Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Thrill of the Ride

Apparently, motherhood has made me into a total wuss.

There was a once a time when I travelled across the ocean to live in a foreign country for two years without knowing a soul; this week I started to sweat when I got lost in a slightly rougher neighborhood than my own five minutes from my house.

There was a time when I would rock climb, hitch hike and walk unfamiliar territory invigorated by the fact that I didn't have a map and wasn't sure where I'd end up. Now heights, strangers and even grocery carts terrify me. I caught Finny with the strap to the grocery cart in his mouth yesterday and broke into a cold sweat; I might as well have just poured him a sippie cup of H1N1.

But last weekend, I overcame a little of my fear and was able to enjoy the thrill I once got from danger. On Saturday, David and I went to Kings Island for P&G dividend days and like little kids we were giddy to ride all the big rides. I noticed quickly though that something that was once so exciting had now become uncomfortably terrifying. I could no longer open my eyes on the big hills and I checked the lap belts repeatedly, convinced that mine was never quite locked. I had a white knuckle grip on every safety harness, certain that at some point during the ride I would be dangling from it. Twelve roller coaster rides later, I found I never needed to rely on my grip to save me. Instead, I relied on my eleven-year-old husband beside me distracting me from my impending death with his high-pitched giggling, ending every ride with, "Should we do it again in the front seat?!" or "Where to next?!"

When it was just me to worry about, the idea of putting myself in potentially dangerous situations was thrilling. Now, although we had a great time and those rides still make my stomach flip, there is an additional element of real terror involved because...what about Finny? He needs us. We need him. Now frivolous risk no longer seems invigorating; it seems selfish and irresponsible.

But there has to be a balance, right? I'm spending a lot of time and money these days on safety gates and soft corners, but I can't become an agorophobe who never leaves the house or a germophobe who stops eating the deli turkey on sample day. So although my hitchhiking days may be over and I've embraced the luxury of maps and antibacterial wipes, once in a while I might need a few corkscrews and a giant drop from a tall tower. Even though motherhood has for the most part made me into a big weenie, thanks to my giggling husband and lap belts, once in a while I can still experience the thrill that comes with a safe dose of danger.

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