Yesterday I went roller skating.
I haven’t been in roller boots since I was a tween/early teen.
We have, some may say stupidly, booked a roller skating party for Lily’s birthday, even though she has never roller skated before. She was insistent about what she wanted to do so we decided it would probably be a good idea to take her to practise before her party, so she knew what to expect.
This sort of activity in the past would have fallen to Chris.
He would have revelled in the challenge, the chance to put skates on. He would have gone fast and span Lily round the rink without a fear or care in the world.
I would have quite happily sat having a coffee, chasing after Sam, spectating and offering words of encouragement from the sidelines with my feet firmly on none wheeled ground.
Now Chris is unable to do these things (at the moment) our roles are reversed, it was up to me to get on the rink.
I had the foresight to know I was not going to be good, I am just not good at this sort of thing, so I roped in some very enthusiastic friends to come with us.
As they whizzed off like they’d not had a 20 odd year gap since the last time they donned a pair of roller boots, I tightly gripped to the side of the rink and slowly, very slowly, made my way round.
I had completely forgotten how to stay balanced. I did more pulling myself round and rolling than what you could actually class as skating.
I could not help my girl learn to skate, I could not guide her in what to do.
I couldn’t do it myself.
It didn’t take long for Lily’s confidence to grow and soon let go of my friends’ hand, going off having a brilliant time. With each loop she got a little faster and smiled a little more.
I couldn’t understand why I was so rubbish, why I was unable to work out what I was supposed to do.
I couldn’t understand why my friends were reintroduced to their youth with ease and I nearly pulled my shoulder out of its socket in a bid to keep myself upright.
It was a throw away comment from my friend that made me realise what was up.
‘I’m not good; I’m just not bothered about falling over’
That was my problem.
I was so worried I would end up in a heap that I was stopping myself letting go and just giving it a try.
Not too many years ago, the thought of falling over wouldn’t have even entered my head and it certainly wouldn’t have held me back. I even would have classed myself as adventurous. It would just have been something that was expected when doing something as daft as roller skating.
That’s what I told Lily, you’ll fall but get up and keep going.
I wonder when that changed, when I became so scared of taking a risk.
When I became so concerned with what people would think if they saw me land on my bum and need a hand up.
Maybe it’s an age thing, or a size thing. Two kids and some years later have made me less agile and a lot more wobbly than I used to be.
I’m not normally easily embarrassed yet here I am, thinking too much about what other people see when they look at me.
Why do I even care?
I don’t want my kids to remember me as the mummy who was too scared, who wouldn’t try, who missed out on possibilities, adventure and fun because the fear was holding me back.
For now I am the parent that needs to step up from the side-lines I’ve been quite happy to occupy, to show them that you should not be afraid to try.
I couldn’t help thinking, what else is this fear holding me, us, back from?
In times when decisions need to be made, how many of us are clinging to the edges scared of falling on our bums.
How many of us are letting go and skating like we are teens again, not letting the fear hold us back and just seeing where it takes us.
What are we missing out on?
Before Chris’ diagnosis I hadn’t realised how much I was holding on to things. I’ve had to learn to let go, to accept help, for the kids to spend more time away from us than I would usually like to help maintain the normality I crave for them. I have eased the need to be in control and life has been more manageable and better for it.
The longer we were at the roller rink the more I started let go a little, still unable to move far from the edge no matter how much my heart told my brain I’d be ok.
I even started to look in the direction I was going rather than down at my feet.
Of course I ended up on my bum and of course I ended up falling to my knees on more than one occasion and I literally looked like a hippo trying to ice skate but I started to care a little less.
Since getting home, and despite aching all over, I’m disappointed I still held myself back.
There was no one telling me I couldn’t do it, in fact quite the opposite.
I want to go back and try again, I’m lucky I’ll have the opportunity to.
Sometimes we hold on for too long and things pass us by.
I want to let go of the sides.
It’s likely I’ll fall on my bum again but if I don’t let go how will I ever know and there’s always the chance I might not.
Even if I do, so what! I can just get up and go again.
And I know my friends will be around to give me a hand back up.
Let go of the sides, learn to skate and don’t be afraid to ….