Sunday, August 21, 2011

Life beyond the laundry room

“Wow. This is so much better than killing time during story hour.”

Not that I don’t love story hour, because I do. My kids have practically grown up in our local and frankly outstanding library. But on this particular Monday morning when just last week I would have been balancing books and warding off wars on the computer, I was instead floating toe first down the New River in West Virginia. My hands folded back under my head and my feet splayed out in front of me, the flowing water was my lounge chair for a small stretch of our trip downstream.

Oh a whim and against my mother’s better judgement, I met a lifelong friend who now lives in North Carolina midway between us, for a bit of a white water rafting adventure. Half excited, half nervous I remember making the call to register.

“Oh, this is a fun trip. You’ll definitely get wet!” said the customer service representative.

“I kinda just don’t want to die, and then I’ll be happy,” I said jokingly but with a subtle hint of total and complete honesty.

And in fact I didn’t die. I actually lived.

My day to day world is very small. I go between the laundry room, the kitchen, the grocery store, the library, and the school. Granted, I put on thousands of miles driving back and forth so many times that my neighbor sometimes counts how many times I leave the driveway just for kicks, but still, I cover a very small part of this Earth. It’s a lovely piece of Earth, and very comfortable so much that it almost seems silly to leave that bit of comfort zone.

And my children, whom I love dearly but are around me all the live long day, set the tone for my regular life. I don’t watch movies that are rated anything higher than PG, I make sure even I finish my vegetables, and I move literally and figuratively at their pace.

This comfy world and these small people are warm, fuzzy, and wholesome. They make my life secure enough that I have time to worry about whether or not my daughter is wearing her shirt backwards and how many times they’ve practiced the piano.

But one trip to a bit of adventure, and I started to realize that there is life beyond the laundry room, and it’s really pretty fun. The little things in life literally float away. There are no coupons on the river. No overdue books, no dust bunnies or empty dog bowls. There’s no computer, no television, no phones or homework or dishes. There’s just you, a rubber raft, and the only sound you hear is the rush of water over boulders bigger than your car and the occasional whoop and holler of you having a really good time.

After our trip I purchased the souvenir video that someone recorded of us rafting. Because our trip was geared for teens and above, it was a bit more exciting, but the lady was right, no death involved. My kids couldn’t wait to watch it, and so I put it on when we got home, and among the general rafting and splashing and falling into the boat, they also got to see their mother jump off a twenty-something foot cliff into the river (flailing like I was on fire, but so worth it) and working as a team in our raft so that we could purposely ram the boat into a rock and flip it over, all of us spilling out into the river and left to the mercy of the fantastic current.

It goes without saying that I learned a few things out there that day. I learned to trust strangers, to trust myself, to go with the flow, and that a little adventure was exactly what my soul needed. I also learned that showing a video of yourself being an adventurous mom to your children has two consequences. One, they think I’m the most super cool mom ever, and two, they all want to go next year.

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