10 December 2012

On the rocks

There is no hiding it, life is stressful for me right now. I cannot remember the last time I have felt this kind of pressure. At times I can remain stoic, other times I need to let off some of the steam that's building up inside me. And the person I spend most of my free time with will notice.

That's a bit of a burden for a 7yo. But like with most experiences when you're growing up, there are very important life lessons to be learnt from that. I am after all raising an adult. And if I teach my child anything at all in life, it would be the kind of tenacious resilience that I have tried to adopt since becoming an adult myself. We can rave, rant, whinge, cry and rock back and forth in a corner, but we do not ever, never, ever quit.

In that regard seeing parents under financial, emotional or other stress is healthy for kids as long as they get to witness the resolution. Similar to how experts say that it is healthy for kids to see their parents argue as long as they also see them resolve their conflict.

One analogy I have used with Ella to explain where I'm at is the crossing the rocks in the Royal National Park. This happened back in July when we were there with my sister.

We had walked along the road from the campsite to the village for breakfast and decided to walk back via the beach. Only, about 200 meters along the beach, we came across rocks stretching from the cliff face into the ocean. There was a man fishing on the rocks near the beach, just before the cliffs made a sharp bend so we couldn't see ahead. We started walking/climbing across and I asked him if we could get through there. He said "Yes, but it's a bit dangerous". I assumed he meant "a bit" as in "with a small child" and because Ella is an expert rock climber decided to do it.

It got tricky fairly soon after that. There were waves washing over the rocks at some points. Small waves and without much force, but they went all the way across to the rock face. We pushed on. I was carrying all Ella's stuff and mine (shoes, bags, umbrellas) and sent her across the highest parts closest to the cliff. We had to wait sometimes for the waves to retreat before crossing bits. Ella soon became terrified, close to hysterical at times. She made comments about not wanting to die. By then I decided it would probably be more dangerous to turn back than to continue. So I calmed her as well as I could and encouraged her to keep going.

I must add that I did not think the situation was life threatening. But it certainly didn't feel very safe - very exposed and it just reminded you of stories of people getting washed off rocks even though these waves weren't high enough to do that and it was pretty easy to avoid them - we didn't even get our feet wet at all.

The rocks went on for a few hundred meters and you could never see more than a few meters ahead.

We pushed on. We made it. The adrenaline rush when we felt the sand under our feet was exhilarating. Ella chattered excitedly about it for an hour afterwards and was so very proud of herself for doing that. She still calls it one of her favourite parts of the holiday.

So for now I will keep repeating that to her. "This is where I am at: I'm on those rocks, the bit where the waves rushed in and where you felt like just sitting down and giving up. But I will push on and I will reach the beach." And then we'll have the most awesome, the most relaxing, the most joyful beach party!