I live with this reality almost every day:
Lu is a climber. She will climb trees, rocks, indoor climbing walls, chain link boundary fences, the top shelf in the linen cupboard, ladders and anything else that offers itself. We are often discussing at just what age she will be allowed on the roof (fourteen and that is final, even if Daddy is up there with her). And Nell, being the younger sister and a big fan of Ucy, climbs too, pulling herself up the same trees, rocks and fences - not as high as Lulu but with just as much skill and determination. They are proud, rightfully so, of their climbing. And so am I.
But I am not a climber. I've never been brave and since my second pregnancy I suffer severe vertigo. The thought of being on a ladder makes me want to topple over backwards. When the girls want to run amok in the library, they pitter patter to the second floor in the gleeful knowledge that I can't follow and will be reduced to standing five steps up from the ground floor, calling at them to Come. Down. Now. (I find this to be not at all effective.) So I stand and watch with a tremor in my heart and oftentimes, my body.
It's not the climbing, it's the falling. And it's not that I won't catch them, it's trying to stand by, not hover with my hands just behind their backs and under their bottoms. It's the letting go.
Talk about a metaphor for motherhood ...