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Fighting My Inner Wimp

Motherhood is not for wimps.

And aging is not for sissies. Or something like that. You know what I mean. We’ve all heard variations of this sentiment many times and I admire the message: defiant, strong, and powerful.

I’m just not sure that I agree.

In fact, I think in my case aging, and maybe even motherhood, has made me more reticent, more cautious, more worried.

Wimpier.

And I don’t like it. Not one little bit. But I’m not exactly sure how to combat this steady loss of nerve, this diminishing of fire that I feel just as keenly as the aches and pains that now accompany the everyday exertions that once invigorated, rather than exhausted me.

I’m been thinking about this since last night when, at a pub night for a group of local bloggers, I struck up a conversation with a blogger I have long admired as funny, edgy and fearless.

She said that she had always been a huge horror movie fan, but right after her daughter was born she sat down to watch one and found it no longer appealing.

“I don’t know if it was because all of a sudden I had this little person that I was supposed to protect,” she said. “But it just didn’t seem as entertaining.”

I hear that. Horror movies lost their appeal for me even before I had Graham. Once I emerged from my teen-aged years and realized that there was enough real-life horror in the world, I no longer sought it out as entertainment.

And it’s not just horror movies that aren’t appealing anymore.

I used to think it would be thrilling to skydive one day. Now? I just don’t want to. Ever. I used to boldly traipse across the city from late night party to late night party. Last night I felt a little (just a tiny bit) nervous coming home on the subway by myself at midnight.

Maybe I worry about nothing. I fly small planes after all, something most people consider a rather gutsy endeavor. But I do worry. Because I know I have changed. I have softened. I have shrunk. I have retreated from that edge where I was once convinced the very best parts of me could be found.

What happened to that bold, confident young woman who itched to kick the world’s ass? Would she still exist if I hadn’t moved out of downtown? Hadn’t stayed for eleven years in the same job. Hadn’t gotten married? Hadn’t had a child?

I guess I’ll never know. Ultimately I do not regret my choices, even if each one has brought me closer to the very model of conformity I once disdained and further from the risk and excitement of my younger days.

I love my house and its large ravine lot. I love my job and the people I work with. I adore my husband and the freedom that his love has given me. My son is my heart.

But every once in a while I mourn the pure power, the fearlessness, that age and time seem to have stolen from me.

And on days like that—days like today—I know that I must, absolutely must, force myself outside my comfort zone more often.

Because life is not for wimps.

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