Listen to the mustn’ts child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. – Shel Silverstein
“Ma’am! Ma’am! We really need to get you back in bed! Please! You will do more harm than good!” An emergency c-section was a mere 30 hours in the rearview when I found myself ducking and weaving down the corridors of the Whitefish hospital, a frantic nurse named Fawn ambling after me in mortified disgust.
About 30 minutes prior to the Fawn-trailing I was sitting in my hospital bed, eyebrow twitching in fear. Finally (after 9 long months), I was acutely aware of the terrifying fact that I was, in fact, a mother. Following that bomb was the realization that I would, with near 97% certainty, be raising this little cherub on my own. Without a job. Or a house. Or family within 1500 miles. If there was such a thing as a parental perfect storm, I was smack dab in the middle of it.
So what did I do? I moved. As I writhed and twisted out of my hospital bed and stumbled down the short hallway to spy my wee lass sleeping soundly in the nursery, the only thing that penciled in my noggin was to keep moving. Keep thinking. And keep moving forward.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once stated so accurately, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” It’s been nearly five years since I took those unsteady steps around the North Valley Hospital (thanks again, Fawn, for letting me walk the crazy out. Sorry to be such a pain in your ass.), and fear is my constant companion. It hides in the shadows of closet doors half closed and in the basement corner behind the furnace. Sometimes it gets a little ballsy and sits in the truck next to me in the morning during the school commute, and stares at me with challenging eyes.
Two comforting constants have persisted during the past five years of bumpy paths whereby the threat to sprain both my elbow and chin are a near certainty. Mountains and movement.
Before I became a mother, I was a mountaineer. There is a drive, a push, an itch that climbers get. The only folks who have understood my unspoken restlessness, the knee-jerk movement of pushing harder/earlier/longer, and the arbitrary decision to suffer for the sake of a beautiful route…are alpinists. It was an itch and drive I could not control, and was constantly seeking solace yet never finding it. The route never topped out. It just kept going and going and going. It nourished my head, heart and soul as much as it depleted it.
And then I became a parent, and I understood that drive exists outside of mountains, too.
At the end of the day, the dishes are rarely done. Half completed home remodel plans lay open waiting for my feedback. Client emails ping and build in my inbox like an orderly game of Jenga. The route never tops out. I never see the end. Yet the mountains, and the movement, continue.
My smile is innate as I pound those last few blocks home, on pavement again after a long urban run on trail. I walk in the door, say goodbye to the nanny, and Elsa, Queen of Arendelle jumps into my arms.