If you’re not careful, you’ll come to fear everything when you’re a mother.
I was reminded of this most recently during an active shooter training at the university where I work. It was a brilliant idea, really: listen to 90 minutes of gunshots and panic protocol two days before flying across the country with an infant and a toddler.
But the problem with ideas is that they are powerful and nearly impossible to derail. My worries about protecting two children in California only increased as our departure grew near.
Who will try to steal my kids when I am not looking?
Will I survive Bay Area traffic?
And, perhaps most outrageously, will I die in a mass shooting?
Things grew grim. And I’m not going to lie – the leash backpack was pretty tempting.
Somehow, amazingly, I mustered the strength to silence my mentally constructed catastrophes long enough to allow our family to board the plane.
When the world feels full of ugliness, nature is a most excellent prescription. Our destination of choice: Yosemite.
For many weeks, my husband and I dreamed of that moment when we would peer into the great Yosemite Valley with our little ones. The breeze would rustle their hair and steal our cares. Only it was hot, the kids were tired from multiple hours in a car, and all I could think about was the likelihood of a bomb on a bus in Yosemite – that, of course, would contain our family.
What was wrong with me?
After I declined a perfectly safe (and convenient) bus ride, I started to examine my motives. What was causing my stress? And was there truly anything to fear?
When we finally made it to the Yosemite Valley Tunnel View, my eyes reminded me of how small I am – how tiny we all are. Perhaps it was the elevation, but the sight captured my breath.
The mountains of fear that I had been building almost prevented me from living – connecting to the ones I love most. In my imagination, I had chosen to see only what could go wrong.
I can tell you that in that moment, outside of my comfort zone, the Valley was sweeter than any dream.
I am reminded that what we put into our bodies takes hold of our thoughts and drives our actions. Fear can make us careful parents, but it shouldn’t shelter our children from a world that has so much beauty to offer.
My children are still alive, and I have not yet come face-to-face with a villain during our California adventure. Good things lie ahead of us, even when the landscape challenges.
And, just beyond those towering mountains, is the peace of knowing that – in the uncertainty – I showed my children how to climb.