Before I was a mom, I used to be braver. While courageous might be a bit strong of a term (they didn’t call me the“Queen of the Snowplow” for nothing), I still think I was a little less cautious. Motherhood tends to bring out the fear in all of us. Every little spider is suddenly a deadly brown recluse. Children on the monkey bars seemed destined for broken limbs. If you see a smiling stranger on the street, certainly they are up to no good in the neighborhood. Paranoia and motherhood can co-exist too well sometimes.

A few weeks ago, I was reminded of those adventurous days gone by. As we drove by the camp where I was a counselor just over two decades ago, I can still recall those carefree days. Peering through the trees, I remembered fearlessly leading my group down the creek while teaching them how to maneuver a canoe. Although I was not necessarily longing to go back to that season, part of me did wish for that freedom from long ago.

Last Friday, we were asked to join some friends at nearby lake for a time of swimming and fishing. They also happened to have canoes, and my six year old wanted me to take him out on the water. While we would both wear life jackets, let me just say that I am not a great swimmer. Neither is my six year old. Reminiscing seemed much better than creating new experiences because at that moment my bravado was definitely fleeting.

I could imagine the worst. Somehow he would stand up or shake the boat, and we would capsize. Having to tow my child and a heavy canoe to shore did not seem worth the effort. Thankfully my braver side won out. Although sometimes I may be full of doubts, I never want unreasonable concerns to hold me back from enjoyable experiences. Especially when my children are involved. Motherhood should expand my horizons – not limit them.

The look on my six year old’s face as we started gliding across the lake was worth any misgivings. Not surprisingly, he soon gave up on the idea of actually trying to learn to paddle. Riding along with mom doing the work is always more fun. I managed quite well until we made it to the other side of the lake.

Trying to turn around did not go quite so smoothly. In fact, I maneuvered us around in circles a few times on our return back to the starting shore. 

Ignoring my rising panic, I just kept paddling.

Eventually we made it back, and I felt a sense of accomplishment that can sometimes be missing in the daily routines of life. This outing made me a bit more adventurous and to want to step out in courage. I am so glad that on a beautiful sunny summer day I chose to go back at the paddles again. Even with sore arms the next day. 

Gretchen Garrison

Gretchen Garrison is happily married to her best friend, Kyle, and helps him run their family operated blasting and restoration business. She is a homeschooling  mom who spends her time keeping up with their four generally enjoyable children. In addition to her family, she values her faith the most. If she ever gets to relax, a game or book is often involved. Gretchen also enjoys exploring her state with her family and writes about those experiences on my her blog,