This is a copy of a picture that used to hang behind my grandfather’s bar. It’s my dad. I can remember the first time I saw it. I was twelve years old, and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I had never really given sky diving much thought until then, but I decided immediately to put sky diving on my “Bucket List”. Of course, I didn’t call it my “Bucket List” back then. It was my “List of Things I Want To Do Before I Die”. That has a morbid feel to it, no? Let’s rename it, shall we? How about “Adventure List”.
I spent my teens and early twenties living with the certain knowledge that I would one day jump from an airplane. It was kind of cliche, really. I think sky diving is one of those things that many say they’d love to do, but few ever actually get around to doing.
My husband and I had a whirl wind romance, and before I knew it, I was no longer just Me. Suddenly I was part of an Us. I was a wife and mother, with wifely and motherly responsibilities. I happily set aside my plans of jumping out of a perfectly operational aircraft. I dove in to motherhood with great enthusiasm. Much of my motherhood story is written about here. I like to think of myself as a good mother. I took excellent care of myself during my pregnancies. I breast fed my babies well past the recommended first year. I made their baby food from organic produce. I read to them. I dote on them. I kiss their boo-boos and nurse them through sicknesses. You know, mom stuff.
Yes, I consider myself to be a responsible, loving parent.
So how is it that Sunday morning found me jumping out of a plane?
I know, crazy, right? How dare I do something so dangerous when I have children! I completely understand where every one of you thinking those thoughts are coming from. Up until a few weeks ago I was thinking them too. And then my daughter stubbornly refused to eat her dinner. And my son insisted on wearing pajamas to the park. Both examples of perfectly normal behaviors for kids, so what does that have to do with sky diving? Two words: Free will.
My kids were exercising their free will. Watching two amazing people exercise their free will on a daily basis sparked something in my brain. I am a mother, yes. But I am also a woman. A unique individual. Why was I stuffing real parts of myself away in the name of motherhood? I too have free will.
I decided to do it.
I had done the research. I already knew I was more likely to be killed driving to the airport than I was jumping out of a plane. I chose the most prestigious, acclaimed sky diving school. I was ready.
My husband was horrified. As was my mother, and every other person I told. Except my dad. His words: “Great! Do it! It will be amazing. You could get killed walking to the bus stop tomorrow. Live today.”
So I did it.
And you know what? It was pretty incredible.
Being a mother changes you in ways only other mothers can truly understand. You can no longer watch the evening news without feelings of complete horror and helplessness. You can honestly say you know how it feels to be willing to take a bullet for someone. To die for someone. You want more than anything for your babies to be healthy and happy individuals. You find yourself weighing the different outcomes of explaining certain things to them, wondering how their little brains will shape that information into a vision of the world around them. When you feel like you need a break – to just get away from it all – you spend the majority of that time missing them, and wondering what they’re doing.
Yes, motherhood changes you in certain ways, but it doesn’t take away. It adds.
My old self is still inside. I still want the same things I wanted before becoming a mother. Now I want even more. More people have been added in to my equation of desires and aspirations.
I want my children to live their lives to the fullest. I want to set a good example for them. Yes, eat your broccoli, but don’t be afraid to try the passion fruit. It looks ugly and gooey at first, but you may find you like the taste.
I know reading this probably hasn’t changed anyone’s mind as to the irresponsibility factor involved in jumping out of a plane. And that’s ok by me. Ironically, one of my loudest protesters is a parent that regularly drinks and drives. That kind of puts it all in perspective for me. I will take safety precautions, and act responsibly, but I’m not going to let the fact that I have kids stop me from living my life to the fullest. I’m going to take them along for the ride, and hopefully inspire in them appreciation for the excitement and beauty surrounding us in this great big world of ours.
Thanks for the encouragement, Dad. You were right. It was amazing.