During a recent trip to a gorgeous lake in the middle of the northern Tennessee mountains, I stood for almost half an hour on top of a 20-foot bridge, tears in my eyes, scared to death to jump off into the 200-foot lake. Everyone else had already done it, including several of my nieces and nephews, the youngest one 5-years-old. Everyone loved every second of it, and many of them had done it multiple times at this point. I can swim. I was wearing a life vest, and I knew it would not hurt. So why was I too afraid to jump? I’m afraid of heights, and I’m just not that brave.
I ended up jumping – twice. I was terrified. But I didn’t do it until my daughter, who turned 7 only a week later, climbed up to the top of the bridge with her uncle and gave me a look that said, “Mommy, you are such a baby,” before jumping off and squealing with delight. And she’s not that brave either. In that moment, I could not let my kids see me afraid to do something that didn’t scare them. I’m their mother. I need to be braver than they to make them feel confident and comfortable in their lives. So I jumped. And that’s just one example of how my kids make me so much braver.
I don’t take anyone else’s crap
There’s something to be said about no longer having the patience to deal with others once you have kids of your own. Whereas I might have, in the past, had an issue saying no to people who wanted me to do things for them, I find that I no longer care if it upsets them. I’ve very little free time as it is, and what little I do have goes to my kids. Forget everyone else.
I care less about offending others
I once cared too much, perhaps, about what other people thought of me. I no longer care. When my daughter told me a teacher at her school scared her when she put her face in the face of another little girl and called her the “B” word and used other inappropriate phrases, I was not worried about offending the teacher and taking my daughter’s concerns to the director of her school. I don’t care if she’s offended, especially after hearing from other parents that their kids had very similar complaints on other occasions. They might have worried about offending this woman, but I did not. And it turns out, I was right.
I gave birth
Kids can make you very brave simply because you realize that you just did something that not everyone can do. I gave birth to four kids. I gave birth to four kids and I was in labor with all four of them less than 12 hours – combined. I mean, in my entire life I’ve been in labor less than 12 hours. I gave birth to two babies at one time, and I am a rock star. And that’s just what all women who bring children into this world are.
I’ve suffered loss
I’m braver and stronger than I ever was before having children because losing two children made me stronger. It made me braver. In between our first and second children, my husband and I suffered two devastating miscarriages that made us change the way we looked at the world. I am braver because I have suffered loss, and now there are fewer things in the world that I truly fear, and so many more things that I truly have taken the time to appreciate. All because of two angel babies we’ve never met.
I’ve suffered fear
I know how to be brave, because I have been through real heartache and suffered real fears. I no longer suffer the silly fears that other people suffer. When we finally became pregnant with our second daughter, we were told the day of our 20 week ultrasound that she had a calcified deposit on her heart and that it was an indicator of Downs Syndrome. It’s called an Echogenic Intracardiac Focus, or an EIF. It occurs in approximately 4% of all pregnancies and it means nothing by itself. However, we were scheduled for a level 2 ultrasound a few weeks after to see if it was something more concerning, such as Downs or if it was just a bit of mineralization. We were given information about termination, it was brought to our attention that we have an older child to think about should we find out that our second daughter suffered from Downs. We were terrified. This is fear unlike any other; and it’s made me much braver.
I have children to protect
There is nothing in life like being brave because you have no other option. Many things in life might scare me, but when it comes to my babies, I’m going to do whatever I have to do to protect them. There is nothing I would not do to keep them safe and sound, and that’s because they simply exist.
My love for them is endless
To the moon and back, to infinity and beyond (thanks for the reference Buzz Lightyear); my love for my kids is endless. And that makes me brave.
I want to set a good example
I want to show my kids that fears are normal and acceptable, and that bravery is something we should be proud of. I like to face my fears and conquer them when possible, and I like to show my kids that this is something that they, too, can do with ease.
My fears have changed
I have so many fears in life, but for the most part they have changed significantly. They are no longer the same fears I once had growing up. They are different. And that’s because I have children. Having them has shown me that there are some things in life more worthy of my fear than others. And that there are some things in life not worth worrying about at all.
My priorities have changed
I no longer find that my priorities are the same as they once were. My priorities are my faith, my husband and my children. It’s not all about me anymore, and that makes me very brave. After all, it takes a brave person to have their heart walking around outside their chest every single day (thanks Pinterest for putting my feelings into words that make so much sense).
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