One of my favorite songs is “Standing Outside the Fire” by Garth Brooks. While the whole song speaks to me and makes me stop and listen, there is one line that resonates with my soul, “Life is not tried it is merely survived, if you’re standing outside the fire.” In the deep recesses of my imagination I am that woman who will try anything and everything once. You have a new challenge? Give it to me, ’cause I’m there. In actual real life I am only about half as daring as I think I am. I have only half the ability to step out of my comfort zone to try new things. Two clear examples come to mind:
- On one hand, it is easy to dismiss new-to-me, hole-in-the-wall restaurants (dives, diners, etc) because of a paranoia of food-born illness. No amount of Zoloft can convince me to eat at places I’m not familiar with. That’s sad.
- On the other hand, in response to a fear of heights, I strapped myself into a harness and went bungee jumping. No joke! I’ve also been zip-lining through the mountains in Guatemala, which I’m pretty sure was higher than my bungee-jumping platform (and I only had to have the guides push me off a landing once). Go me!
For the most part I enjoy trying new things and, as a mom, I want my kiddos to be open to trying new things as well. I think everyone should be open to confronting things that make them uncomfortable so that learning and growing can happen. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is on my own terms: when I want and how I want. I don’t like to be boxed into a corner. My life is not Fear Factor. Low and behold, what do I discover? In parenthood, I often don’t get the choice of when I get to step out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I have those growing moments. Other times I turn into a nervous wreck. A few times it is something that I don’t think I will ever get over. So, I give you three confessions of when parenthood forced me out of my comfort zone.
There are certain sounds that absolutely grate on my ever-living nerves. Sometimes I get the heebie jeebies, other times I want to throat punch someone. It’s just that visceral, involuntary reaction to noise. One of those noises is the snapping of dental floss between teeth. I have to leave the room or make Hubby run the water when he flosses, ’cause gross. There it is. I don’t floss. I know the risk and I know the consequences. It’s my choice, and for my sanity I’ve made it. However, it is my job as a mother to make sure that the kiddos are following the directions of the dentist, which means flossing.
I should probably mention at this point that when the kiddos floss I want to smack the string out of their hands and tell them to stop. I don’t do that though. Instead, I am the cheerleader. Yay! Honey it’s so awesome that you are flossing your teeth tonight! I’m so proud of your technique! Look at what a good job you are doing! I’m glad you are being responsible right now! (Honey!!!!!! Get this kid with floss away from me and stab me in the ears as you walk by, k? Thanx.) I really can’t stand the noise, even for the best possible reasons. Parenthood makes it so I have to pull up those bootstraps and get on with it anyway.
Once I was a passenger in a car a long, long time ago… in a galaxy far, far away. No, wait, just a few states away, but I digress… I was a passenger in a car when a spider the size of a penny comes running across the dash. Driver side to passenger side. I swear on all things holy it was coming right for me. This is probably the part where I tell you I’m terrified of spiders. I know it is irrational, but there it is. Well, fight-or-flight kicked in, and flight won. I attempted to jump out of the car while we were driving down the road! Seriously, this is funny now, but Hubby (then boyfriend) was driving at the time and he was not happy with having to hold me while I’m half hanging out of the car screaming as he was still trying to drive.
Fast forward to 2012. My son is five years old and in love with all things that scream “boy” (i.e. spiders). Well, what happens when mom is out of town for a couple of days? Dad and Robbie catch one of the large orb weaver spiders hanging around our house and put it in a jar. Robbie wants to keep it and show it to me when I get home. (EWWWWWW!!!!!!)
Fine, I agree. It means a lot to him. By the time I’m home he wants to put it in a terrarium and keep it as a pet. (EWWWWWW!!!!!!) Fine, I agree. What do you know, our now pet spider has gone and done what every good orb weaver does when she is not weaving words into her web; we discover she has an egg sac. This was going to be the last straw, but we compromised and just took the sac out. This spider, the bane of my existence and the coolest thing my son has ever kept, went on to lay two more egg sacs. I swear she was doing it to make me crazy. Both times we took the sacs out and put them outside where they belong. The spider died shortly after the third sac, which is par for the course. It was a sad moment for sure, and even I felt a little pain over the loss of our Charlotte, but Robbie watched one of the sacs in a tree and got to see her babies hatch. In the end, the spiders outside get left alone. I can ignore them for the most part. The ones inside get caught and put outside (though, occasionally, based on the size or direction of movement I may be seen running and screaming from the room).
I am a control freak when it comes to driving. I like to drive, long distances included, and being a passenger really means I’m side-seat driving anyway. Hubby’s least favorite exclamation is “Stop sign!” No, he does not habitually run stop signs, nor is he a bad driver, I just slow down and stop sooner than he does. When my foot is itching to be pressing the break, he is thinking about slowing down. So, for the sake of a loving relationship and happy marriage, I drive. This spring and summer I’m going to have the biggest challenge (yes, bigger than the pet spider) of being out of my comfort zone thrown at me via parenthood. Our oldest is getting her driving permit. Say what?! This is a joint parenting effort. I can’t let Hubby do all of the teaching, because that is an unfair burden. I have to do my part. I’m going to have to sit in the passenger seat and refrain from shouting about stop signs, yellow lights, left turns, right turns, going too slow, going too fast, merging the interstate, switching lanes, watching out for that cyclist that is obviously ten miles up the road and nowhere near us. Aside from adjusting to parenthood itself, this is going to be the biggest exercise in stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m either going to come out of this with a new perspective on things and a little personal growth, or I’m going to need a prescription for Xanax. I’ll let you know in a follow up post this fall.
Those are just three confessions out of probably hundreds of moments of not standing outside the fire. Comment below and let us know how parenthood has helped you step out of your comfort zone.