476 days of loving more
We took our boys to an amusement park this past weekend. Family adventures always bring mixed emotions for me. On one hand, I feel excitement about getting out of the house together and doing something fun. On the other hand, oftentimes the larger hand, I feel nervousness about being out of the house together and having to keep an eye on everyone! Watching four kids six and a half and under in a crowded, public place is out right exhausting and hard. My neck doesn’t stop turning looking for four identical shirts and my head doesn’t stop counting 1-2-3-4-check. Certain family adventures definitely scare me: the park, the pool, the mall. After I have conquered any of those adventures I feel such pride, such satisfaction, such “oh-my-gosh-we-did-it-yeah-for-us-now-lets-take-a-nap!”
Luckily this past Sunday’s adventure my parents came along so the kid to adult ratio was 1:1 making it a less scary experience and way more satisfying. I actually got to fully enjoy watching my children scream with glee on their first “roller coaster” ride’ I actually got to fully enjoy hearing them laugh as they jumped in the bounce house; and I actually got to fully enjoy seeing them smile as they “won” “Wac-A-Mole.” They loved every ride, every game, and every food treat they got spoiled with that day. Of course darling #4 was less than pleased that he had to be an observer for the most part, but he found joy in snuggling with his Papa Smurf he “won” at Skeeball.
The highlight of the day totally caught me off guard. There was this one ride where you lie on your stomach and get strapped in. You then spin around and around, up and down. Looking at it I just wanted to throw up. #1 and #2 just got over their fear of rides this very Sunday so the thought of them wanting to try this shocked me. The fact that daddy and grandpa were willing to do it with them shocked me even more!!!
They all strapped in and I prepared for the worst – to be cleaning up vomit and changing outfits. Thankfully, that was so not the case. Everyone, well except for grandpa, smiled and laughed the entire time. They had a blast. When the ride ended the boys went over to help grandpa out. He took one look at them and said: “Boys, that was terrifying!”
“No it wasn’t! It was sooo much fun! Let’s do it again!” Screamed #1.
“Grandpa it was great! Scardy pants!” Yelled #2.
And then #1 ran over to me laughing “Mommy, mommy, that was great but grandpa was, um, um, Grandpa what were you?”
“Right, terrified. Grandpa was terrified. But I wasn’t. I was so brave. Cool, huh, mom?” #1 said. He was so proud of himself. So was I. So was I.
Later in the car #1 wanted to tell the story again…how Grandpa was terrified, but that he wasn’t.
“Remember mommy, I was brave and what was Grandpa???” and then a big pause. “Right, he was satisfied.”
“You mean terrified,” I gently replied.
We had this same exchange four or five more times that day. #1 kept saying Grandpa was “satisfied” and I kept saying that he meant “terrified.”
After the last exchange, a smile crept over my face. This Freudian slip of my son’s, saying satisfied instead of terrified, was the new highlight of my day. It made me think of all the times I have been terrified, only to end up feeling immensely satisfied because I faced my “fear/discomfort” and managed it.
I was terrified to get up on a stage and be a live auctioneer for the first time… and now I am more than satisfied with how much I raised for the American Cancer Society.
I was terrified to move from New England to North Carolina where we had no family or friends…and now I look back and am more than satisfied that I learned to adjust to an entirely new place.
I was terrified to learn that we were pregnant with #3 when #2 was just seven months old…and now I am more than satisfied that they are so close in age.
And of course, I was TERRIFIED to start The Orange Rhino Challenge. Terrified. Terrified that I would fail. Terrified at how hard it would be. Terrified that I wouldn’t be able to keep up writing. Terrified at what people would think about my “yelling truth.” Terrified that even though I was starting now, that I was already too late to change the so called damage I had done to the relationship with my boys.
Terrified. Plain terrified.
But I did it. I took on a fear; I took on an uncomfortable situation, and now I feel more than satisfied. I feel proud, joyful, and grateful. You see, I am generally a risk adverse person. I avoid situations that I think I won’t like, but really want to engage in. I avoid situations where I think I won’t succeed. I avoid situations where I might succeed, or even like, but just don’t want to take the small risk that I could be wrong. And I avoid situations that scare me.
Yes, some situations I avoid are legitimate. Poisonous snakes for one. Dark alleys for two. But avoiding situations because I fear I will fail, or won’t be liked, or won’t do well enough, is that really legitimate? Does that bring me satisfaction or regret? Is that really how I want to live my life? (Yes, those are rhetorical questions….)
There are so many situations I have avoided to date because of fear; so many situations that I look back on and say, “shoot, I wish I had just found the guts and gave it a try, or I wish I found the guts to not quit.” This challenge is one of the big times in my life that I have faced major discomfort and at the same time major desire to face said discomfort and actually not walked away. What if I had walked away? What if I had avoided my yelling problem because of my fear of failing, because of all my fears associated with starting?
Then I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be calling myself an Orange Rhino.
Gosh am I glad I didn’t walk away from fear this time. Gosh I am so glad that I can say, “I am glad that I tried.”
Yes, my journey to yell less has been terrifying at times. Why I am sharing so much with the world? How do I handle this unknown parenting situation without losing it? I have succeeded, but how do I ensure I keep all the positive change going? And yes, there have been and will continue to be terrifying moments. But more so, much more so, it has been a satisfying experience to say the least. In fact, the extent to which it has changed my life, the extent at which it has changed me, the extent to which it has been gratifying, well, that extent in itself is so large that it is terrifyingly satisfying.