My life in photos: the fear edition.

Dear friends,

Interesting weekend, this one that just passed.

As you know, both my kids were gone. Kate to college orientation, Parker to the lake with friends.

Not that I was twitchy or anything, but I checked my Twitter feed a lot — you know, just to catch a glimpse of whaaaaaaasup with the kids.

This popped up Sunday morning on Parker’s feed along with the Tweet: Me and (name of friend) jumped a 55ft cliff today. #freefalling

Yep. That’s my boy. The one falling. From a great height. Into a large body of water.

His bad grammar notwithstanding, if you read this post, you know how I feel about these things.

If you didn’t read that post, I’ll just tell you: I feel IRRATIONALLY FEARFUL of these kinds of shenanigans.

So I did what any good mother would do . . . I sent a Tweet back to my son with the message “If you come home in a sip and puff, you’re on your own, buddy.” (A “sip and puff” is family slang for a breath-activated wheelchair for quadriplegics.)

I reminded myself there were adults present on this trip. Adults. Watching my son falling from a great height into a large body of water. I had to assume the adults were exercising their good judgement.

A couple of hours later, this popped up on Parker’s feed along with the Tweet: Extreme tubing backflip.

Yep. That’s my boy. Flying backwards off a fast-moving object. Into a large body of water.

Good lord . . . this mothering thing isn’t for wimps. After Parker’s daredevil-photo Tweets, I got a “distress text” from Kate. She was feeling a little more homesick than she expected. I sympathized (because no one wants to hear you shouldn’t be homesick), gave her a pep talk, then put my phone away because, you know, there’s only so much long-distance mothering (worrying) a mother can do in one day without having a nervous breakdown.

The good news is (Mr. Mom would say it’s the predictable news) — Parker came home safe and sound, declaring it the best lake trip ever. And Kate survived orientation, noting the student leaders were “super nice” and their freshman survival tips helpful.

Thanks to all of you, dear readers, I’ve got a leg up on this new parenting gig of mine. I have a feeling it’s a lot like jumping off that damn cliff — pretty scary from the top, but exhilarating once you’re in the water.

With gratitude {for two courageous kids who made my weekend nothing if not interesting},

Joan, who wants to give a shout-out to regular reader Deb, without whose sage advice on this post I might have lain awake “carrying the strain” of Kate’s mood



  1. Thanks for writing this – I went through a similar experience as you a few years ago. My daughter went bungee jumping and had photos and video (so I could watch on an endless loop, re-living the horror each time she threw herself off the bridge) to prove it. She also went parachuting on that trip but unfortunately didn’t have enough money to pay for the professional video for that one. Yeah, too bad about that.
    The only solace I could take from this was that she’d obviously survived both events and couldn’t have been in a sip and puff (haha, I’ve never heard that before!) or she wouldn’t have been able to click and send the photos on to me.
    This parenting gig is *not* for the faint-hearted!

  2. It is a new world out there for Moms these days – brave or otherwise I can’t determine.

    I gasped inwardly when I saw Parker’s photos – especially the cliff jumping. Our family business consisted of a pediatric neurosurgery office. We provided surgical care for (too many!) kids over the years who had less benign outcomes from their afternoon at the lake. It ranged from difficult to impossible not to be an alarmist under the circumstances. My kids understood we all had to humor each other when it came to our (widely) varying ideas of what constituted appropriate risk taking. Or what a “fun” time ought to look like (photos optional).

    That said, it was easier to turn a blind eye in my day. I don’t envy you the immediacy and graphic demonstration via tweets (or FB updates) if they are going to so precisely depict in real time what the mice are doing while Momma Cat is elsewhere. Yee-ikes.

    So….maybe CupKate will be thinking about making the trip home for Thanksgiving after all. (Mommy high five!) I am glad she survived orientation, I am glad you survived your first Mood Dump call, and am hereby nominating you all for the Whole Family Lives Happily Ever After award I just made up. Enjoy!

  3. Glad you survived the weekend. I am sooooooo thankful that all the “social communication” was not being used when my son was going to college and right after he graduated. I am sure I’m better off not knowing at the time what he was doing and I am not sure I really want to know what all he’s done during that time in his life. However, after he had been out of college for a couple of years and was working, he had a co-worker (female engineer) who had grown up with a considerable amout of disposal funds from daddy and she took him sky diving. He was kind enough to call me right before he jumped from the plane to tell me what he was doing! Don’t know whether it’s better to know before they do something questionable or after they have already done it and you know they survived and are ok. At that point in their lives, it’s not like you can ground them or take away the car keys. From time-to-time now he still does somethings that I have to question whether he’s sane or not, but he usually just texts me photos after so that I know he’s ok. I know that I have a few gray hairs, but those can be covered up easily. I have also survived the phone calls from the daughter having a meltdown, but have found they just need to vent and they are ok (usually) by the end of the phone call or within a few hours and get another phone call saying how wonderful life is.

  4. I used to tell my mother, when I participated in perfectly safe activities (an ascent attempt on Mt. Fitzroy, for example, that ended in a three-week stint in snow caves surrounded only by very aggressive and jocky young men), that I could always be hit by a truck in front of her house. My father began preparing me for my own adventuring when I was young by asking, “What would you need to know in order to achieve your desired end, and what precautions would you need to take to be able to do this as an old woman?” Great advice, regardless of the perceived dangers involved in the target activity.

    You and Doug have given your wonderful children the same perspective, whether explicitly stated or otherwise. They’re out in the world, venturing boldly, but still belaying off the family anchor. You have every reason to be proud of them, and proud of the efforts you and Doug have made to help them become such wonderful adults-in-making.

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