downhill parts. And flying down a hill on nothing but toothpicks strapped to your feet is pretty terrifying.

Seriously though - I was waiting for a horror story about how you lost your cute bikini top in one of your spills in the river.

john cave osborne said...

loulou -- i agree -- skiing down a black diamond is nothing compared to being a mom (or dad). even if you're terrified, at least on the slopes you are the one in control as you carve your way down the mountain. (or slide down on your bum)

kids take that autonomy and control away from us and become the tail that wags the dog, don't they? and that's pretty scary.

yet, if we're doing our job right, we'll find a way to maintain just enough control to guide them without them even knowing it.

i'm always treated to a wonderful read whenever i stop by. thank you for that! i'll be back again soon! -jco-

OHmommy said...

I think you should be my best friend.

Jessica said...

I love the way you write! Really. Very thought provoking.
I find myself so many times during the day reflecting on the way I was before having children, and the way I am now. Totally different.

The fear and panic I have felt when my children have gotten seriously injured or ill is unlike any fear I have EVER experienced. And I rocked my way through a 7.1 earthquake when I was 12.

Makes you feel like you can pretty much take on anyone and anything in life as a mother- doesn't it?
Love the rafting story- too funny.

Trista said...

As soon as you said your kids fell asleep at 5:45, I started laughing because I know that feeling - OH NO, they'll never sleep tonight!!

I've never been much of a risk-taker physically (no bungee-jumping for me), but having a child has made me that much more cautious, because so much more is at stake. It does make you think, though, that you can handle almost anything because a baby tests your limits so much that if you can handle that, a lot of other things look easy by comparison.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Black diamond still still scary ...even compared to motherhood!!! This is a great post and very true I love your writing and you always make a direct point and connection.

Muthering Heights said...

LOL, that is so true...you could take on the world now!!

Life with Kaishon said...

What a brilliant post! I loved every word. I saw your comment at Muthering Heights tonight and came over to say hi! Your sons are SO cute : ) What sweetness! You are so right. I think parenting gives us MAD skillz : )

Mom2Miles said...

From skiing to rafting to motherhood... you're right, all terrifying!! I like short bouts of skiing & rafting, but that's enough for me. I guess I take my risks in small doses. If you want to talk REAL risks, try skipping naptime!! ;)

Maria @BOREDmommy said...

I've never been skiing, and I probably never will. I'm brave in some situations (especially concerning my little people) just not ones involving possible death.

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practise anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)